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Major steps towards realising a bold vision for European Excellence in AI

The Confederation of Laboratories of Artificial Intelligence Research in Europe (CLAIRE), Europe’s grassroots organisation of scientists and experts in Artificial Intelligence, announces the opening of administrative offices across Europe.

Acting fast

In June 2018, Europe’s AI experts have shown strong determination and collective leadership in establishing the Confederation of Laboratories of AI Research in Europe (CLAIRE). Only nine months after its launch as a grassroots initiative, it has become a large, pan-European organisation, comprising over 250 AI research groups and institutes that jointly represent over 7500 AI experts and support staff. CLAIRE pursues a bold and ambitious vision for European excellence in AI that calls for leveraging all areas of AI, mobilising the substantial talent pool across all of Europe, and focusing on AI technology that keeps the human in the centre. In this, CLAIRE’s vision is fully aligned with the European Parliament, the European Council, and the European Commission.

‘CLAIRE is taking another major step by opening administrative offices across Europe, to strengthen its organisation, to engage national governments, and to make sure the voices of Europe’s AI experts get heard,’ says Holger Hoos of the Leiden Institute of Advanced Computer Science (LIACS), who is one of the three initiators of CLAIRE.

Five offices

The announcement of five offices, located in The Hague (the Netherlands), Oslo (Norway), Prague (Czech Republic), Rome (Italy) and Saarbrücken (Germany), was made at CLAIRE’s second European AI strategy symposium, where 100 selected AI experts discussed the next steps to be taken towards realising a bold European vision on AI. Among the topics discussed at the event were concrete next steps to strengthen industry-university collaboration and criteria as well as a process for selecting the site for Europe’s central AI research and innovation hub. The symposium was held in Rome, with the support of the National Resource Council of Italy, the Italian AI Society and the European Space Agency.

Europe in the global competition

Last year, Europe took major steps towards ensuring excellence in artificial intelligence on a global scale. After several European governments had announced national AI strategies, 24 governments signed an agreement of increased investment and collaboration in the field of AI. Europe is currently one of three contenders for global leadership in artificial intelligence. According to a recent study by Elsevier, Europe has an extraordinary pool of talent and institutes, fostering AI research in Europe and beyond; it is also home to the largest share of the top 100 AI research institutions worldwide, and the talent coming out of these centres has increasingly entrepreneurial ambitions.

Who will dominate?

However, the United States and China are investing enormously in research, innovation and development in Artificial Intelligence. In 2017, private investment alone was seven times higher in the U.S. than in Europe, according to the European Commission. China has launched an ambitious plan aimed at achieving dominance in all areas of AI within a few years.

Keeping talent in Europe

This causes major concerns for Europe, as AI is not only expected to have large economic impact, but also to fundamentally change the way we live and work. Without swift and substantial support, Europe’s research institutions, industries and talent pool will face increasing difficulty to compete globally. Currently, much of European AI talent ends up in industry and universities outside of Europe. Reasons for this disturbing trend include not only substantial differences in salaries, but also a dearth of ambitious and exciting AI projects, insufficient research infrastructure, bureaucratic overhead, and lack of critical mass. To stay relevant in the global competition for excellence and impact in AI, Europe urgently needs to change this.

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