Artificial Intelligence: industry and academia join forces to excel in applied research

  • Europe is a global leader in the research of (ethical) Artificial Intelligence (AI), but it lags behind the USA and China in its industrial applications. The new Horizon 2020 project CISC seeks to bridge the gap between research and industrial application of AI.

  • Leveraging on the EU’s human-centric AI approach, CISC will provide high-level training to 14 world-class scientists, forging an inter-disciplinary skill set for the development of collaborative intelligence systems and connecting research with industrial applications.

  • To support Europe in taking leadership, DIGITAL SME will recruit a PhD researcher, specialising in ethical and legal aspects of AI, who will work closely with its Focus Group on AI.

Europe is a global leader in academic research of human-centric artificial intelligence. In 2016, the EU represented 25% of the top most-cited AI publications, followed by the US and China [1]. However, when it comes to market uptake, especially industrial applications, we are leagues behind [2].To address this gap, DIGITAL SME is launching the CISC (Collaborative Intelligence for Safety Critical systems) project. Its collaborative intelligence framework will allow 14 world-class AI researchers to gain interdisciplinary skills, get employed with the industrial players (and European SMEs!) and apply their research in practice.

A human-centric AI approach connecting research with applications

The CISC project is a joint effort of organisations from academia and business. It is coordinated by the H2020 framework’s Marie Skłodowska Curie action. The importance and potential of AI-driven automation in domains like manufacturing, healthcare and transport is tremendous. However, few understand the importance of AI systems’ interaction and collaboration with humans. CISC will train researchers capable of addressing this shortcoming and contribute to the EU human-centric approach to artificial intelligence. 

In a nutshell, the project will: 1) train researchers with interdisciplinary skills and intersectoral experience in the field of AI-driven automation for Industry 4.0; 2) promote academic-industry collaborations; and 3) foster European scientific excellence.

Tackling the ethical and legal aspects of AI with a PhD researcher

In the project framework, DIGITAL SME will recruit a PhD researcher specialising in ethical and legal aspects of AI. During the employment period at DIGITAL SME, the researcher will not only work towards the project’s scientific goals, but will also contribute to the objectives and activities of the DIGITAL SME/JRC Focus Group on AI.

The researcher will also tackle legal and ethical issues of AI and policy recommendations related to the treatment of mixed (personal and non-personal) data sets, explore standardisation approaches to AI and data formats, and work with SMEs to analyse the practical implementation of ethical AI, e.g. via standards, quality criteria, certification and labelling.

The researcher will be enrolled in the PhD programme at the TU Dublin and guided by two outstanding academic advisors. Within DIGITAL SME, the researcher will closely work with Senior Policy Manager Annika Linck, who is coordinating DIGITAL SME’s Focus Group on AI and overseeing our policy work on AI.

DIGITAL SME’s role: building bridges between CISC and the industry, with the Focus Group on AI

Besides hiring and co-mentoring the researcher, DIGITAL SME will also lead CISC’s scientific dissemination, communication and exploitation activities. It will be responsible for the project’s wide outreach to the science community and industry, as well as for the preparation of the exploitation plan for the technical solutions developed during the project.

This 48-month-long endeavour is part of DIGITAL SME’s focus on AI as a key technology for the competitiveness of Europe’s digital economy. To empower Europe in becoming a true leader, more than 100 AI innovators from across Europe have been gathered and now work within the Focus Group on AI. DIGITAL SME looks forward to this new project to promote European values through a strong, human-centric approach to AI. Together with the partners and Focus Group’s members, we seek to propel the EU to the front of the AI-race by facilitating skills and knowledge transfer, and by bringing together AI research with industrial applications. Learn more about CISC here.


[1] OECD (2019) Measuring the Digital Transformation: a Roadmap for the Future. https://www.oecd.org/publications/measuring-the-digital-transformation-9789264311992-en.htm
[2] Correia and Reyes (2020) AI research and innovation: Europe paving its own way. https://op.europa.eu/en/publication-detail/-/publication/2f4dea95-288c-11eb-9d7e-01aa75ed71a1/