20 February 2024
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On January 24, the kick-off of the European network 'AI-Matters' took place in Palaiseau, France, consisting of a consortium of Brainport Industries, TNO and TU Eindhoven on behalf of the BIC location and 22 other knowledge institutions from seven other European countries. The AI-Matters network aims to boost the adoption of AI technology in the European manufacturing industry in order to increase its productivity, innovativeness, resilience and global competitiveness. To this end, the sites will develop interconnected reference test and experimentation facilities where AI-based solutions will be worked on on a large scale and in realistic environments.
The EU is making a total of thirty million euros available from the Digital Europe program, of which almost four million euros is earmarked for the Dutch consortium. The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate supports the initiative and has promised to make the same amount available by way of co-financing, so that the total amount of funding will be around eight million euros.
Minister Micky Adriaansens (Economic Affairs and Climate): "Artificial intelligence (AI) helps the manufacturing industry and creates opportunities to produce more efficiently. But the technology is far from being fully developed. That is why it is good that researchers and entrepreneurs are taking this further together in test environments, such as at Brainport Industries Campus in Eindhoven. There they are working on innovative and safe AI systems for Dutch and European companies."
The AI Matters network will provide testing and experimentation facilities for companies from across Europe starting in 2024 at eight locations in Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and the Czech Republic. Brainport Industries will coordinate the BIC location. Managing Director John Blankendaal emphasizes the importance of artificial intelligence for the manufacturing industry. "AI is playing an increasing role. With the help of a growing amount of available data, technical developments follow each other in quick succession. For example, machine maintenance can be predicted, organizational efficiency can be improved and operational risks and costs can be minimized. Yet it often proves difficult for companies to explore and implement the possibilities of AI in their own businesses," Blankendaal said.
That is why he believes it is important for SMEs in particular to have low-threshold access to facilities where they can experimentally test and evaluate their concrete application scenarios for AI. "Some of the facilities have already been realized as part of the innovation program Factory of the Future at BIC and at the EAISI Institute on TU Eindhoven's campus. In the coming period, these will be further expanded and scaled up."
The funding phase of the AI Matters network lasts until the end of 2027, after which the permanent operation of the facilities must be financed entirely from its own resources.