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EU boosts AI startup innovation with supercomputer access

The Commission and the European High-Performance Computing Joint Undertaking (EuroHPC JU) committed to open and widen access to the EU’s world-class supercomputing resources for European artificial intelligence (AI) start-ups, SMEs and the broader AI community as part of the EU AI Start-Up Initiative. To support the further development and scalability of AI models, access to world-class supercomputers that accelerate AI training and testing is crucial, reducing training time from months or years to a matter of weeks.

The statement was made in the context of the fourth AI Alliance Assembly in Madrid and follows an announcement by President von der Leyen in her 2023 State of the Union address. European AI and high-performance computing (HPC) actors will closely cooperate to drive breakthrough innovation and enhance the competitiveness of the European AI industrial ecosystem. This will accelerate the development of AI and position the European Union as a global competitive leader.

President Ursula von der Leyen said: “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.”

The European Union is currently at the forefront of supercomputing worldwide. Three of the EU’s supercomputers are world-class – LEONARDO, LUMI and MareNostrum5 – owing to the efforts of the EuroHPC JU. With the forthcoming extension of EuroHPC JU’s capabilities to exascale performance and beyond with the JUPITER and JULES VERNE consortium exascale supercomputers that will be even more powerful in working with AI models, European supercomputing resources will play a pivotal role in the creation and training of extensive foundational AI models.

Next Steps
Participating States of the EuroHPC Joint Undertaking, with the support of the European Commission, will accelerate research, development, demonstration, and deployment efforts related to the European supercomputing infrastructure. This commitment aims to contribute to the Union’s overarching goal of establishing a global AI ecosystem that is trustworthy and responsible. As such, this will mean:

  • Launch of the Large AI grand challenge: This competition – launched today, is a collaboration led by the EU funded project AI-BOOST, with access to the European Supercomputers being facilitated by the EuroHPC JU. It encourages the wide participation from European start-ups with experience in large-scale AI models. The winners are expected to release the developed models under an open-source license for non-commercial use, or through publishing their research findings. The challenge will select up to four promising European AI start-ups that will be given access to EuroHPC supercomputing facilities to foster the development of large-scale AI models in Europe and a €1 million prize will be distributed among the winners.
  • Opening up European supercomputer capacity: Access will be established for ethical and responsible AI start-ups, enabling them to efficiently train their models using European supercomputers.
  • 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 will aim to facilitate increased accessibility for AI communities and promote the optimal and efficient use of HPC technologies for scientific and industrial innovation.

Moreover, as part of the 2024 Commission Work Programme, we will propose changes to the Regulation on the EuroHPC Joint Undertaking to ensure a sustainable and durable access to European supercomputer capacity for European AI start-ups.

CT Bureau

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