European artificial intelligence leaders meet at the UPC in Barcelona to promote the use of this technology in the EU

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© European Commission

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Welcome and presentation ceremony of the AI4EU project, the Vèrtex Building of the UPC

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Representatives of the entities that participate in the AI4EU iniciative, during the kick-off of the project

Presentation ceremony of the AI4EU
On January 10, a welcome and presentation ceremony of the AI4EU project has taken place at the Vèrtex Building of the UPC, which has been attended by the Minister of Public Policy and Public Administration of the Generalitat of Catalonia, Jordi Puigneró; Lucilla Sioli, Director of Artificial Intelligence and Digital Industry of the General Directorate of CONNECT of the European Commission; Patrick Gatellier, coordinator of the AI4EU project; the rector of the UPC, Francesc Torres, and the director of BSC, Mateo Valero.

Puigneró has announced, during the presentation, the strategic plan in Artificial Intelligence 'Catalonia.AI'.

This meeting marks the starting point of the AI4EU project, which receives €20 million euros in funding from the European Commission and has 79 partners from 21 countries, among them 60 leading research centres. The objective is to provide users with artificial intelligence resources that favour scientific research and technological innovation. The AI4EU Ethics Observatory will also be created to guarantee a human-centred AI.

Jan 09, 2019

Almost 80 European Union organisations, including 60 leading research centres, gathered at the Auditorium of the Vèrtex Building of the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya · BarcelonaTech (UPC) on 9, 10 and 11 January to kick off the European project Artificial Intelligence for the European Union (AI4EU).

On 10 January a welcome and presentation ceremony of the AI4EU project was held. It was attended by the Minister of Public Policy and Public Administration of the Generalitat of Catalonia, Jordi Puigneró; Lucilla Sioli, Director of Artificial Intelligence and Digital Industry of the Directorate‑General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology  of the European Commission; Patrick Gatellier, coordinator of the AI4EU project; and Francesc Torres, rector of the UPC.

The AI4EU project aims to mobilise European leaders in artificial intelligence (AI) to make resources available to users based on this technology, with the aim of facilitating scientific research and innovation, analysing the need for future research in AI and creating an ethics observatory to foster human-centred AI. AI4UE is part of the Coordinated Plan on Artificial Intelligence that the European Commission presented on December 7 to promote the use of AI in Europe.

The AI4EU project has been awarded €20 million in funding from the EC and is coordinated by the French Thales Group. The meeting in Barcelona was organised by the Barcelona Supercomputing Center and the UPC, which are partners of the project.

The roadmap for the next ten years
The members of the initiative have undertaken to create an AI on-demand platform to provide users with knowledge, algorithms and tools for AI and calculation power. It is also planned to create the AI4EU Ethics Observatory, which will ensure respect for the human ethical and legal values, and the AI4EU Foundation, which should guarantee the long-term sustainability of the project. In addition, the project should serve to define the roadmap for research, development and innovation in the field of artificial intelligence in Europe in the next ten years.

On 25 April 2018 the European Commission launched a Communication on Artificial Intelligence, preparing a path for the development of the AI platform. On 7 December 2018, the Commission presented the Coordinated Plan on Artificial Intelligence to promote the development and use of AI in Europe, prepared together with the EU Member States, Norway and Switzerland, who signed the Declaration of Cooperation on Artificial Intelligence.

Long experience in training and research

UPC has long experience in education and research in AI, especially regarding applications in robotics, image and speech processing, technology applied to people's health, urban mobility and self-driven vehicles. In addition to forming part of the Barcelona Supercomputing Center, equipped with the MareNostrum IV supercomputer, the UPC has two research centres related to AI: the Intelligent Data Science and Artificial Intelligence Research Centre (IDEAI-UPC) and the Institute of Robotics and Industrial Informatics (IRI), a joint research centre with the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC). The IDEAI has more than 50 full-time researchers and 150 doctoral students, and the IRI has 35 full-time researchers and 45 doctoral students. The IRI has a research scholarship awarded by the European Research Council (ERC) and was awarded the María de Maeztu Seal of Scientific Excellence in 2017.

The Barcelona Supercomputing Center, which has more than 500 research staff, applies AI in life science and computer science research and in applications for personalised medicine and innovation in industry and business. The centre also has a specific research group to exploit the enormous calculation capacity of the supercomputers to take full advantage of the technologies based on AI. In June 2018, the MareNostrum CTE-Power 9 cluster was launched, making it the first supercomputer in Europe with Power 9-VoltaGPU plates, the latest technology for combining the power of supercomputing with the expectations offered by AI.

Among the 79 partners of the project are the Artificial Intelligence Research Institute (IIIA-CSIC), the Technical University of Madrid (UPM), Atos Spain, SmartRural companies and the Technology Centre Foundation CARTIFF.