Major Danish venture into artificial intelligence research

A new pioneer centre for artificial intelligence (AI) research that is expected to open in late 2021 could be the largest Danish venture into AI research ever.

The Danish National Research Foundation, the Carlsberg Foundation, the Novo Nordisk Foundation, the Lundbeck Foundation and VILLUM FONDEN are currently conducting contract negotiations with Danish universities about the setting-up of the largest AI research centre in Denmark so far.

And with the support of a potential DKK 352 million and the participation of DTU, Aalborg University, Aarhus University, the IT University and the University of Copenhagen (project manager), there is reason to expect that the new pioneer centre will be the most ambitious investment in artificial intelligence research in Denmark.

The plan is for the centre to secure Denmark a leading position in AI and the focus will be on solving the major challenges facing society in the interface between people, sustainability and technology. This is achieved by attracting the best researchers from around the world and creating international research environments in areas such as machine learning, computer vision and virtual reality—as well as in the ethical aspects of AI and in the design of technologies based on artificial intelligence that can be accepted and understood by the people who are will be using them.

“DTU has focused on making confidence in AI into a special Danish angle, and it has also become a key element of the vision for the new centre,” explains Professor Lars Kai Hansen, DTU Compute, who has been DTU’s representative in the working group that formulated the centre’s research plans.

However, this will not be DTU’s only contribution. DTU’s strong basic research environments in AI and applications in biomedicine and health, climate change and biodiversity monitoring as well as energy and infrastructure will be able to deliver specific solutions to some of the major challenges in international society today.

“At DTU, we attach great importance to AI interacting with the users and the needs and requirements of society, and we’re pleased that the pioneer centre may, for example, contribute to better treatment at our hospitals and entirely new possibilities in the green transition,” explains Lars Kai Hansen.

Possibility of growth engine with international profile

According to the plan, the centre will be headed by the University of Copenhagen and the American AI top researcher, Serge Belongie, who is currently Professor and Associate Dean at Cornell Tech University, USA. Belongie’s international profile and focus on business relations are in line with DTU’s, and the provost at DTU, Rasmus Larsen, therefore also anticipates that a pioneeri centre headed by the right international profile will deliver tangible results:

“It’s very good news that Denmark is likely to have an AI pioneer centre led by an international capability. Basic AI research is being transformed so quickly that such a pioneering centre will be able to contribute to the formation of a number of new businesses and deliver innovation in existing businesses—thereby helping to create growth and prosperity. The access to AI talents is also a major barrier for Danish businesses. Therefore, I am pleased that with the anchoring in five universities we will also be able to strengthen a range of university study programmes.”

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