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The knowledge institutions of Amsterdam have joined forces and are investing 1 billion euros in the development of responsible AI technologies over the next ten years, by setting up research programmes, attracting top scientists and educating students with state-of-the-art knowledge of AI. Collaborations with top institutes around the world, public partners and the business community will be greatly expanded. The European Laboratory for Learning and Intelligent Systems (ELLIS) announced this week that the UvA has been selected as an ELLIS Unit to help keep in Europe talent in machine learning and related AI research fields for Europe.

Under the banner ‘AI technology for people’, leading knowledge institutions in Amsterdam have committed themselves to investing 1 billion euros over the next ten years, to employing at least 800 researchers, to training 5,000 bachelor’s, master’s and PhD students, to having 10,000 students follow an AI-minor and to developing (or assisting in the development) of 100 spin-offs and 100 startups.

AI technology for people

Amsterdam has the largest science and innovation ecosystem in the Netherlands and already has at least three decades of experience in research, education and innovation in the field of AI. ‘We have broad expertise here - technological knowledge and knowledge about the legal, social and ethical aspects of AI. Yet we, too, are beginning to feel the shortage of AI talent,' says Geert ten Dam, president of the University of Amsterdam. ‘Extra investments are desperately needed,' adds Mirjam van Praag, president of the Free University Amsterdam (VU). 'In this highly competitive world, we need to focus on attracting, developing and retaining talent in order to ensure that we keep the development of advanced technology under control while at the same time preserving our national and European values.'

The Amsterdam knowledge institutions are focusing on related technological areas: machine learning, hybrid intelligence and explainable AI. At the core of the plan is the need to develop better systems that focus on humans and provide guarantees for responsible application: AI technology for people. Anita Nijboer, board member of the VNO-NCW Metropool Amsterdam, will be the ambassador for the Amsterdam coalition. Central to the coalition's approach will be three main themes, all with a major impact on both people's daily lives and socio-economic development in the region: AI for Health, AI for Business Innovation and AI for Citizens.

International cooperation

The coalition has joined leading international initiatives such as ELLIS (European Laboratory for Learning and Intelligent Systems) and CLAIRE (Confederation of Laboratories for Artificial Intelligence Research in Europe). On Tuesday, 10 December, ELLIS announced that the UvA had been selected as a centre of excellence because of its proven scientific quality. The ELLIS network, consisting of European cities with outstanding institutes in the field of AI, will facilitate the exchange of researchers and students. As part of this initiative, the excellence Unit, located at the Amsterdam Science Park, will be able to appoint new researchers and new PhD students.

Cooperation in Amsterdam

The Amsterdam area combines technical infrastructure (SURFsara, Amsterdam data Exchange), institutional infrastructure (CWI, eSciencecenter, UvA, VU en HvA) and data science networks (AmsterdamDataScience,  Amsterdam Medical Data Science). The municipality of Amsterdam, the Amsterdam Economic Board, and the Province of Noord-Holland invest in development by creating an attractive climate for business, by means of tailor-made support programmes for talent, and by bringing together parties to stimulate co-creation.

The knowledge institutes already work closely with a growing number of companies in public-private research labs housed in ICAI (the national Innovation Centre for AI at the Amsterdam Science Park). In November, the Atlas Lab was launched with TomTom, and previous launches include: the AIRlab Amsterdam (a joint industrial lab with Ahold Delhaize), the Nationaal Politielab (a joint venture between UvA, Utrecht University and the National Police), Elsevier AI Lab (a joint venture between UvA, the VU and Elsevier), AIM Lab (a joint venture between UvA and Inception Institute of Artificial Intelligence Ltd.), Delta Lab (a collaboration between UvA and Bosch) and QUVA Lab (a collaboration between UvA and Qualcomm). Also this year, the Gravitation grant-funded programme Hybrid Intelligence (a collaboration between, among others, UvA and the VU) was launched. On 1 January 2020, the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences will open their Expertise Centre for Applied AI.

Partners in AI technology for people

Antoni van Leeuwenhoek (of which the Netherlands Cancer Institute is part), Amsterdam Economic Board, Amsterdam UMC, Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica, Municipality of Amsterdam, Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences, Sanquin, University of Amsterdam, Free University Amsterdam.