Joint Focus Group AI event: Funding and business opportunities for AI innovators in Europe

As the AI Act has become the first-ever comprehensive regulation on AI in the world, the European Commission launched in January 2024 the AI Innovation Package, a new initiative that promotes the actual development of AI innovation in Europe.

The Joint Focus Group AI, organised by DIGITAL SME and EIT DIGITAL, hosted a meeting with representatives of the European Commission to discuss the scope of the AI Innovation package and the concrete advantages for AI SMEs and start-ups in Europe. Within the AI package measures, special attention was dedicated to financial support as well as other initiatives available for SMEs and start-ups in the area of Generative AI.

The meeting focused on Generative AI, since this technology took the world by storm in 2023. Generative AI can provide firms with in-depth analysis of company data, customised business plans, product and management ideas, and promotional content in a matter of seconds. Firms have been quick on the uptake, with more than a third of EU firms reported to have experimented with AI in 2023.

The Joint FG AI meeting also addressed additional open calls on AI for SMEs, available under the Digital Europe Programme, and served to showcase use cases and uptake of Generative AI by SMEs.

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Shared presentations

Antonio Grasso, Public Affairs Director at DIGITAL SME & Coordinator of the Focus Group Artificial Intelligence

Loredana Bucseneanu, Project Manager at DIGITAL SME & co-coordinator of the Focus Group Artificial Intelligence

Cecile Huet

Head of Unit for Robotics & Artificial Intelligence Innovation and Excellence at DG CNECT (European Commission)

Alex Alexander

Founder at XOOTS

Giovanni Tardini

Founder at Symboolic

Agenda

14:00

Introduction and welcoming remarks by the Joint FG Coordinators

  • Antonio Grasso, Public Affairs Director, European DIGITAL SME Alliance
  • Orestis Trasanidis, EIT AI Leader, EIT Digital

14:10

The AI Innovation Package: European Commission’s plan to support AI SMEs and start-ups

Presentation and discussion by Cecile Huet, Head of Unit, Robotics & Artificial Intelligence Innovation and Excellence, DG CNECT, European Commission on the following items:

  • AI Factories and access to AI computing powers by SMEs
  • 4 billion EUR financial support available under HE and DE dedicated to generative AI made in Europe 
  • GenAI4EUInitiative, which aims to develop and support novel cases and emerging applications in Europe´s 14 ecosystems

14:40

Info Session on Open Calls under the Digital Europe programme

  • Loredana Bucseneanu, Project Manager, DIGITAL SME & Joint FG AI co-coordinator

15:00

EIT DIGITAL Accelerator Program

  • Dénes Csiszár, Accelerator Manager, EIT Digital

15:10

Use cases and uptake of Generative AI by SMEs in Europe


15:30

Open discussion with FG Members and concluding remarks


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