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The Unimore project on Artificial Intelligence Academy is now complete

Two major funds for a total amount of 1.5 million euros will soon give Unimore the opportunity to start one of the most important international Research Centres in Artificial Vision and Artificial Intelligence, which will be based in the future AI (Artificial Intelligence) Academy at the Modena Technopole.

Thanks to this initiative, the Modena Technopole will become one of the excellence centres in Artificial Intelligence, specialised in Deep Learning and Artificial Vision. This project, thanks to which Modena will boast the biggest AI research centre also specialised in machine learning and computer vision, is a bet for both Regione Emilia Romagna and the Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Modena, financers of 1 million euros and 500 thousand euros respectively.

That money will be used to build a new wing of about 500 sqm next to the Technopole building, dedicated to laboratories that will focus on the most topical and innovative application issues of AI, such as medical imaging, man-robot and man-vehicle interaction, and video surveillance, but also of important theoretical topics such as the development of deep learning that can also be controlled by man. 

As Unimore Professor Rita Cucchiara, Almageab Director of DIEF - “Enzo Ferrari” Department of Engineering and CINI AIIS (Artificial Intelligence and Intelligent Systems) National Laboratory explains, “This will be done in collaboration with the university consortium CINECA, by connecting Modena servers specialised in GPU for neural calculation with the Italian supercomputing resources that will be hosted in the Bologna Technopole”.

Overall, the investment required will be around 2.7 million euros that will be collected from both public finance and private contributions, including Confindustria Emilia Digitale, companies and start-ups, many of which have already had the opportunity to meet and discuss the issues on 17 April in a briefing session dedicated to the AI Academy. Beside the promoters (Unimore, Softech-ICT, AimageLab and Regione Emilia Romagna with the support of Aster and Confindustria Emilia Filiera Digital) also national leading companies attended the event, including Engineering, Leonardo, Chiesi, Credem, European entities such as ESA and the most interesting local entrepreneurial realities of this sector, such as Expert Systems, Doxee, Energyway, Pikkart - which had great suggestions for the activities, including training, to start with for the AI Academy.

The support it will receive from the Max Plank Institute of Tubinga (Germany) and the Innovation Center of AI of Amsterdam (The Netherlands), as part of the ELLIS European network (European Labs Learning and Intelligent Systems), will give the centre an international scope, that is why it will adopt the English language, consistently with the activation of the “Artificial Intelligence Engineering” curriculum in English of the master’s degree programme in IT Engineering of DIEF, that will be activated starting from the new academic year 2019-2020.

The new Centre will extend the skills and research that have been carried out for 20 years in AimageLab laboratories of Unimore, an institution that has gained great importance and reputation both in Italy and abroad, and in which over 25 researchers are working together on these topics.

Starting this year – Professor Rita Cucchiara states – foreign researchers have arrived from China; a visiting professor is also arriving for one year from Northwest Minzu University, paid by the Chinese Republic; soon a joint PhD with Tecnhion in Israel will also start for a project joining Italy through the CINI AIIS national Laboratory, of which I am personally the director, and Fondazione Bruno Kessler of Trento”. 

Internationalisation will be a strategic asset of the new Centre, supported by European projects (like the Deep Health project on AI libraries for the understanding of medical images), partnerships with international companies (mainly Panasonic, Beta Lab in California and the Iarpa Diva project together with the US Kittware for the deep learning in smart city environment) and other European projects in AI supporting automotive and robotics.

The centre will also carry out an important research activity on cultural and creative industries for AI, concerning digital humanities, on which the funding made available by Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Modena within the AGO Centre, and national financing destined to large scale projects, such as IDEA and CULTMEDIA, converge.

AI Academy will be ready to start as early as in the summer with deep learning courses addressed to companies and promoted together with Democenter, and with a great "inception for AI startup” initiative, the only one in Italy organised in Modena by NVIDIA EUROPE

The research aspect in smart cities is of essential importance. What is more, the historic research activity in video surveillance will rely on the MIUR funding of 700,000 euros for a new PREVUE Italian project coordinated by Unimore on predictive capacities of neural networks and the management of smart traffic lights, which sees the cooperation of Crf, Magneti Marelli and Ferrari, to be tested in Modena in the MASA area.

Unimore Rector, Professor Angelo O. Andrisano, remarks that “The main feature of the centre will be the strong link with industrial research and the support to local companies in the difficult though stimulating transformation beyond the digital, that is towards artificial intelligence. Italy still lacks an institution strictly dedicated to post-graduate training and industrial research in AI, and we would like to create it in Modena. This thanks to the funding by the Region and the support of Confindustria Emilia Digitale, and of other companies and start-ups that will allow us to create an AI Academy aimed at becoming a meeting point for students, researchers and companies on cross-section topics of Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Artificial Vision, predictive analysis, applied to all manufacturing fields, to finance, medicine, and in most of all to local IT companies that will necessarily have to grow in the next future”.

Professor Rita Cucchiara ends by saying that “Europe expects a 15 million dollar AI market to develop in Europe by 2030, equivalent to 14% of global GDP. We want part of it to be manufactured in Emilia Romagna, and Modena with the AI Academy and Aimagelab research centre to be the core of it. We provide university training at international level, we have PhD programmes, researchers and companies operating on these topics with skills and enviable capacities. We need to make the young start-ups grow and consolidate them not to let them run abroad, and remain an Italian heritage for Italy for the generations to come”.

Regione Emilia-Romagna – the Regional Minister for Manufacturing Activities,  Palma Costi, explained - has financed with nearly one million euros the industrial research and technological transfer Centre dedicated to artificial intelligence and design of smart systems, with the awareness that the techniques designed for local industry may largely affect the competitiveness of the territory, classifying the manufacturing chain in support of ‘good’ employment. The fourth industrial revolution teaches us that what we should do now is promote connections, cooperate, network, raise awareness, abandon old approaches and open to the world and new ideas”.

The choice of contributing to the realization of the Academy – the President of the Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Modena, Paolo Cavicchioli, states – is in line with the strategic objectives that the Foundation set for these years: supporting projects that value the talent and the ideas of young people in research; stimulating excellent scientific production of the territory; promoting the dialogue between the world of research and the world of enterprises. The contribution of the Foundation will allow us to apply artificial intelligence also to our cultural heritage and support the creation in the city of a Centre for digital humanities. Artificial intelligence is deeply changing our way of producing, working, thinking. The challenge ahead of us is to govern this great process of innovation by making it become an opportunity, not only for the economy but also for the culture”.

Categorie: International - english

Articolo pubblicato da: Ufficio Stampa Unimore - ufficiostampa@unimore.it