Europe’s Largest Applications Research Organisation Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft Joins International Association to Advance AI

2 years ago by Kelcie Moseley

The Cyber Valley research consortium has a new member with the addition of Europe’s largest application-oriented research organisation, Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. The consortium, which includes the Universities of Tübingen and Stuttgart, is an international partnership for applied research on AI and is further strengthened by the addition of Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft.

Cyber Valley, established in 2016, partners with organisations in the fields of politics, science, business and society to strengthen research and education in the areas of machine learning, computer vision and robotics. These partnerships are meant to promote the exchange between science and industry and enhance technology transfer and start-ups so that basic research findings can be quickly implemented.

“Artificial intelligence is a key driver of innovation and economic growth and holds enormous economic potential for our small and medium-sized enterprises,” said Baden-Württemberg's Minister of Economic Affairs, Labour and Housing, Dr. Nicole Hoffmeister-Kraut.

“We need more ‘AI made in Baden-Württemberg’, and we need to bring the results of our cutting-edge research even better and faster [sic] into the practical application of our companies. To this end, we must make massive progress in the research, development and commercialisation of artificially intelligent systems.”


Members of the Cyber Valley consortium.

Cyber Valley consortium members. From left to right: Silke Walter, press spokesperson Ministry of Economy, Prof. Bernhard Schölkopf, Baden-Württembergs Science Minister Theresia Bauer, Minister of Economy Dr. Hoffmeister-Kraut, and from Fraunhofer Prof. Wilhelm Bauer und Prof. Thomas Bauernhansl. Image Credit: Cyber Valley research consortium.


Cyber Valley Partnership Strength Makes It an AI ‘Hotspot’ 

The initiative is located in the Stuttgart-Tübingen region and receives its funding from the German Federal State of Baden-Württemberg. In addition to the universities, the Cyber Valley consortium includes the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems, the Max Planck Society, and companies such as Amazon, BMW and Robert Bosch. It is also supported by the Christian Bürkert Foundation, the Gips-Schüle Foundation, the Vector Foundation and the Carl Zeiss Foundation.

“We very much welcome the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft’s participation, as it will help us apply the methods of modern AI, especially in small and medium-sized enterprises,” said Professor Bernhard Schölkopf, director at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems and co-founder of Cyber Valley.

The Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation IPA and the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering IAO joined Cyber Valley in November 2019. Baden-Württemberg touted the addition as further proof that it is the “AI hotspot” in Europe.

“Artificial intelligence is one of the central digital issues of the future and will change our lives from the ground up. For the international economy and industrial value chains, it means a fundamental structural change,” said Professor Reimund Neugebauer, president of Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft.

“By joining Cyber Valley, together with our partners we will advance research and transfer from science to the market in order to fully exploit the potential of this key technology and strengthen Germany as a location for international competition.”


Fraunhofer Will Complement Partner Research 

Baden-Württemberg’s Ministry of Economic Affairs and the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft are also co-financing the AI innovation center Learning Systems (KI-Fortschrittszentrum “Lernende Systeme”), which was incorporated into the Cyber Valley research consortium on the 1st of October. The centre is a laboratory that explores applied research projects in the manufacturing and service industries with an initial team of 20 researchers and planned funding of €10m until the end of 2022.

Additionally, the consortium is supporting joint research labs where fundamental researchers will collaborate with application scientists from IPA or IAO. The projects will be based on market needs assessments, plus feasibility studies and the development of AI application prototypes will be partly financed by the innovation centre’s budget.

“With their application-oriented focus, the Fraunhofer Institutes ideally complement the research of the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems and the universities of Tübingen and Stuttgart,” said Professor Martin Stratmann, president of the Max Planck Society.

“Fraunhofer’s engagement makes it easier to bridge the gap to the industrial partners within Cyber Valley: in this way, findings from basic research can be applied more quickly.”


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