Millions for AI knowledge and investment consortium
A knowledge and investment consortium has been awarded an €8 million grant to accelerate the application and marketing of innovations in the field of Artificial Intelligence (AI). This gives a great boost to AI within Utrecht University and other Dutch universities.
The TTT.AI consortium will focus on transferring knowledge generated by AI research and providing early-stage funding to start-ups. The University of Amsterdam is the consortium’s lead organisation, while LUMO Labs from Eindhoven is the investor responsible for providing early-stage funding. The consortium is set to receive a grant under the Thematic Technology Transfer (TTT) scheme of the Rijksdienst voor Ondernemend Nederland (Netherlands Enterprise Agency).
Prof. Isabel Arends, Dean of the Faculty of Science, sees a beautiful role for Utrecht University: ‘We are strongly committed to multidisciplinary cooperation in the field of AI. We already have a strong tradition of AI teaching and research. With TTT.AI, we now want to extend this to entrepreneurship and the launch of start-ups. We believe that both have a hugely important role to play in this field.’
Artificial Intelligence in the Utrecht region
Prof. Dr. Mehdi Dastani, Professor of Intelligent Systems, emphasizes the new opportunities: ‘We see the worldwide large-scale emergence of innovative companies and business models that are entirely based on AI technology and solutions. Fortunately, the Netherlands is starting to invest more and more in AI research, education and valorization. The honoring of this project is great news for AI startups in the Utrecht region, but also for Utrecht University's valorization activities in AI, such as the AI Field Labs and the recently established AI hub Midden Nederland. The project's emphasis on research expertise and innovative capacity in the field of Human Centered AI creates many opportunities but also responsibilities for the focus area. The collaborations between these initiatives will undoubtedly lead to a strong AI ecosystem in the Utrecht region.’
One-stop shop for AI start-ups
The consortium has brought together a number of top researchers, business developers, investors and entrepreneurs in the field of AI. Its primary themes are health care, security and human-centred AI, but promising initiatives regarding other themes can count on the consortium’s support as well.
In the future, TTT.AI will be the ultimate one-stop shop in the Netherlands for AI start-ups rooted in knowledge institutions. ‘This AI consortium will enable us to take more of the AI initiatives developed by our knowledge institutions to market and out into society. The cooperation between consortium members and the extensive scope the consortium has to grant early-stage funding will put us in an even better position to make optimal use of everyone’s strengths,’ says Peter Westerhuijs, the consortium’s project leader and a business developer at IXA-UvA.
The consortium brings together an unprecedented number of influential Dutch players in the field of AI. The most prominent of these are the University of Amsterdam, VU Amsterdam, Utrecht University, Radboud University, Eindhoven University of Technology, the university medical centres in Amsterdam, Utrecht and Nijmegen and the National Research Institute for Mathematics and Computer Science in the Netherlands. The consortium’s other partners are the Netherlands’ other universities of technology, universities of applied sciences, incubators, regional development corporations, the Netherlands AI Coalition and the Innovation Centre for Artificial Intelligence (ICAI).
The need for cooperation in the field of AI is becoming increasingly evident in the Netherlands. With this in mind, ambitious agendas for joint research have been launched nationally and regionally in recent times and universities and businesses have joined forces to increase the impact of AI. However, a national approach to the promotion of AI start-ups has been absent until now. The TTT scheme will make it possible to accelerate the application and marketing of technological innovations. As such, the consortium will strengthen the position of the Netherlands as one of the most advanced AI hubs in Europe.