Commission opens access to EU supercomputers to speed up artificial intelligence development

The Commission and the European High-Performance Computing Joint Undertaking (EuroHPC JU) have committed to open and widen access to the EU’s world-class supercomputing resources for European artificial intelligence (AI) start-ups, SMEs and the broader AI community as part of the EU AI Start-Up Initiative.

To support the further development and scalability of AI models, access to world-class supercomputers that accelerate AI training and testing is crucial, reducing training time from months or years to a matter of weeks.

The statement was made in the context of the fourth AI Alliance Assembly in Madrid and follows an announcement by President von der Leyen in her 2023 State of the Union addressEuropean AI and high-performance computing (HPC) actors will closely cooperate to drive breakthrough innovation and enhance the competitiveness of the European AI industrial ecosystem. This will accelerate the development of AI and position the European Union as a global competitive leader.

Full press release

European Commission High-Performance Computing

The European High-Performance Computing Joint Undertaking

A European Approach to Artificial Intelligence

The European AI Alliance


Fourth European AI Alliance Assembly took place in Madrid

The fourth edition of the European AI Alliance Assembly took place in Madrid on 16 and 17 November.

On 16 and 17 November the 4th European AI Alliance Assembly  took place with the theme of  “Leading Trustworthy AI globally”. The event was organised within the context of the Spanish Presidency of the Council of the EU. Opening remarks were given by Deputy Prime Minister of Spain, Nadia Calviño Santamaría, as well as by Commissioner for Internal Market, Thierry Breton on EU leadership in trustworthy AI (video message).

The European AI Alliance is the EU’s flagship initiative that since 2018 brings together policymakers and stakeholders to contribute to shaping Europe’s artificial intelligence policy. This year’s Assembly of the AI Alliance marks another important milestone in the European AI Strategy, with the AI Act heading towards adoption and the updated Coordinated Plan on AI in its second year of implementation.

The event was an opportunity to exchange about significant legislative developments and inform stakeholders about the next steps regarding the AI Pact.

Participants attended panels dedicated to generative AI, cybersecurity and AI, as well as helping AI innovators get to market. The discussions featured the EU’s upcoming boost on AI uptake by letting startups access its high-performance supercomputers.

Discussions also tackled topics emerging on the international scene such as Council of Europe’s Convention on AI and other bilateral and multilateral cooperation initiatives for trustworthy AI.

The 4th European AI Alliance Assembly   was an open, public event, co-organised by the European Commission and the Spanish Ministry of Economic Affairs and Digital Transformation.


European Digital Innovation Hubs

European Digital Innovation Hubs (EDIHs) are one-stop shops supporting companies and public sector organisations to respond to digital challenges and become more competitive.

EDIHs support companies to improve business/production processes, products, or services using digital technologies by:

  • providing access to technical expertise and testing, as well as the possibility to ‘test before invest’
  • providing innovation services, such as financing advice, training, and skills development that are central to successful digital transformation
  • helping companies tackle environmental issues, in particular the use of digital technologies for sustainability and circularity.

EDIHs combine the benefits of a regional presence with the opportunities available to a pan-European network. This regional presence leaves them well-placed to provide the services local companies need, through the local language and innovation ecosystem. The European coverage of the network facilitates the exchange of best practices across hubs in different countries as well as the provision of specialised services across regions when the required skills are not locally available.

Following the adoption of the Digital Europe Programme work programme (DIGITAL) (.pdf), the first restricted call for EDIHs has been completed with 136 projects chosen and most hubs operational in January 2023.  A second call was launched to supplement the selection of EDIHs and to fill the gaps in the Network which resulted in the selection of a further 15 hubs. These further hubs will likely be operational by mid 2023.  Under this programme, 50% of the funding is provided by DIGITAL, and the other 50% is provided by the Member States, associated countries, their regions and/or private sources. National governments and regional authorities played a central role in the selection process of the EDIHs by identifying suitable candidate EDIHs to respond to the European calls for proposals.

High-quality candidate EDIHs, for which no DIGITAL funding was available, have received a Seal of Excellence. Some of these will be funded by their Member States or region and once they are operational, they can also become part of the network of EDIHs.

The EDIH Network

With the EDIH network the European Commission wants to build a vibrant community of hubs and other stakeholders fostering networking, co-operation, and knowledge transfer activities between EDIH, SME and mid-caps, the public sector and the other relevant stakeholders and initiatives. The Digital Transformation Accelerator (DTA) is supporting the achievement of this goal, through managing the web presence of the network, and hosting appropriate software platform and tools, including the online catalogue of EDIHs.

The EDIH network web portal includes tools to assess the performance of the EDIH network, gauging the impact that EDIHs have on the digital maturity of the organisations they support. To this end, the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission has developed a Digital Maturity Assessment tool which can be used by all EDIHs to measure the progress of Digital Maturity of their customers. The Digital Maturity Assessment tool is available in the section of the web portal reserved for registered EDIHs.

European Digital Innovation Hubs and other initiatives

Many EDIHs include organisations that are part of Enterprise Europe Network (EEN) or European Industrial Clusters (EIC).  EDIHs should develop a strong connection with other networks, including EEN, EIC and Start-up Europe, to provide a seamless service to SMEs within local and regional ecosystems. A guidance document is under development to provide good practices and further detail on this cooperation.


EU invests €220 million to test AI solutions for healthcare, food, industry, and everyday life

On 27 June 2023 the European Commission along with Member States and 128 partners from research, industry, and public organisations launched €220 million worth of investment in four sectoral Testing and Experimentation Facilities (TEFs) for AI, at an event in Copenhagen

The European Commission co-funds the TEFs with €110 million over five years under the Digital Europe Programme.

TEFs are designed to support AI developers to bring trustworthy AI to the market more efficiently, and facilitate its uptake in Europe, as well as to act as a sandbox for AI technologies’ development and deployment. They are open to all technology providers across Europe to test and experiment with AI and robotics among other emerging technologies.

The four TEFs launched include:

  • The TEF which is intended to help develop tech for smart cities and communities, with an initial focus on energy, transport, and connectivity. It will help accelerate the development of trustworthy AI in Europe by giving companies access to test and try out AI-based products in real-world conditions;
  • The TEF-Health which concerns the healthcare sector, from machine learning in medical imaging to complex brain simulations, and robots for intervention and rehabilitation;
  • The AI-Matters TEF, which aims to increase the resilience and flexibility of the European manufacturing sector by deploying the latest developments in AI and robotics and intelligent, autonomous systems for flexible production;
  • The agrifood TEF which deals with the agricultural sector and food production. Examples of use would include testing a robotic tractor, or using artificial intelligence to optimise crop production.

The four testing facilities will be fully open as of January 2024 with some services already, with some services starting already in July 2023.

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