Beyond the hype – AI made in Europe

Dr Monique Calisti is an expert on AI in Europe

Europe has increased its focus on Artificial Intelligence (AI) this month. The European Commission announced that research funding for AI in Europe will increase to €1.5 billion from now to 2020. The body also released two important strategy documents to drive coordinated efforts on development and deployment of AI in Europe. Moreover, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) for AI collaboration between the Big Data Value Association and the euRobotics association was also signed.

AI made in Europe on its way

This month the European Commission, EC, announced increased research funding for AI to €1.5 billion up to the year 2020. This amount, plus expected contributions from Member States and the private sector, should take the figure close to €20 billion for the period.

“For all its ambition, the EU is still lagging behind other parts of the world when it comes to investing in AI. This is why the European Commission has already agreed to increase EU research funding for AI,” says Roberto Viola, Director General of DG Connect at the EC, on his recent blog “Artificial intelligence, real benefits” in which he specifically stresses that AI must serve the needs of citizens and put humans in the centre.

On the way to an AI made in Europe, this month the EC also released the Coordinated Plan on Artificial Intelligence. This plan was prepared with Member States to foster the development and use of AI in Europe. The plan proposes joint actions for closer and more efficient cooperation between Member States, Norway, Switzerland and the EC. It looks at four crucial areas: increasing investment, making more data available, fostering talent and ensuring trust.

Ethics and AI: have your say

In addition, on 18 December, a first draft of AI Ethics Guidelines produced by the European Commission’s High-Level Expert Group on Artificial Intelligence (AI HLEG) was published. The independent group comprises 52 experts coming from academia, business and civil society. The guidelines set out how developers and users can ensure AI respects fundamental rights, applicable regulation and core principles. At the same time, the guidelines address how the technology can be made technically robust and reliable. This draft document is open for comments until 18 January. Discussions are taking place through the European AI Alliance, the EU’s multi-stakeholder platform on AI, that Martel’s CEO Dr. Monique Calisti is a member of.

AI is here to stay

“Beyond the hype, AI is here to stay and profoundly transform our society” says Dr. Calisti. “The disruptive power of an unprecedented level of automation in many spheres is radically and rapidly changing our society. It is therefore a necessity to coordinate AI research and innovation efforts. We must also properly address ethical challenges associated with the development and deployment of artefacts – whether hardware of software – that will ultimately replace humans in many ways.”

In this respect, as members of the Big data Value Association, BDVA, Martel believes the signature of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the euRobotics association  is a key development. The MoU means closer collaboration to help boost European AI via Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs). Plus it will help ensure European players will have a leading role globally. The MoU was signed at the EC’s DG Connect’s ICT2018 event in Vienna. It will indeed build on existing industrial and research communities, fostering the creation of a European AI partnership.

Looking ahead – AI investments in Digital Europe

Moving forward, the EU’s next funding programme, Digital Europe (2021-2027), has also pledged billions to support AI. If approved, it will mean a continued amount of around €20 billion per year for AI in Europe. The figure comprises EU funding, national funding and private sector investment.

This is important news for Martel and our partners. We are already at work on many Horizon 2020 projects for solutions that develop and deploy AI concepts and technologies. Plus we’re working in combination with other crucial digital transformation enablers such as IoT, Big Data and 5G.


Are you an innovator or researcher at work on AI in Europe who needs funding? Martel has ongoing projects, access to funding opportunities and great contacts in the field of European AI research and development. Drop us a line.