Launch of an AI Ecosystem Mapping Initiative with the AI Networks of Excellence

Launch of an AI Ecosystem Mapping Initiative with the AI Networks of Excellence

VISION, in collaboration with the European Commission and nine AI Networks of Excellence (NoE), has launched an ecosystem mapping initiative to provide an overview of AI-related research, development, and innovation activities across Europe. The mapping tool is one of the activities through which VISION aims to foster collaboration and empower the European AI research & innovation ecosystem.

Figure 2: The distribution of survey responses across Europe

The ecosystem mapping initiative is driven by TNO, a research & technology organization and partner organization of the VISION project, and collaborated to define research areas, collect the data, and develop a prototype tool. The development of the mapping tool began in late 2023, and a full prototype has been completed. Data from over 330 partner organizations is being collected through a survey. The resulting dataset consists mainly of universities (one half) and research & technology organizations (one quarter), that are well-distributed across Europe and associated countries. Other organisations are large enterprises, SMEs, and specific types of organisations within the consortia.

To ensure the sustainability of the ecosystem mapping beyond the VISION project, ending in August 2024, the initiative turned to several other initiatives for help. University College Cork, another VISION partner, is highly experienced with mappings and has been a driving force behind the AI-on-demand platform and University of Twente, partner in the Adra-e project, is responsible for cartography of the innovation ecosystem. Together, the three parties initiated a Joint Topic Group of the AI-Data-Robotics association (Adra), intended as an open forum for the further development of the mapping. This Joint Topic Group on ‘Ecosystem Mapping & Information Repository’ (EMIR) has been founded with the mission to maximize the effectiveness of the AI, Data and Robotics community by supporting the development and maintenance of an ecosystem mapping and information services that are of value to the ADR research & innovation community.

While the NoEs already achieved the great results, this is just the beginning. In the first year technical and organizational aspects should be further developed to securing funding for the tool’s development. Also, more representatives should join the discussion. A session on the ecosystem mapping will be held during the NoE Community Workshop in June 2024 to inform and engage the AI research & innovation community. If you or your organization is interested in contributing, please join Adra and join the topic group.

TNO, a partner in the VISION project, is responsible for the ecosystem mapping initiative. TNO is an independent not-for-profit research organization with the mission to create impactful innovations for the sustainable wellbeing and prosperity of society. The ecosystem mapping is managed by TNO Vector – Centre for Societal Innovation and Strategy. TNO Vector aims to accelerate the societal embedding of innovation and help public and private parties respond to the major societal developments and challenges of our time.

The lead contact for this activity is Claudio Lazo (e-mail), digital innovation and policy scientist at TNO Vector.