AI in Europe

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This page provides a partial snapshot of the various resources, organizations, and groups that make up the AI ecosystem in Europe. It focusses mainly on the entities that are the result of the policies of the European Commission and the associated strategies to implement these policies.

The term ecosystem is much over-used but in this case it is justified in that we see the creation of a network of self-sustaining, mutually-supporting, and mutually-dependent bodies, all concerned with the implementation of Europe's strategy for research, development, and innovation (RDI) in human-centric, sustainable, secure, inclusive, and trustworthy AI.

What appears below is effectively a directory of entities and their activities. As such, it is presented hierarchically, in the form of a tree. It is important to realize that this presentation therefore omits the key links between the various entities (with one or two exceptions). These links are essential: without them, there is no system, much less an ecosystem.

In the final section, Interconnections, I try to capture these links by indicating, very briefly, how the various entities work together.

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European Commission Documents

Artificial Intelligence for Europe 2018
Coordinated Plan on Artificial Intelligence 2018
Ethics Guidelines for Trustworthy AI 2019
On Artificial Intelligence - A European approach to excellence and trust 2020 White Paper
A European Strategy for Data 2020
List for Trustworthy Artificial Intelligence for self-assessment 2020
AI Watch - Artificial Intelligence in Public Services 2020
Coordinated Plan on Artificial Intelligence 2021 Review; see pp. 19-20 regarding the networks of AI excellence centres and the AI lighthouse

European Commission Services

The European AI Alliance
AI Watch

Public Private Partnerships (PPP)

European Partnership on Artificial Intelligence, Data and Robotics, in which Adra - AI, Data and Robotics Association, asbl - is the private side of the partnership, involving

SRIDA Strategic Research Innovation and Deployment Agenda

Network of AI Excellence Centres

Overview
ICT-48-2020 Towards a vibrant European network of AI excellence centres

VISION Coordination and Support Action (CSA)

VISION: Value and Impact through Synergy, Interaction & coOperation of Networks of AI Excellence Centres
Building on the success and organisation of CLAIRE and AI4EU"

Networks

AI4Media

AI4Media targets the Media, Society and Democracy</span>

ELISE

ELISE targets data-driven machine learning, in coordination with the ELLIS Society (European Laboratory for Learning and Intelligent Systems)

HumanE-AI-net

HumanE-AI-net: European Network of Human-centered Artificial Intelligence

TAILOR

TAILOR targets trustworthy AI through the integration of learning, optimisation, and reasoning.

The AI Lighthouse

This has yet to be launched. See Interconnections for more on its role.

The European AI-on-Demand Platform

AI4EU

Testing and Experimentation Facilities (TEFs)

Testing and Experimentation Facilities under the Digital Europe Programme.

Digital Innovation Hubs (DIHs)

Yellow Pages of Digital Innovation Hubs, including candidate European Digital Innovation Hubs

European Digital Innovation Hubs (EDIHs)

These have yet to be launched. Candidate EDIHs are listed in the Yellow Pages of Digital Innovation Hubs. See Interconnections for more on their role.

Programmes for Education and Training

EU Code Week for schools
Elements of AI Two courses: Introduction to AI and Building AI
New Master Courses in AI
AIDA - AI Doctoral Academy
...

Interconnections

Recall that the AI ecosystem comprises the following entities.

  • The European Commission
  • Public Private Partnerships (PPP)
  • Network of AI Excellence Centres and an associated Coordination and Support Action (CSA)
  • The AI Lighthouse; yet to be launched
  • The European AI-on-Demand Platform
  • Testing and experimentation facilities (TEFs); yet to be launched
  • Digital Innovation Hubs (DIHs)
  • European Digital Innovation Hubs (EDIHs); yet to be launched
  • Programmes for Education and Training

The European Commission engages in consultative policy development and implements this policy by through a strategic plan, including the funding or co-funding of the various entities identified in the plan.

Together with the European Commission, the PPPs are formed by associations or organizations that represent the strategic interests of industry and research centres & laboratories. One of their main responsibilities is to identify the priority research, development, and innovation (RDI) topics, themes, technologies, and challenges and to capture them in an effective research roadmap or research agenda. This agenda provides input for public and private funding bodies that support RDI. The goal is to have a significant impact on European products and processes though the adoption of AI.

The Networks of AI Excellence Centres aim to increase cooperation among the best research teams in Europe so that they can join forces to tackle the scientific and technological challenges identified by the PPPs, and foster closer cooperation and synergy among research teams and industry. At present, there are four networks, each targeting a different section of the AI community, and each formed by a project that is funded by the European Commission. Support for the cohesion of these networks is provided by VISION, a Coordination and Support Action. The Excellence Centres generate the research results that provide the techniques, tools, and methodologies - collectively referred to as assets - that form the foundation for further development and innovation by industry. These assets are made available through the European AI on Demand Platform, the regional Digital Innovation Hubs, and the European Digital Innovation Hubs, when they are launched. The Network of AI Excellence Centres also creates education and training material.

The AI lighthouse for Europe has yet to be launched. It will expand and deepen the Network of AI Excellence Centres by adding new centres and building an even stronger alliance between them. This alliance will share a common roadmap to support basic and applied research, bring about alignment with national AI efforts, foster innovation and investment, attract and retain AI talent in Europe, and create synergies and economies of scale.

The European AI-on-Demand Platform - known as AI4EU - is a one-stop shop for all matters AI: knowledge, know-how, technology, tools, services and experts. It hosts a catalogue of AI assets that can be used by developers to exploit AI and embed it in process and products. At time of writing, there were 90 assets listed in the catalog. This is one of the forums that the AI Excellence Centres use to make their results available to the community but any organization can request their asset to be listed. Note that AI4EU has a new website https://www.ai4europe.eu/ and the old one at https://www.ai4EU.eu/ is deprecated.

The Testing and experimentation facilities (TEFs) , anticipated in the Coordinated Plan on Artificial Intelligence and yet to be launched, will provide expertise and experience in testing mature technology in a given sector, in real or close-to-real conditions. The aim is to provide developers with an infrastructure for testing AI technology before bringing it to the market. TEFs are planned for four sectors - agri-food, manufacturing, healthcare, and smart cities - and technologies (edge AI). According to the Coordinated Plan on Artificial Intelligence 2021 Review, the edge AI TEF plays a special role in the AI ecosystem by enabling "companies of any size to test and experiment innovative edge AI components based on advanced low-power computing technologies, such as neuromorphic computing" and other "low-powered AI computing hardware".

The Digital Innovation Hubs (DIHs) operate on a similar basis to the European AI-on-Demand Platform, in that they act as a one-stop shop providing technical expertise and resources for experimentation so that companies can "test before they invest". DIHs also provide innovation services, e.g. training and advice on financing training. The link with the European AI-on-Demand Platform by exploiting the assets make available by AI-on-Demand Platform, making them accessible to business on a regional basis, and by sharing their experiences with the AI-on-Demand Platform.

The European Digital Innovation Hubs (EDIHs) represents a yet-to-be-launched second wave of DIHs across Europe with some 200 DIHs planned, at a cost of approx. 1.5 billion euros, co-funded by the European Commission and member states.

The final element of the ecosystem are the education and training programs that are essential to equipping the workforce with the requisite knowledge, know-how, and skills in AI. These programs are created and implemented by several bodies, including the AI Excellence centres, the DIHs and EDIHs, and, of course, any education and training institute in the EU. There are made available through several channels, including AI Excellence centres, DIHs, EDIHs, and the AI-on-Demand Platform.