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EU Commission’s Proposal: AI Factories for Startups and SMEs

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EU Commission's Proposal: AI Factories for Startups and SMEs

The European Commission has proposed a series of measures to support startups and SMEs in developing trustworthy artificial intelligence (AI) that aligns with European Union (EU) values and rules. These measures include the establishment of an AI factory, an AI Office, and other AI-related initiatives. The aim is to provide European startups with simplified access to dedicated AI supercomputers, which will foster the development of general-purpose AI models and accelerate the adoption of AI technology.

This announcement follows the agreement in December 2023 on the EU AI Act, which is the first global comprehensive law on powerful AI models. The act focuses on models like Microsoft-backed ChatGPT and Google’s Bard and aims to facilitate the development, deployment, and adoption of reliable AI in the EU.

In September 2023, Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, announced a new initiative to make Europe’s supercomputers available to innovative European AI startups for training trustworthy AI models. This initiative was further supported by the launch of the Large AI Grand Challenge in November 2023, which provides financial support and supercomputing access to AI startups.

To assist AI startups and researchers, the Commission plans to establish AI Factories, also known as one-stop shops. These factories will provide support in creating algorithms, testing and validating large-scale AI models, and ensuring access to dedicated AI supercomputers.

The Commission will establish an AI Office within the Commission itself. This office will be responsible for developing and coordinating AI policy at the European level, as well as overseeing the implementation and enforcement of the forthcoming AI Act.

As part of the package of measures, the EU AI Start-Up and Innovation Communication initiative aims to generate an additional investment of approximately €4 billion until 2027. This funding will come from a combination of public and private funds.

The Commission has collaborated with several member states to establish two European Digital Infrastructure Consortiums (EDICs). The first consortium, known as the Alliance for Language Technologies (ALT), addresses the shortage of European language data for training AI and supports the development of large language models, while preserving linguistic diversity. The second consortium, named ‘CitiVERSE’, will leverage advanced AI tools to develop and enhance Local Digital Twins for Smart Communities. This initiative aims to help cities simulate and optimize processes such as traffic management and waste management.

The EU is taking significant steps to support AI startups and SMEs in Europe. Through the proposed AI factory, AI Office, and other initiatives, startups will have easier access to resources such as AI supercomputers and funding opportunities. The establishment of EDICs further ensures that language data and advanced AI tools are available to support the development of AI models and enhance processes in smart communities. These measures aim to foster the development and adoption of trustworthy AI that aligns with EU values and regulations.

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