Have you ever wondered how we could provide tourists in Amsterdam with the best experience? Now is your chance to develop ideas, business cases and real prototypes of Watson to answer all questions tourists have.

The Watson Innovation course is a collaboration between the Vrije Universiteit, University of Amsterdam and IBM Netherlands. It offers a unique opportunity to learn about IBM Watson, cognitive computing and the meaning of such artificial intelligence systems in a real world and big data context. Students from Computer Science and Economics faculties will join their complementary efforts and creativity in cross-disciplinary teams to explore the business and innovation potential of such technologies.


The Watson Innovation course is primarily for Computer Science and Business related students from the Vrije Universiteit and University of Amsterdam. The course takes place from 31st of October 2016 until 23rd of December 2016, and rewards 6 ECTS. Please apply by registering on VUnet, the course number is X_405129. If you have questions, please contact Benjamin Timmermans via b.timmermans@vu.nl or Oana Inel via oana.inel@vu.nl.


The course runs from 31st of October 2016 until 23rd of December 2016. There will be lectures and practicals at both VU and IBM locations. The detailed planning will be made available through VU blackboard.

Tue 1 Nov9:00 – 10:45Introduction to Cognitive Computing
Fri 4 Nov9:00 – 10:45Inside the original IBM Watson
Tue 8 Nov9:00 – 10:45Challenge Introduction
Fri 11 Nov9:00 – 10:45IBM Watson Ecosystem
Tue 15 Nov9:00 – 10:45IBM Ideation
Fri 18 Nov9:00 – 10:45IBM Watson Ecosystem
Tue 22 Nov9:00 – 10:45IBM Watson Ecosystem
Fri 25 Nov9:00 – 10:45Business Plan Development
Tue 29 Nov9:00 – 10:45Amsterdam Startup Environment
Fri 2 DecTBAGuest Lecture by Ken Barker, IBM Research NY
Tue 6 Dec9:00 – 10:45Project Pitches
Fri 9 Dec9:00 – 10:45IBM Watson and Crowdsourcing
Tue 13 Dec9:00 – 10:45Challenge Project
Fri 16 DecTBAPresentations

Frequently Asked Questions

What reading material is advised for the course?
What is IBM Watson?
Building Watson: An overview of the DeepQA project
CrowdTruth papers

Do I need programming skills for the course?
You will be working in a multidisciplinary team. This means that as a Computer Science student your main focus is the app development, while as a Business student the business plan. Please let us know what your coding skills are so that we can distribute the groups evenly.

Will we work with a real version of IBM Watson?
Yes. You will have a unique opportunity to work with the IBM Watson Engagement Advisor in our private Watson instance. However, all groups in the course work with the same instance, and optimizing the algorithms of Watson is not part of this course. You will also get access to the IBM Watson Developer Cloud, so that you can use other Watson API’s.

How can I contribute as a business student?
In the course you will explore the business and innovation potential of Watson, and develop an idea to a business plan supported with a real app.

Is this a Bachelor or Master course?
It is a Master course (level 400), but outstanding bachelor students in their third year or higher are welcome to join.

Does this course count for my study program?
No, this is an extracurricular course. You can request a course to be part of your study program through your exam committee. This is not possible for bachelor students, as it is officially a masters course.

Is the course in Dutch?
No. All lectures, data, practicals and Watson itself are English.

What is CrowdTruth?
CrowdTruth is an award winning research project of the Vrije Universiteit, IBM Netherlands and IBM New York. The project initiated in 2012 by providing multi-perspective gold standard text annotations for the training and evaluation of various IBM Watson components. The researchers behind CrowdTruth will be teaching most of the lectures.