EU’s Commitment to Empower AI Start-Ups: Access to Supercomputers for SMEs

In a remarkable move towards fostering innovation and accelerating the development of Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies, the European Commission and the European High-Performance Computing Joint Undertaking (EuroHPC JU) have jointly committed to providing open and expanded access to the EU’s world-class supercomputing resources for AI start-ups, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs), and the broader AI community. This commitment is a part of the EU AI Start-Up Initiative and signifies a significant leap forward in Europe’s journey towards becoming a global leader in AI innovation and competitiveness.

Unlocking the Power of Supercomputing for AI

Access to high-performance supercomputers is crucial for the further development and scalability of AI models. These supercomputers have the capacity to accelerate AI training and testing processes, reducing training time from months or years to a matter of weeks. This remarkable development is set to empower AI start-ups, enabling them to lead the way in responsible AI development while adhering to European values.

Ursula von der Leyen
Ursula von der Leyen, Source: EC – Audiovisual Service

President Ursula von der Leyen highlighted the importance of this initiative, stating, “Europe is a leader in supercomputing, thanks to the investments we made in recent years. We have three state-of-the-art supercomputers in the EU. And we need to put this power to use. The access to Europe’s supercomputing infrastructure that we are announcing today will help start-ups lead the development and scale-up of artificial intelligence in a responsible manner, and in line with European values.”

Europe’s World-Class Supercomputers

Currently, the European Union stands at the forefront of supercomputing worldwide. Three of the EU’s supercomputers, namely LEONARDO, LUMI, and MareNostrum5, are world-class, thanks to the efforts of the EuroHPC JU. Furthermore, with the impending extension of EuroHPC JU’s capabilities to exascale performance, European supercomputing resources will play a pivotal role in creating and training extensive foundational AI models.

Next Steps and Initiatives

The European Commission, along with the participating states of the EuroHPC Joint Undertaking, will collaborate to accelerate research, development, demonstration, and deployment efforts related to the European supercomputing infrastructure. The key initiatives include:

  • Large AI Grand Challenge:
    • Launched in collaboration with the EU-funded project AI-BOOST, this competition encourages European start-ups with expertise in large-scale AI models to participate.
    • Winners are expected to release their developed models under open-source licences or through research findings, promoting knowledge sharing.
    • Up to four promising European AI start-ups will be granted access to EuroHPC supercomputing facilities, with a €1 million prize distributed among the winners.
  • Opening Up European Supercomputer Capacity:
    • Ethical and responsible AI start-ups will gain access to European supercomputers, enabling efficient model training.
  • Enhanced Activities and Services:
    • The EuroHPC JU will advance activities and services powered by High-Performance Computing to foster trustworthy AI in Europe.
    • These efforts aim to increase accessibility for AI communities and promote efficient use of HPC technologies for innovation.

Supercompters in background

Proposed Regulation Changes

As part of the 2024 Commission Work Programme, changes to the Regulation on the EuroHPC Joint Undertaking will be proposed to ensure sustainable and durable access to European supercomputer capacity for European AI start-ups.

The commitment to provide AI start-ups with access to Europe’s high-performance supercomputing resources is a significant stride towards boosting innovation in AI and positioning the European Union as a global competitive leader. By nurturing AI innovation and fostering responsible development, Europe is on the path to shaping the future of AI technology while upholding its core values.

This initiative underscores Europe’s dedication to staying at the forefront of technological advancement, and the entire AI community eagerly anticipates the transformative impact this access will have on the European AI landscape. Stay tuned for further updates on this ground breaking endeavour, as Europe’s journey towards AI excellence unfolds.


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