Commission launches call for proposals to develop AI Excellence Centres


On 12 July, the European Commission has launched a call for proposals to develop a European network of artificial intelligence (AI) centres. Proposals for the call may be submitted up till 13 November 2019.

Key Points

  • The call articulates in two actions: first, through research and innovation to mobilize the best researchers into networks of excellence research centres that will reach a critical mass on key AI topics, and second, through coordination and support, which aims to foster exchange between the selected projects and other relevant initiatives.
  • The Commission aims to use the network to create synergies with the industrial sector and foster an ecosystem of R&D resources, and expertise in digital infrastructure (in areas such as robotics).
  • The Commission is giving academia priority for funding particularly to the development of PhD programmes and the integration of AI in curricula and organization of internships.


  • The Commission’s emphasis on establishing cooperation between industry and the public sector demonstrates that the EU recognizes the potential industry retains to collect and organize data in order to feed AI systems. The specific focus on academia may highlight a mechanism that facilitates the synergy between the private and public sector as the academic environment can engage both the public and private sector in developing AI specific projects.


  • The call comes after the recent announcement of the €20 million investment for the creation of the AI4EU, an online platform that allows the exchange of AI tools and resources across Europe, in line with the European AI Strategy.
  • The European AI Strategy focuses on three key pillars: (1) being ahead of technological developments and encouraging uptake by the public and private sectors of AI, (2) preparing for socio-economic changes brought about by AI, and (3) ensuring an appropriate ethical and legal framework. To ensure these pillars are met, the Commission is increasing its annual investment in AI by 70% under Horizon 2020, reaching EUR 1.5 billion for the period 2018-2020.

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