The Berlin AI Competence Center, the Berlin Institute for the Foundations of Learning and Data (BIFOLD) at Technische Unviersität Berlin, hosted an international research symposium and ceremony to celebrate securing permanent federal-state annual funding of 22 million euros. The institutional partner for this new inter-university central institute is Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin. Permanent funding for BIFOLD secures Berlin’s future position as AI capital.
As the successor project of the Berlin Big Data Center (BBDC) and the Berlin Center for Machine Learning, BIFOLD conducts top level international research at the interfaces between big data management (BD) and machine learning (ML). It is precisely this process of bringing these two key technologies together that serves to drive innovation in artificial intelligence (AI). BIFOLD generates genuinely new findings for science, industry and society. The partnership with Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin additionally creates substantial added value and fosters the development of digitization in medicine.
On 15 and 16 September, BIFOLD hosted an international research symposium attended by researchers from its partner institutions as well as a number of high-profile speakers. Among those congratulating the researchers at the concluding official ceremony at the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities on 16 September was governing mayor of Berlin Franziska Giffey: “The federal-state funding of 22 million euros per year with 11 million contributed by the State of Berlin is further proof of Berlin’s importance and influence as a center of science and research. It confirms the city’s leading role as an international center for pioneering AI research. The cooperation between BIFOLD and Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin benefits both partners and is of great importance for Berlin as a city of healthcare.”
In her welcome speech, state secretary at the Federal Ministry of Education and Research Judith Pirscher stressed the role of BIFOLD within the network of national AI centers: “Artificial intelligence is a key technology with great potential for science, industry and society. We must take advantage of this. The permanent funding structure for AI Competence Centers is a genuine milestone for research in Germany. We also wish to achieve technological sovereignty for artificial intelligence. This requires excellent research, leading minds, rapid transfer and dependable structures. The AI Centers bring together these four cornerstones, as is demonstrated by the integration of research on machine learning and data management at BIFOLD, the extraordinarily broad range of courses offered in these areas as well as the close cooperation with Charité and other partners.”
In her welcome speech, TU Berlin president Geraldine Rauch highlighted the importance of top level research at the University: “BIFOLD not only makes a major contribution to TU Berlin’s reputation in research, it also offers the city's students a unique opportunity to participate in and help shape leading research in AI, an important field of the future. More than 160 doctoral candidates and 420 master’s students were trained in BIFOLD’s predecessor projects and each year, some 1,800 students attend the introductory lecture in big data management and machine learning at TU Berlin.”
Professor Dr. Heyo Kroemer, chief executive officer of Charité – Universitätsmedizin sees the cooperation with BIFOLD as a major opportunity for Berlin as a city of healthcare: “The digitization and structuring of clinical data is the basis of modern medicine. However, these processes require fundamental improvement to make them effective for patient care; state-of-the-art data analytics are needed, and BIFOLD is developing these in the form of Big Data and AI technologies."
The directors of BIFOLD, Professor Dr. Volker Markl and Professor Dr. Klaus-Robert Müller, used the occasion to thank all scientific partners and representatives from politics for their cooperation and stressed the importance of BIFOLD’s work: “Scientific knowledge and the potential of new AI technologies are constantly increasing. Our mission is to create a research environment here at BIFOLD to attract the brightest minds in AI to Berlin and jointly develop innovative, efficient, sustainable and explainable AI systems.”
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Written by: Katharina Jung