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Open Call for European Network of AI Excellence Centres: Expanding the European AI lighthouse

Open Call for European Network of AI Excellence Centres: Expanding the European AI lighthouse

Deadline: 16-Nov-22

The European Commission (EC) is pleased to announce a call for proposals to ensure European open strategic autonomy in critical technology such as AI, with huge potential socio-economic impact, it is essential to reinforce and build on Europe’s assets in such technologies, including its world-class researcher community, in order to stay at the forefront of technological developments.

Proposals will mobilise the best European teams in AI community to join forces to address major technical as well as sector- or societal-driven challenges: strengthening excellence, networking, multidisciplinarity, academia-industry synergies.

This initiative contributes to the initiative started in H2020 to develop a vibrant European network of excellence centres in AI, and a vibrant AI scientific community, and continued in the first call of Horizon Europe. To complement and extend this initiative the proposals should create a network of excellence for the following topic:

Next Generation AI – covering foundational research and emerging and novel approaches, with a view of improving the technical performances of AI-based systems, such as increased accuracy, robustness, verifiability, dependability, adaptability, versatility, graceful degradation, etc. Research is also expected to address functional and performance guarantees. Aspects to be covered include, but are not limited to: foundational research in artificial intelligence and machine learning including new paradigms, algorithms, architectures and novel optimization and regularization methods, hybrid AI, hybrid machine learning, data/sample –efficiency.
Scientific research and technologies prioritised in the latest SRIDA (Strategic Research, Innovation and Deployment Agenda of the AI, Data and Robotics PPP), and complementing the previously selected Networks of Excellence centres (either in H2020-ICT48, or the first calls for Networks of Excellence Centres in Horizon Europe).
The proposals should:

include mechanisms to spread the latest and most advanced knowledge to all the AI-labs in Europe
develop synergies and cross-fertilization between industry, academia and civil society.
become a common resource and shared facility, as a virtual laboratory offering access to knowledge and expertise and attracting talents
provide broad access to AI excellence in Europe and also play an important role in increasing visibility
provide access to the required resources and infrastructure to support the R&D activities of the action, such as cloud and computing capacity, IoT, robotics equipment, support staff and engineers, where relevant, and the capacity to develop prototypes, pilots, demonstrators, etc.
include a number of major scientific and application challenges which will mobilise the community to join forces in addressing them. Continuous evaluation and demonstration of scientific and technological progress (with qualitative and quantitative KPIs, benchmarking and progress monitoring processes) towards solving the targeted challenges will motivate the entire network and support publications and scientific career developments (providing reference benchmarks to publish comparative results, using the reference data, scenarios, etc.), and also showcase the technology in application contexts, to attract more user industries and foster take up and adoption of the technology.
include mechanisms to share resources, knowledge, tools, modules, software, results, expertise, and make equipment/infrastructure available to scientists to optimise the scientific and technological progress. To that end, proposals should exploit tools such as the AI-on-demand platform[4] and further develop and expand the platform, to support the network and sharing of resource, results, tools among the scientific community, maximising re-use of results, and supporting faster progress. Mechanisms to test results and continuously measure and demonstrate progress should be integrated in the platform, which is also important to support the scientific community, allowing also for comparative analysis. Openness and interoperability of components are encouraged to develop synergies and cross-fertilization between different approaches and solutions (e.g. through modularity of components or open interfaces)
include collaboration mechanisms among the best AI and AI-relevant research teams, but also mechanisms to bring all European AI teams to the highest level of excellence. This is also in view of supporting and encouraging the adoption of AI technologies in all Member States and Associated Countries, with particular emphasis on geographical aspect and elimination of gaps between Member States/Associated Countries, as well as addressing existing gender disparities.
exploit and develop technology enablers, such as methodologies, tools and systems and exploit latest hardware development and data spaces, cloud and HPC resources.
Funding Information
The check will normally be done for the coordinator if the requested grant amount is equal to or greater than EUR 500 000, except for:

public bodies (entities established as a public body under national law, including local, regional or national authorities) or international organisations; and
cases where the individual requested grant amount is not more than EUR 60 000 (lowvalue grant).
Expected Outcomes
Proposals results are expected to contribute to all the following expected outcomes:

Scientific progress in AI, addressing major challenges hampering its deployment, including systems engineering.
Build-up the European AI lighthouse, initiated by earlier Networks of excellence centers.
Unify and reinforce the world-class European AI community.
Eligibility Criteria
To be eligible for funding, applicants must be established in one of the eligible countries, i.e.:

the Member States of the European Union, including their outermost regions;
the Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs) linked to the Member States;
eligible non-EU countries:
countries associated to Horizon Europe
low- and middle-income countries.
For more information, visit https://bit.ly/3QtC9aC

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