The Czech Republic and Czech Institute of Informatics, Robotics, and Cybernetics CTU to Play Major Role in Europe's AI Research

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AI research in the Czech Republic has been today acknowledged as a major and strong player on the European Map of Artificial Intelligence (AI). The Czech Institute of Informatics, Robotics, and Cybernetics, which is a part of the Czech Technical University in Prague (CIIRC CTU), will be involved in three out of five successful projects whose support was announced at the end of last week by the European Commission. Four of the winning projects will form large European networks of specialized excellence centres. The fifth one – with a very significant role of CIIRC CTU – will coordinate these networks and shape the European AI ecosystem. The competition involved practically the whole European AI community.

The aim of the European Commission (EC) is to build EU autonomy in key technologies, notably through strengthening AI research in Europe. The „AI made in Europe“ is becoming a trademark for ethical and trustworthy artificial intelligence. For this purpose, 50 million Euros have been allocated within Horizon2020 (ICT48-2020 Call), preparing the ground for much larger investments in the near future.  The goal is to expand the existing research capacities and to reduce the fragmentation of the scientific community through the creation of tighter networks of existing AI centres. The successful networks consist of the best AI researchers in Europe.

CIIRC CTU will be involved in projects covering a wide range of areas and activities. The ELISE Project (European Learning and Intelligent Systems Excellence) aims to activate the best European researchers in machine learning-driven fields. The TAILOR Project (Foundations of Trustworthy AI – Integrating Reasoning, Learning and Optimization) will develop an ambitious research and innovation roadmap for trustworthy AI and address grand challenges in health, mobility and resource management. The VISION Project (Value and Impact through Synergy, Interaction and coOperation of Networks of AI Excellence Centres) will coordinate activities between the four new networks of centres of excellence in AI as well as with the European Commission.

“Through our institute, CTU has become one of the most successful institutions in this call. Of course, it is a team success both on our side and on the side of our partners”, said prof. Vladimír Mařík, Scientific Director of CIIRC CTU. “Our strengths are top researchers and holders of ERC grants in AI such as Dr. Josef Urban, an expert on artificial intelligence and reasoning, and Dr. Josef Šivic, specializing in computer vision and machine learning research. Last but not least, we also have an excellent project management team, well-connected with major research centres in Europe”, added Professor Mařík.

The involvement of CIIRC CTU in the three projects is a major success for CTU and the Czech Republic.  The VISION Project in particular stands out to coordinate AI across Europe. The project – led by Prof. Holger Hoos from Leiden University (The Netherlands) who chairs the executive board of CLAIRE – is based on the vision, goals and the strong community of AI researchers organized within CLAIRE (Confederation of Laboratories for Artificial Intelligence Research in Europe, www.claire-ai.org), the world’s largest network of AI research groups and institutions.

CLAIRE’s Press release about its involvement in ICT-48 is available at :
https://claire-ai.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/CLAIRE-Press-Release-12-2.pdf

Through the VISION Project, one of the key roles of CIIRC CTU will be to help coordinate and create synergies among the AI projects that have been selected in the call. “We are excited to be part of the effort that will activate and develop the EU AI community at large”, says CIIRC’s Dr. Vít Dočkal – a CLAIRE officer and the designated Director of Dissemination of VISION. All the successful projects have ambitious plans. The common denominator is to increase the EU’s competitiveness in the field of artificial intelligence, attractiveness for young talent and to foster research collaboration between academia and industry.

 

The three projects represent altogether a subsidy of almost EUR 26 million, i.e., approximately CZK 676 million, of which the CIIRC CTU will receive nearly EUR 1.5 million, i.e., CZK 39.9 million. The key asset is however the size of the community that is directly or indirectly involved in the projects. In total, the projects comprise almost 80 direct partners but will affect up to several hundred other entities, from research institutions, companies to other networks and associations such as CLAIRE and ELLIS (European Laboratory for Learning and Intelligent Systems). This gives CTU and the Czech Republic a great chance to be at the forefront of European AI research in the future and to significantly influence and direct this research.

 

Finally, the Czech Republic is represented also in the HumanE-AI-Net, another of the four supported networks of centres of excellence. In this project, the teams from the Faculty of Mathematics and Physics of Charles University, Prague, and from the Faculty of Information Technology of Brno University of Technology will lead research on Language Technologies.