The European Laboratory for Learning and Intelligent Systems (ELLIS) today inaugurated 30 research units at a virtual ceremony. Spanning 14 European countries, the ELLIS network includes several world-class institutions (see a full list of units here). The ELLIS units will make a decisive contribution to securing Europe’s sovereignty and leadership in the research field of modern AI.
“Today, we celebrate the momentum that the ELLIS initiative has gained since it was founded just two years ago,” said Bernhard Schölkopf, co-founder of ELLIS and Director of the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Tübingen, Germany, which will also be home to an ELLIS unit. “Since the first 17 units were announced at the end of 2019, we’ve added 13 more to the network. With their combined strengths, the units will contribute to enabling Europe to compete with the world’s AI hotspots, particularly the US and China. Together, the units are creating new opportunities for collaboration with scientists across Europe, and a strong foundation for developing AI that is in line with the values of open European societies.”
“We’re excited to bring our expertise to this table,” said Professor Samuel Kaski, Professor of computer science at Aalto University and Director of the Finnish Center for Artificial Intelligence FCAI and ELLIS Unit Helsinki. “With our focus on research excellence, training promising young researchers, and promoting technology transfer, our goals are aligned with ELLIS and the broader objectives of the European AI policy. FCAI is looking forward to expanding our contribution to driving European AI forward.”
Professor Petri Myllymäki, the Vice director of FCAI and Professor at Helsinki University, sees this as an excellent opportunity to boost basic AI research, which is the basis of all AI-related applications and impact. “Finland is very strong in AI research, and this new status is one indication of that.”
ELLIS is a pan-European effort initiated in 2018. Its central goal is to foster European research excellence in machine learning and related fields by offering scientists outstanding opportunities to carry out their research in Europe, and to train the next generation of young European researchers in this field of strategic importance. It focuses particularly on tackling fundamental research challenges in the field of AI that promote positive economic and societal impacts. At present, research topics within the ELLIS network include fundamental machine learning, computer vision, natural language processing, robotics, human-centric and trustworthy AI, and areas of application such as environmental modeling, autonomous systems design, biology, and health.
The ELLIS units were selected on the basis of scientific excellence by a committee of leading scientists from several different countries. In total, they have committed funding of some 300 million euros for an initial period of five years. Twenty percent of this sum will go toward ELLIS network activities such as student and faculty exchanges and the organization of joint ELLIS research programs and workshops.