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Europe’s vision on Artificial Intelligence: Key principles & Funding Opportunities

April 16 2020

Strengthened by COVID-19 related challenges, the pace of AI development seems to be accelerating. The global importance of reliable, real-time data and AI analytics for governments and healthcare systems is demonstrated. Big tech firms are keen, and very successful, to show how the use of big data can be of value during pandemics. Doctor-on-demand apps, online patient monitoring, autonomous disinfection and telepresence robots and smart medicine delivery services have gained popularity the past weeks and are expected to continue to do so. In this blog we discuss how the Europe Union approaches the digitial transition.

Whereas AI can bring a tremendous amount of opportunities, it also entails a number of potential risks, such as opaque decision making, gender or other discrimination and may intrude our private lives. As history has shown that impactful events and recessions often led to long-term changes and accelerated trends, we believe the role of AI in society will be bigger in the era following the crisis. This makes the discussion on how to approach the digital transformation more important than ever before. Against a background of global competition, what is the European strategic approach on AI to address opportunities and challenges? What will the Commission do to enable scientific breakthroughs and to have ensure new technologies are at the service of all Europeans? We zoom into Europe’s principles towards AI and summarize the resources it uses to stimulate the digital transition.

Europe’s key principles towards AI

Click for EU main calls on AI

The key principles of the EC and EU were communicated recently in a whitepaper (AI: a European approach to excellence and trust) on the approach for AI and in a recommendations report of their HighLevel Expert Group. The EC has a regulatory and investment-oriented approach, with the twin objective of promoting the uptake of AI and of addressing the risks associated with certain uses of this new technology. In their communications they emphasize to be willing to boost investments in research and innovation, enhance the development of skills. Also, uptake of AI by SME’s and and their future regulatory network are focus points. The key principles are: excellence, sustainability, competitiveness and trust.

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Europe's recommendations for AI

1) Build multi-stake holder alliances - to stimulate uptake, growth, competitiveness and sustainability

Bring all relevant actors– from civil society, industry, the public sector and research and academia – around the table. Create Centres of Excellence in AI, and foster collaboration with other research stakeholders, including small and large companies, the public sector, as well as society at large.

2) Educate and engage – to include and transform

Raise awareness and provide education on AI’s capabilities, challenges and limitations. Teach appropriate skills to deal with this, whilst ensuring an inter- and multidisciplinary perspective. This aids in developing a sufficiently deep and wide skills base and prepares people to a transformation of working environment where AI systems will become ever more prevalent.

3) Stimulate an open and lucrative investment environment – to compete and be trustworthy

Europe aims to build an environment of trust whereby the private sector, jointly with all stakeholders, is motivated to invest in AI solutions and build the future that we want to create. The new Horizon Europe and Digital Europe programmes set firm steps towards enhanced European investment levels in AI.

Europe’s main resources on AI in healthcare

Horizon 2020 and Horizon Europe Programme

The EU has launched several calls in the Horizon 2020 programme to ensure European businesses and academic research institutes are supported in further developing the building blocks of the digital transformation of Artificial Intelligence and Healthcare. The three main pillars of research are: Excellent Science, Industrial Leadership and Societal Challenges. Each of these pillars include their own Work Programmes that include Artificial Intelligence related calls. We have highlighted the AI-related calls that are still open for application below.

Industry Initiatives – Eureka AI Clusters

Initiated by European industry, Eureka Clusters are long-term and strategic initiatives that help develop technologies of key importance for European competitiveness using a “bottom-up” industry-driven approach. The Clusters facilitate industrial development for both large companies and SME’s working with Research and Technology Organisations (RTO’s) and Universities, through collaborative projects creating innovative ecosystems that can deliver high economic and societal impact in multiple sectors of the economy. The Eureka Clusters CELTIC-NEXT, EURIPIDES²-PENTA, EUROGIA, and ITEA3, have perceived a common cross domain interest in developing, adapting and utilising emerging Artificial Intelligence within and across their focus areas.

Wellcome Trust

Wellcome trust is a European politically and financially independent foundation. Wellcome is investing £75 million in a five-year programme on data for science and health.

Innovative Medicines Initiative

IMI is a partnership between the European Union and the European pharmaceutical industry. The IMI aims to improve health by speeding up the development of, and patient access to, innovative medicines, particularly in areas where there is an unmet medical or social need. Several IMI calls address artificial intelligence; the need for reliable, relevant health information; and ways of incorporating patients' views and experiences into healthcare and cancer clinical trials.


Europe’s main calls on AI in healthcare

EUREKA Clusters AI call for projects

Deadline: 15 June 2020 

H2020 - DT-ICT-12-2020: AI for the smart hospital of the future 

Deadline: 17 June 2020

SC1-DTH-04-2020 International cooperation in smart living environments for ageing people

Deadline: 18 June 2020 

SC1-DTH-06-2020 Accelerating the uptake of computer simulations for testing medicines and medical devices  

Deadline: 18 June 2020

SC1-DTH-14-2020 Pre-commercial Procurement for Digital Health and Care Solutions

Deadline: 18 June 2020 

SC1-HCC-08-2020 Scaling up innovation for active and healthy ageing

Deadline: 18 June 2020 

SC1-HCC-09-2020 Supporting deployment of eHealth in low and lower middle income countries in Africa for better health outcomes 

Deadline: 18 June 2020 

H2020- SC1-DTH-13-2020: Implementation research for scaling up and transfer of innovative solutions involving digital tools for people-centred care

2nd stage Deadline: 4 June 2020

H2020-SC1-HCC-10-2020: Towards a Health research and innovation Cloud: Capitalising on data sharing initiatives in health research

2nd stage Deadline: 4 June 2020

H2020 - DTH-14: Pre-commercial Procurement for Digital Health and Care Solutions 

Deadline: 18 June 2020

H2020 - TDS-04: AI for Genomics and Personalised Medicine 

Deadline: 18 June 2020

H2020 - DTH-02: Personalised early risk prediction based on AI and Big Data technologies 

Deadline: 18 June 2020

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