Investing in AI for manufacturing

The European Commission welcomes proposals to exploit the potential of AI and boost the digital technologies in the manufacturing sector.

Manufacturing processes and products can benefit from advanced digital technologies and state-of-the-art Artificial Intelligence (AI) solutions. The integration of Artificial Intelligence in the various stages of a production process not only can supply the markets with better and cost effective goods but also can improve the conditions and quality of human labour.

PwC paper identifies the potential value from exploitation of AI as being $15.7 trillion in 2030. This would be through impacts on productivity, personalisation of products, better use of time, and quality improvements. An expected 55% of GDP gains from AI would come from labour productivity improvements. A study by McKinsey gives some examples on how AI can be used in manufacturing such as predictive maintenance, cost reduction, automated testing, improved quality of products and supply chain management. Microsoft produced a report in May 2019 quoting figures that AI will add $3.7 trillion dollars to the manufacturing sector by 2035.

As digital transformation is already affecting the greatest share of European industry, the European Commission aims to support capitalising on its potential to the fullest, including the potential of AI. Two recently launched calls (ICT-38-2020 and DT-ICT-03-2020) specifically address AI in manufacturing through actions of research, innovation and experimentation:

Artificial Intelligence for manufacturing

Seizing AI opportunities is essential for Europe’s mid and long-term competitiveness. The manufacturing sector provides one of the most relevant examples. The challenge is to integrate AI technologies with advanced manufacturing technologies and systems in order to boost their potential in the manufacturing and process industries to improve the quality of products and processes. At the same time, it is important to consider how humans and AI will work together in optimal complementarity.

The EC is now investing in research and innovation actions that will build on the current state-of-the-art to:

  • Integrate AI technologies in the manufacturing domain
  • Develop innovative concepts and tools of AI application in manufacturing
  • Build on the AI4EU platform, where relevant
  • Promote the effective collaboration between humans and AI
  • Ensure the application of Trustworthy AI
  • Demonstrate technologies and solutions in different manufacturing cases

More on the call ICT-38-2020

Innovation for Manufacturing SMEs (I4MS)

The EU supports the widespread uptake of digital technologies in manufacturing business operations. Since 2013, the I4MS initiative has helped SMEs and mid-caps to improve their products, business processes, and business models via digital technologies. Launching the 4th phase of this initiative, Digital Innovation Hubs are called for that strengthen European SMEs and mid-caps by experimenting and testing Artificial Intelligence techniques in manufacturing. Experiments should aggregate and analyse data from multiple sources.

In addition to AI, the call invites for testing and experimentation actions in other areas, such as:

  • Smart modelling, simulation, and optimisation for digital twins
  • Laser based equipment in advanced and additive manufacturing
  • Cognitive autonomous systems and human-robot interaction

The participation of Digital Innovation Hubs in so far underrepresented regions is particularly encouraged.

More on the call DT-ICT-03-2020

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EU artificial intelligence ethics checklist ready for testing as new policy recommendations are published

The European Commission has just launched the pilot phase of the ethics guidelines for trustworthy AI, as the High-Level Expert Group on Artificial Intelligence released its policy recommendations.

Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society, said:

The new recommendations presented by the experts are an essential input for our continuing joint work with EU Member States to ensure the development of a trustworthy AI – the use of ground-breaking technology that respects privacy, provides transparency and prevents discrimination. Shaped in this way, artificial intelligence technologies can become a real competitive advantage for European businesses and society as a whole.

At the first AI Alliance Assembly in Brussels today, the High-Level Expert Group on AI announced two important developments:

1. Piloting phase of the ethics guidelines for trustworthy AI

As of today, organisations can test the assessment list for trustworthy artificial intelligence, developed by a group of 52 independent experts on behalf of the Commission, and see how robust it is in practice. Over 300 organisations have already expressed interest in doing so since the group released its Ethics Guidelines for Trustworthy AI in April this year. An online survey has been created to gather feedback on the assessment list and will be open until 1 December 2019. Best practice examples for assessing the trustworthiness of AI can also be shared through the European AI Alliance.

The expert group will also carry out in-depth interviews with selected representatives from the public and private sectors to better understand the implications of implementing the assessment list in different sectors. Organisations who would like to participate can express interest through the pilot registration form.

Both the interviews and the feedback from the piloting survey will feed into a revised version of the assessment list, to be presented in early 2020, and will impact the next steps to be taken by the new Commission.

2. Policy and investment recommendations for trustworthy AI in Europe

The expert group also today presented to the Commission a list of 33 recommendations that it believe will help AI have major impact on citizens, businesses, administrations and academia. The focus is on ensuring sustainability, growth, competitiveness and inclusion while empowering, benefiting and protecting individuals. The recommendations presented today will help the Commission and Member States to update their joint coordinated plan on AI at the end of the year, which plays a key role in building the future of artificial intelligence in Europe.

The recommendations call on EU and national policymakers to:

  • Empower and protect humans and society: ensure individuals understand the capabilities, limitations and impacts of AI; protect them from any harm; and provide them with the necessary skills to use and benefit from AI.
  • Take up a tailored approach to the AI market: assess the different needs and sensitivities  raised by AI systems used in Business-to-consumers (B2C), Business-to-business (B2B) and Public-to-Citizens (P2C) contexts, and address these accordingly.
  • Secure a Single European Market for Trustworthy AI: remove barriers to procure lawful, ethical and robust AI-enabled goods and services from all over Europe, while enabling a competitive global position through large integrated markets.
  • Enable AI ecosystems through sectoral multi-stakeholder alliances: boost stakeholder cooperation across civil society, industry, the public sector and research and academia, while understanding the different impacts and enablers for different sectors.
  • Foster the European data economy: further advance policy actions in data access, sharing, reusing and interoperability, while ensuring high privacy and data protection, and putting in place the necessary physical infrastructures.
  • Exploit the multi-faceted role of the public sector: ensure the public sector leads by example by delivering human-centric public services, making strategic use of innovation-driven public procurement, and fostering cooperation with stakeholders.
  • Strenghten and unite Europe’s research capabilities: establish and demonstrate intellectual and commercial leadership in AI by bringing together European research capacity in a multidisciplinary manner.
  • Nurture education to the Fourth Power: ensure a wide skills base through primary, secondary and tertiary education, as well as enabling continuous learning and strive towards a work-life-train balance.
  • Adopt a risk-based governance approach to AI and ensure an appropriate regulatory framework: map relevant laws, assess to which extent these are still fit for purpose in an AI-driven world, and adopt new measures where needed to protect individuals from harm, thus contributing to an appropriate governance and regulatory framework for AI.
  • Stimulate an open and lucrative investment environment: enhance investment levels in AI with both public and private support.
  • Embrace a holistic way of working, combining a 10-year vision with a rolling action plan: look at AI’s overall opportunities and challenges for the next 10 years, while continuously monitoring the AI landscape and adapting actions on a rolling basis as needed; join forces with all stakeholders for the concrete implementation of the ethics guidelines and policy recommendations.


The Commission is facilitating and enhancing cooperation on AI across the EU to boost its competitiveness and ensure trust based on EU values. Following its  strategy on AI for Europe, the Commission set up the High-Level Expert Group on AI, which consists of 52 independent experts representing academia, industry and civil society. They published a first draft of the ethics guidelines in December 2018, followed by a stakeholder consultation and meetings with representatives from Member States to gather feedback. This followed the coordinated plan with Member States to foster the development and use of AI in Europe, also presented in December 2018. The final ethics guidelines were presented in April 2019 when the Commission also announced the pilot phase to refine the assessment list that helps organisations implement these guidelines.

Europe is known for high-quality and safe products, and these guidelines are the attempt to transfer this promise to the burgeoning area of AI. Trustworthy AI can become a real competitive advantage for European AI companies.

The EU AI strategy aims at increasing the combined public and private investments to €20 billion annually over the next decade, making more data available, fostering talent and ensuring trust. The EU’s first ever Digital Europe Programme will dedicate €2.5 billion to support the deployment of AI and the building up of additional capacities in this domainacross Europe.

More information


The future of work? Work of the future!

We are used to thinking about artificial intelligence (AI) in the future tense, speculating how technological developments in this area will affect us. But if we spend too much time trying to figure out what to expect in the future, we risk not seeing that AI and robotisation have already started transforming our daily lives.

While historical evidence suggests that previous waves of automation have been overwhelmingly positive for the economy and society, AI is in a different league, with the potential to be much more disruptive. It builds upon other digital technologies but also brings about and amplifies major socioeconomic changes of its own.

What do recent technological developments in AI and robotisation mean for the economy, businesses and jobs? Should we be worried or excited? Which jobs will be destroyed and which new ones created? What should education systems, businesses, governments and social partners do to manage the coming transition successfully?

These are some of the questions considered by Michel Servoz, Senior Adviser on Artificial Intelligence, Robotics and the Future of Labour, in this in-depth study requested by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

Download the study here.


Artificial intelligence: 79 partners from 21 countries to develop an AI-demand-platform with €20 million EU funding

The AI4EU project officially starts this month, with a kick-off meeting among the partners in Barcelona on 10 January. AI4EU brings together 79 top research institutes, SMEs and large enterprises in 21 countries to build a focal point for artificial intelligence (AI) resources, including data repositories, computing power, tools and algorithms. It will offer services and provide support to potential users of the technology, help them test and integrate AI solutions in their processes, products and services.

AI4EU, an open and collaborative platform, will also provide upskilling and reskilling courses. The AI4EU project team will work closely with the Digital Innovation Hubs for robotics and the future network of AI excellence centres to further facilitate access to AI technology.

Commission Vice-President for the Digital Single Market Andrus Ansip and Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society Mariya Gabriel said:

Europe can only reap the full benefits of AI innovations if this technology is easily usable by all. The AI4EU project will help bring AI to small businesses, non-tech companies and public administrations across Europe.

The project, led by the French company Thales, receives a total funding of €20 million over the next 3 years. The platform will be set up in the course of 2019. On 25 April 2018, the Commission presented its strategy on artificial intelligence, announcing the development of the AI-on-demand platform. Overall the Commission is increasing its investment in research and innovation in AI to €1.5 billion for the period 2018-2020 under the Horizon 2020 programme. Total public and private investments in the EU should reach at least €20 billion by the end of 2020. Building on its strategy, the Commission presented in December a coordinated plan to foster cooperation with EU Member States, Norway, and Switzerland in four key areas: increasing investment, making more data available, fostering talent and ensuring trust.

More information

AI4EU project website

AI4EU project launches on 1 January 2019