German-Swedish Exchange on Artificial Intelligence

German-Swedish Exchange on Artificial Intelligence in Stockholm

On the 24 and 25 of June 2019, the Smart Data Forum project of the Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy organized a delegation trip to Stockholm under the theme Scaling AI in Europe – Architectures and Governance of Future AI Platforms. The exchange was embedded in the German-Swedish Partnership for Innovation, which was renewed and supplemented by the topics Artificial Intelligence (AI) and batteries at the Hannover Fair in April 2019. Main purpose of the trip was to find possibilities for cooperation, discuss the development of a data analytics infrastructure as well as to get to know the Swedish AI ecosystem.

Developing a data analytics infrastructure is aligned to the aim of the German AI Strategy as well as the Swedish National Approach on AI, as both highlight the relevance of making high-quality data available and facilitating its use. Such an infrastructure is an essential component for researching and implementing AI solutions as AI is so highly depended on massive amounts of data. Also the European High-Level Expert Group on Artificial Intelligence came to this conclusion by making it one key recommendation of its policy and investment report published in June 2019.

Currently, the worlds dominating AI companies reside in the United States and China (e.g. Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Alibaba, Tencent), which are building their AI solutions and competitive advantages upon sophisticated large-scale data analytics infrastructures.

The German and Swedish experts therefore discussed in a day-long workshop about how to design an infrastructure that allows to keep critical industrial and public data in Europe, to conduct novel research in AI and to reduce long-term dependency. Prof. Dr. Volker Markl from TU Berlin, who is affiliated with the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI) as well as director of the Berlin Big Data Center (BBDC), presented his vision for such a data analysis infrastructure. In the following, there was on the one hand a discussion on the technical outline by researchers from TU Dresden, the second national Big Data competence center next to the BBDC, which is called Competence Center for Scalable Data Services and Solutions (ScaDS), DFKI, the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm (KTH) as well as from the research institute RISE SICS. On the other hand, the funding opportunities and political support were explored from both the German and Swedish side. The outcome of the workshop was an agreement to work on a joint proposal for a data analytics infrastructure and ecosystem and to strengthen the already existing collaboration between the German and Swedish research institutions.

After the workshop, the German Embassy in Stockholm as well as the German-Swedish Chamber of Commerce welcomed all workshop participants as well as external guests at an evening networking reception at which the fruitful exchange between key German and Swedish actors continued.

Whilst on the second day the researchers continued the technical discussion on the data analytics infrastructure, the other part of the delegation went on to discover the Swedish AI ecosystem. At the digital entrepreneurial hotspot Epicenter in the city center of Stockholm, the delegation met key actors from the ministries, startups as well as non-profit programs in the field of AI.

In the realm of supporting the AI ecosystem, the Swedish government has made major public investments in the innovation agency Vinnova as well as RISE SICS. Next to advancing AI research, it is a key priority to advance training and education in AI, which is promoted by the national initiative AI Competence for Sweden. Furthermore, key initiatives are the AI Sustainability Center, the national center for applied AI research and innovation AI Innovation of Sweden as well as the privately funded Wallenberg AI, Autonomous Systems and Software Program.

The last workshop of the delegation trip was at the innovation funding agency Vinnova, which is invested in more than 4000 active projects. More than 205 employees oversee a yearly budget of €310 million to promote innovation and collaboration. Their funding priorities are on smart cities, next generation mobility and transport, circular and bio-based economy, life sciences and connected industry and new materials. There have already been two joint German-Swedish R&D calls for small and medium enterprises on health care and life sciences as well as new materials and industry 4.0. A third call will start in August 2019.

The delegation trip to Stockholm showed that there is a great openness towards collaboration between German and Swedish stakeholders and that with the individual strengths of each country, there is great potential for complementary cooperation. Whilst there are already many joint exchanges and initiatives happening, there is still room for increased collaboration. There was great interest in an exchange of interns, the coordination of materials and curricula for AI training as well as opportunities for cooperation in master’s degree courses. Also the joint proposal for a data analytics infrastructure falls on a fertile ground which hopefully allows for an adequate speedy implementation.

© Smart Data Forum

Workshop on “Scaling AI in Europe” in the German-Swedish Chamber of Commerce.

© Smart Data Forum

Prof. Dr. Markl presents the idea of a European data analytics infrastructure.

© Smart Data Forum

Mr. Deißenberger from the German Embassy Stockholm and Mrs Löwgren Tischer from the German-Swedish Chamber of Commerce greet the guests.

© Smart Data Forum

Tour of Epicenter Stockholm.