European Commission Launches One-Stop Shop for AI Supercomputers for Startups

European Commission Launches One-Stop Shop for AI Supercomputers for Startups

The European Commission is launching a one-stop shop, granting startups easier access to AI-dedicated supercomputers and boosting AI development.

Technologies related to artificial intelligence (AI) are regarded as a crucial strategic domain for the bloc’s future competitiveness. Generative AI models are particularly interesting because they are trained on massive amounts of data and can produce text, images, or audio on demand.

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Therefore, despite having an impressive network of high-performance supercomputers, the European Union lacks the necessary infrastructure to train the new generation of disruptive generative AI models. The reason for this is that its historical emphasis has been on scientific users and use cases. And lawmakers are now scrambling to add that crucial element that the EU’s AI strategy is currently lacking.

The European Commission said on Wednesday that startups in Europe will have easier access to supercomputers dedicated to artificial intelligence to help in the development of general-purpose AI models. This is part of a new one-stop shop to boost the adoption of the technology.

The proposal from the EU executive follows a deal reached last month between legislators and EU member states on historic rules for the use of powerful AI models such as Microsoft’s ChatGPT and Google’s Bard.

Granting startups easier access

President von der Leyen announced a new initiative in her 2023 State of the Union address to make Europe’s supercomputers available to innovative European AI startups to train their trustworthy AI models.

The Commission introduced a set of initiatives to assist European SMEs and startups in creating reliable AI that complies with EU regulations and values. This follows the political agreement on the EU AI Act, which was reached in December 2023 and will aid in the creation, application, and uptake of reliable AI within the EU.

On the other hand, the Commission unveiled the Large AI Grand Challenge in November 2023, which offers access to supercomputing facilities and funding for AI startups.

Today’s package fulfills this promise with several initiatives to support AI startups and innovation, including a plan to provide special access to supercomputers for AI startups and the larger innovation community.

According to the EU industry chief, Thierry Breton, the launch of AI Factories will bring together the ‘raw materials’ for AI: computing power, data, algorithms, and talent.

The Commission said the one-stop shop, or so-called AI Factories, would assist AI startups and researchers in developing algorithms, testing and validating large-scale AI models, and facilitating their access to AI-dedicated supercomputers.

On computing infrastructure

Regarding compute infrastructure, the executive branch of the European Union has suggested modifying the current European Union laws concerning the cooperative acquisition of high-end supercomputers. This is also known as the Regulation creating the European High-Performance Computing Joint Undertaking, and it is aimed at providing more leeway for upgrades.

However, the goal of the proposed rule change is to give the bloc the flexibility to increase the available capacity of the supercomputers. This was stated by Commission officials, who claimed that the rule change will increase the available capacity of the supercomputers much more quickly than is currently feasible.

Furthermore, even though a political agreement on the AI Act was reached last month, the legislation is still in draft form and will not become final until the Council votes to approve the compromise text that was reached at that time. As a result, even at this late date, there is still a chance that the flagship AI legislation will be derailed.

However, the EU executive is openly moving forward with the establishment of a new public body, the AI Office. This will be responsible for enforcing the Act on general-purpose AIs in anticipation of the flagship AI law setting sail.

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