Progress towards a European AI powerhouse

The EU’s vision is for a uniquely European approach to AI; an approach that “centers on excellence and trust”, delivered through a new generation of AI technologies and applications that are innovative, safe, and aligned with fundamental European rights.  This vision reflects strategic ambitions to increase Europe’s AI capabilities, making Europe a world-leading hub for AI research and innovation, and to embed the rights and values enshrined in European law into AI development. Implementing it requires action to ensure that Europe is a leader in AI research, that AI advances translate from the lab to the market, and that the resulting AI technologies and applications work for people and society, now more than ever before.

ELISE has been at the forefront of efforts to create an ecosystem for AI that is ‘made in Europe’. Its 2021 Strategic Research Agenda set a roadmap for delivering a new wave of progress in AI. Complementing this ambitious research agenda, its research, translation, and education initiatives have: generated new research insights and applications, created a world-leading infrastructure for advanced education, supported innovation and entrepreneurship, increased connectivity across the European research community, and catalysed new funding and collaborations.

ELISE has already delivered tangible benefits for Europe’s AI ecosystem. Its activities have built a European research community in AI, the development of which has become increasingly significant in the context of a growing need for European technological sovereignty.

Generated new research insights and applications

ELISE’s 14 research programmes are advancing research across diverse technical and application domains, including healthcare, climate science, quantum machine learning, machine learning for robotics, human-centric AI, robustness, security, and more.

Some of the research highlights from this work are introduced across this website.

Connecting the research agenda to recent progress in generative AI

Created a world-leading infrastructure for advanced education

Demand for top AI talent continues to grow, and it is of vital importance that Europe can attract, train, and retain such talent. Convened with the ELLIS network, the ELISE/ELLIS PhD programme is an internationally recognised initiative that attracts global talent to study and research in Europe. Since 2020, the programme has attracted over 3000 applications from over 80 countries, with over 150 student placements engaging over 100 research institutions and businesses. Alongside these student placements, mobility funds have enabled 245 student exchanges, building links between labs across Europe. By training the next generation of AI researchers in Europe, and providing an entry route to careers in European AI research, this programme lays the foundations for Europe’s future AI ecosystem.

Supported innovation and entrepreneurship to take AI from research to practice

ELISE promotes collaboration between industry and research institutes across Europe through its research programmes and use cases and targeted SME engagement programmes. Launched in 2020, the ELISE SME support scheme offers financial and mentoring support to small businesses that want to implement novel machine learning solutions. This scheme has generated a high volume of interest. Its two open calls have attracted over 800 applications, from over 40 countries. Its first call funded 16 companies to develop new AI tools for varied applications, from civil engineering to machine translation to medical diagnostics. The results of the second call will be announced in Summer 2023, and will double the size of this cohort, with another 16 companies. Alongside these projects, collaborations with 30 incubators across ELISE partner organisations have also engaged businesses with support in deploying AI in their organisations.

Increased connectivity to build a European AI community

In addition to the 38 world-leading researchers driving ELISE’s 14 research programmes, ELISE research programmes connect to over 260 ELLIS fellows working in 23 centres across 10 countries, and a wider network that spans 39 ELLIS Units across Europe. This network of leading machine learning researchers has established a European machine learning community that is driving the development and use of AI. Despite travel challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic, ELISE mobility funds have been instrumental in helping to build this community, facilitating research exchanges and placements across this network.

Catalysed new funding and initiatives to grow the European AI ecosystem

The success of these programmes has helped attract investment in European AI and sparked new collaborations. The newly established ELSA network will drive foundational research in safe and secure machine learning-based AI, building on relationships initiated via the ELLIS network. High-profile examples of the additional funding attracted by these activities include a 100M Euro donation to expand the work of ELLIS.

These foundations provide an opportunity to drive a wave of AI from Europe that aligns technological innovation with human values, that delivers economic and social benefits across Europe, and that enhances EU sovereignty.

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AI for European Grand Challenges