New EU Funding and Coordinated Plan for AI

Jan 08 2019

Artificial intelligence, or AI for short, has the potential to revolutionise our lives but we need to understand its real-world benefits and plan its usage carefully in Europe.

That’s why the European Commission has published two important reports:

  • A coordinated plan on artificial intelligence.

  • New guidelines on how to deal with the ethical issues.

Both reports put humans at the centre of this key technology as it’s essential to use AI to help humans and not develop it for its own sake but make sure it serves the greater good of society. 

Here we take a look at the European coordinated plan and new funding for AI, giving some examples of what is already being developed and testing.

European Funding and Coordinated Plan for Artificial Intelligence

The EU has been supporting Artificial Intelligence (AI) for many years but now plans to boost investments through the next funding programme, Digital Europe (2021-2028). It is expected that €2.5 billion will be made available to spur development and uptake across Europe and beyond. The funds come on top of the €1.5 billion being invested between now and 2020 to help drive European leadership on AI. Expected investments from member states and the private sector could bring this figure close to €20 billion in the same period. It’s essential that member states and the Commission work together to maximise investment impacts and drive Europe’s competitiveness.

However, funding is not for funding’s sake but part of a coordinated plan on artificial intelligence, setting out how the EU plans to target investments and coordinate the development of AI across the EU with a strong focus on human needs.

Here are some of the ways innovators can benefit from the new plan starting in 2019

  • Making €100 million available by 2020 to support European AI start-ups.

  • Building networks of European AI research centres of excellence to improve cooperation between the best teams in Europe.

  • Creating a common European Data Space with a focus on healthcare enabling re-use of data by innovators, businesses and the public sector.

  • Developing an AI-on-demand platform pooling knowledge and expertise to expand access to existing body of work on AI in the EU.

  • Attracting and retaining skilled AI professionals in the EU.

Snapshot of AI developments and Testing in Europe

With the plan in mind, it’s important that innovators across the public and private sectors have a good idea of what is already being developed and tested on AI, thus avoiding unnecessary overlap. Here’s a snapshot to get you started.

(Semi-)Autonomous driving

Road accidents have huge societal and economic impacts, and are a major concern for public safety. As human error is the main cause of accidents, intelligent driver systems monitoring the driver’s state and behaviour could lead to improved collective safety.

VI-DAS (vision-inspired driver assistance systems) is an EU project taking forward the design of next-gen 720° connected scene analysis and driver status (ADAS).  Advances in sensors, data fusion, machine learning and user feedback give the capability of understanding driver, vehicle and scene context as significant steps towards truly semi-autonomous vehicles. Cars driven by using AI turn the human eyes, ears, feet and hands into sensors and the data collected sends back all the signals a driver would normally process, e.g. how close the car is to other vehicles, what speed is it travelling, the behaviour of other road users such as cyclists or pedestrians, etc.  VI-DAS is developing a system that will allow cars to switch seamlessly between their human and automated drivers, based on data from real drivers in a variety of conditions and cases.


The European project MURAB stands for MRI and ultrasound robotic assisted biopsy. Current techniques used to diagnose breast cancer can lead to 10-20% of patients being wrongly informed. What’s more , tissue sampling methods are lengthy and often inaccurate. MURAB sets out to change this by  developing a more accurate technique that overlays MRI scans taken by AI-driven robots with images from ultrasound and pressure sensors to a give a much clearer view of potentially diseased areas and making it easier to target the area for tissue samples.

Smart cities

AI will have many potential applications in smart cities, from helping identify people in crowds using face-recognition software - preventing terrorist attacks or finding a lost child in a crowd - to monitoring air quality conditions and taking appropriate actions like limiting traffic flows or sending out automatic alerts to citizens. Diverse applications are already being tested in European projects that are part of the IoT Large-scale pilots programmesuch as ACTIVAGE, Autopilot, IoF, CREATE-IoT, MONICA, Synchronicity and U4IoT.  The projects bring together innovators to facilitate the deployment of IoT solutions in Europe by integrating advanced IoT technologies across the value chain, demonstrating multiple IoT applications at scale and in a usage context as close as possible to operational conditions.

ACTIVAGE (activating innovative IoT smart living environment for ageing well): deploying and operating at large scale Active & Healthy Ageing IoT based solutions and services, supporting and extending the independent living of older adults in their living environments, and responding to real needs of caregivers, service providers and public authorities.

AutoPilot (automated driving progressed by Internet of Things): increasing safety, providing more comfort and creating many new business opportunities for mobility services.

IoF (Internet of food and farm 2020): accelerating the adoption of IoT for securing sufficient, safe and healthy food and strengthening the competitiveness of farming and food chains in Europe.

MONICA (management of networked IoT Wearables - very large-scale demonstration of cultural societal): providing a very large-scale demonstration of multiple existing and new Internet of Things technologies for Smarter Living.

CREATE-IoT (cross fertilisation through alignment synchronisation and exchanges for IoT): stimulating collaboration between IoT initiatives, fostering the uptake of IoT in Europe and supporting the development and growth of IoT ecosystems based on open technologies and platforms. 

Synchronicity (delivering an IoT enabled Digital Single Market for Europe and Beyond: working to establish a reference architecture for the envisioned IoT-enabled city market place with identified interoperability points, interfaces and data models for different verticals. Synchronicity is a member of the early adopters Club for the next generation internet.

U4IoT (user engagement for large scale pilots in the Internet of Things): developing a toolkit for large-scale pilot end-user engagement and adoption, including online resources, privacy-compliant crowdsourcing tools, guidelines and an innovative privacy game for personal data protection risk assessment and awareness, online training modules.

Sources: European AI Alliance; Digital Single Market; IoT Large Scape Pilot Programme. 

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7 comments on "New EU Funding and Coordinated Plan for AI"

  • Tomaž Vidonja's picture
    Tomaz Vidonja

    Hi Stephanie,
    great article. Could you please share links to the reports mentioned at the beginning of your article?
    > A coordinated plan on artificial intelligence.
    > New guidelines on how to deal with the ethical issues.
    Thank you!
    Kind regards

    answered 22 Jan 2019 12:43
  • Alexey Anshakov's picture

    Interesting, but not sure how they're going to deal with:
    >New guidelines on how to deal with the ethical issues.
    Ethics is not absolute. Some things are ethical for one community and unacceptable for others.

    answered 23 Jan 2019 09:58
  • Stephanie Parker's picture
    Stephanie Helen Parker

    Dear Alexey, 

    Fair point. It certainly look like a topic that will be discussed for some time to come.

    Best wishes,



    answered 23 Jan 2019 16:04
  • Christian de Larrinaga's picture

    Thanks for the links Stephanie. That is very helpful.

    Regarding autonomous decision making. Is there any analysis or work going on that is considering the current state of market dynamics where the vast bulk of devices carry proprietary code designed, manufactured and updated from outside Europe and the US?

    Happy New Year everybody!



    answered 05 Feb 2019 11:09
  • Stephanie Parker's picture
    Stephanie Helen Parker

    Hi Christian,

    I no expert but it looks like an important topic that needs attention. We also need to bear in mind that software can come from anywhere - so this should not be a regional or national issue, and that AI can only be as good (or bad) as the humans that create it.

    Security and privacy issues were a hot topic during the session on cybersecurity during ICT2018. Here's the discussion channel on ICT2018, covering other topics related to the next generation internet.

    This image from PWC/AI2019 on Responsible AI was shared on one of our networks yesterday. I think it makes some good points.

    All the very best to you and everyone in our community for 2019 and beyond.



    answered 05 Feb 2019 12:25