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EU AI Innovation Package

The European Commission launched an AI Innovation Package on January 24, 2024, to support AI startups and SMEs in the EU. This package follows the EU AI Act agreement from December 2023. Key features of the AI Innovation Package include:

  1. Establishing AI Factories for dedicated AI supercomputing.
  2. Providing European AI startups access to supercomputers for training AI models.
  3. Creating an AI Office within the Commission for AI policy coordination and AI Act enforcement.
  4. Financial support and initiatives for AI innovation and talent development.
  5. Launching initiatives like GenAI4EU and European Digital Infrastructure Consortiums for language technologies and smart community development.

This package aims to foster trustworthy AI development in line with the EU values and regulations.

AI factories and supercomputing access

A critical component of this package is the amendment of the EuroHPC Regulation. This amendment paves the way for the establishment of AI factories, a new cornerstone in the activities of the EU's supercomputers Joint Undertaking. The highlights of this initiative include:

  • Procurement and operation of AI-specific supercomputers to facilitate advanced machine learning and the training of large General Purpose AI models.
  • Streamlining access to these supercomputers, broadening AI's reach across numerous public and private entities, including startups and SMEs.
  • Creation of a one-stop shop for startups and innovators, offering comprehensive support ranging from algorithmic development to large-scale AI model validation, along with supercomputer-compatible programming facilities and other AI-centric services.
  • Fostering the development of diverse emerging AI applications, underpinned by General Purpose AI models.

What does this mean for my business?

For businesses, particularly startups and SMEs, this means that they will have easier access to powerful AI-specific supercomputers for advanced machine learning and AI model training. They will have a one-stop shop providing comprehensive support in AI development, from algorithm creation to model validation. Also, they will have opportunities to develop and apply diverse AI applications using General Purpose AI models.

It thus offers businesses enhanced resources and support for AI innovation and development.

The AI Office and EU AI Start-Up and Innovation Communication

Another element is the decision to establish an AI Office within the Commission. This office will play a crucial role in developing and coordinating AI policy at the European level and overseeing the AI Act's implementation and enforcement.

The EU AI Start-Up and Innovation Communication outlines additional key activities:

  • Financial backing from the Commission through programs like Horizon Europe and Digital Europe, focusing on generative AI, with an anticipated combined public and private investment of approximately €4 billion by 2027.
  • Initiatives to strengthen the EU's generative AI talent pool through education and training.
  • Encouraging public and private investments in AI start-ups and scale-ups.
  • Accelerating the development and deployment of Common European Data Spaces to provide the AI community with crucial data resources.

What does this mean for my business?

For businesses, the establishment of an AI Office and the EU AI Start-Up and Innovation Communication means there will be clearer AI regulations and policies with coordinated enforcement. There will also be increased financial support for AI projects through EU programs and more AI-focused education and training, enhancing the talent pool. It also boosts investment opportunities for AI startups and scale-ups and brings greater access to data resources through Common European Data Spaces. Overall, these steps will provide more resources, clearer guidance, and stronger support for businesses in the AI sector.

The GenAI4EU initiative and European Digital Infrastructure Consortiums (EDICs)

The GenAI4EU initiative aims to support novel use cases in Europe's 14 industrial ecosystems and the public sector. Meanwhile, the establishment of two European Digital Infrastructure Consortiums (EDICs) - the Alliance for Language Technologies (ALT-EDIC) and CitiVERSE - will focus on language technologies and Local Digital Twins for smart communities.

What does this mean for my business?

For businesses, the GenAI4EU initiative and the establishment of two EDICs means that there will be new opportunities, business opportunities and technological advancements in these areas.

AI@EC communication and next steps

The Commission also adopted a strategic Communication on its internal use of AI, preparing for the EU AI Act's implementation. This includes building capacity for the development and use of trustworthy, ethical AI within the Commission and supporting EU public administrations in AI adoption.

The next steps involve the European Parliament and the Council considering the proposed amendments and the establishment of the AI Office and EDICs.

Background and outlook

Since the Commission's White Paper on AI in 2020, the EU has been steering towards an ecosystem of excellence and trust in AI. With the provisional agreement on the EU AI Act and the coordinated plan with Member States, the EU is strengthening its position as a leader in AI innovation and governance, prioritising safety, fundamental rights, and boosting investment and innovation across the EU.

In essence, this EU AI innovation package is more than just a set of policies and initiatives; it's a step towards a future where AI is not only advanced and efficient but also trustworthy and aligned with the core values of the EU. The implications of this package will likely resonate far beyond the borders of Europe, setting a global standard for the ethical development and use of AI.