About aiForward


aiForward aims to bring AI to the labs of medical researchers and pathologists, enabling them to see how AI can transform their work and allow them to collaborate with other researchers.

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aiForward offers its participants free of charge:

  • access to the top AI platform
  • support from a dedicated team of AI experts
  • development of purpose-built algorithms
  • networking within the aiForward community

The Process.

1. Application

Applications can be submitted here at any time. They are reviewed and accepted in cycles.

2. Selection

Applications will be reviewed by an independent Advisory Team. Qualified projects will be selected and invited to join the program. The current cycle of applicants will receive a response beginning of May.

3. AI Implementation

Selected projects will be assigned a dedicated program manager and support from a team of AI experts for the one year duration of the aiForward program.

Who can apply?

aiForward is for medical research teams and pathologists with non-commercial research projects that involve microscopic analysis of pathological images, and focus on:

  • cancer
  • neurology
  • infectious diseases
  • lifestyle diseases


How can I join?

You can apply here at any time. Applications will be reviewed by an independent advisory team composed of researchers and medical and AI experts. Qualified projects will be selected and invited to join the program.

What are the selection criteria?

aiForward welcomes projects of many kinds, and every application will be reviewed individually. The holistic evaluation process considers the feasibility of AI in the project and its potential scientific impact. Those projects with a timeline utilizing artificial intelligence in the near future are given priority.

A good fit within the given categories (cancer, neurology, infectious diseases, and lifestyle diseases) is also considered a plus. However, exceptional projects beyond these categories may also be accepted.

How will I know if my project gets selected?

Every applicant will be contacted via email or phone at the time of application review.

When will the selection be done?

Applications are reviewed and accepted in cycles. The next cycle will then be announced soon.

How soon can I start the project after my application has been accepted? How long does the program last?

The schedule will be planned individually for each project based on the project’s current status. Image analysis should be conducted within one year after the project gets admitted to aiForward.

What is the Advisory Team?

The Advisory Team consists of independent experts in AI, pathology, and the primary focus areas (cancer, neurology, infectious diseases, and lifestyle diseases). Each quarter the Advisory Team will perform reviews and select projects based on applications. During the program, the Advisory Team will advise participants regarding selected questions in their areas of expertise. The Advisory team will also select the top projects to be awarded annually.

How much of the participants’ time is needed during the program?

The time required for AI-implementation depends on the project, samples, and complexity of the image analysis task. Annotating the features of interest in the sample images requires some effort and hands-on work from the participant. The time needed will be estimated together with the participants at the onset of the program.

Which image file formats can be used in the analysis?

aiForward participants get free access to the Aiforia® Create tool, which is compatible with the following 2D scanner file formats:

  • Hamamatsu: .ndpi, .vms
  • Leica-Aperio: .scn, .svs
  • PerkinElmer: .qptiff
  • Philips: .tif
  • 3DHistech: .mrxs

The following image file formats are also compatible with Aiforia Create:

  • JPEG2000: .jp2, .jpf, .jpx, .ecw
  • TIFF: .tiff, .tif
  • Other: .bmp, .jpeg, .jpg, .jpe, .png

What if I don’t have compatible image files or access to a slide scanner?

You can indicate this in your application. If your project gets selected, aiForward will help you with the scanning.

Do I retain the ownership of my sample slides and images?

All intellectual property rights to the glass slides and sample images scanned by an aiForward participant will remain the exclusive property of the participant. Aiforia is entitled to use the slide images only within the scope of the selected project.

How long can participants continue using for free the algorithm created during the aiForward program?

The aiForward program lasts for 1 year giving you and your team the access to various Aiforia features for your research work for this allotted time frame.

What participant information will be publicly disclosed?

aiForward and Aiforia can disclose participants’ name, organization, research area, and application of AI in selected research projects, as illustrated in the fictional example below.

Raj Patel, M.D. Pathology

 Dr. Raj Patel studies HER2+ positive breast cancer at the St. Elsewhere hospital. His research group applies AI to improve the accuracy and efficiency of whole slide image analysis. With a dataset of around 100 research samples, Dr. Patel is aiming to train deep learning AI algorithms to recognize the characteristic staining patterns in membrane regions.

“An algorithm that provides consistent analysis with less hands-on work would be a powerful grading and classification tool for breast cancer research,” says Dr. Patel.

For selected participants to the aiForward program aiForward does not disclose research plans, results or discoveries without permission. Aiforia holds the right to publish images, including ones with analysis results visible, for marketing purposes. The participant will be informed of this.

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aiForward is created by Aiforia, the developer of the state-of-the-art Aiforia platform and Aiforia® Create tool. Aiforia is a University of Helsinki spin-off founded in 2013.