The Finnish Center for Artificial Intelligence has been granted €8,3 million in funding from the flagship programme of the Academy of Finland. Flagship status is only granted to competence clusters of high quality and high societal impact. The 4-year funding term begins in January 2019 with a possible extension of 4 years. The total budget of FCAI is 250 M€ in the next 8 years.
FCAI (Finnish Center for Artificial Intelligence) is a competence center founded by Aalto University, the University of Helsinki and VTT Technical Research center of Finland. FCAI conducts fundamental research on artificial intelligence in cooperation with businesses and public sector organisations, and develops practical AI applications.
“The flagship status is a signal from society that artificial intelligence research is considered important,” says Samuel Kaski, director of FCAI and professor of computer science at Aalto University.
Increasingly efficient research and business partnerships
With the new funding, artificial intelligence expertise scattered around Finland can now be efficiently brought together. According to Kaski, flagship status also makes it possible to assemble scholars from various disciplines to carry out research based on a shared agenda. This way, FCAI is able to make artificial intelligence benefit other fields of science as well as society, not to mention businesses.
“A competence cluster such as the Finnish Center for Artificial Intelligence also helps keep the best minds in the field in Finland, while attracting even more top experts and investment to the country,” says Petri Myllymäki, vice-director of FCAI and professor of artificial intelligence and machine learning at the University of Helsinki.
“We also wish to promote the establishment of new businesses and engender better products, services and practices in various sectors of industry and society, thus facilitating sustainable growth,” says Tua Huomo, executive vice-president of VTT, who is in charge of FCAI’s industry and society network.
Utilising methods of artificial intelligence
FCAI aims to develop artificial intelligence needed in Finland that is understandable and trustworthy, works well in supporting people and utilises available data efficiently. Ethical and societal aspects of AI will also be an important part of the agenda. Research is being conducted in cooperation with experts from various fields, such as medicine.
“Contributions by a great number of people representing a wide range of fields make our research impactful and provide broad-based expertise for the development of artificial intelligence. We also engage businesses and public sector organisations,” Kaski notes.
FCAI is already collaborating with a number of businesses and governmental organisations and has a long list with which it intends to cooperate in the future.
“We also have room for new partners, particularly if there is a shared opportunity for creating significant commercial, social or scientific breakthroughs. Research programmes coordinated collaboratively by several research groups are also possible. In the spring, we will hold events to engender and tighten collaboration with various active parties,” Huomo explains.
The AI race is only just beginning
Public discourse often gives the impression that Europe has already lost its chance to utilise artificial intelligence, with the United States and China reaping the benefits.
“In fact, the game is only just beginning: current methods of artificial intelligence work well in solving certain problems, but there are many more AI application opportunities without currently functional solutions,” Myllymäki states.
According to Myllymäki, Europe’s best prospects lie in the development of understandable and trustworthy artificial intelligence that is able to effectively utilise data.
“Finland and FCAI can lead the way, providing others in Europe with an example of how an increasingly well-functioning and successful society can be brought about by utilising top-level expertise in artificial intelligence,” says Myllymäki.
Petri Myllymäki, vice-director of FCAI and professor of artificial intelligence and machine learning
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Academy of Finland flagship programme
The Academy of Finland grants flagship funding to high-quality and high-impact competence clusters with the aim of strengthening these clusters and further improving their quality and impact. Flagship funding also emphasises the societal impact of research and business collaboration.