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Multi-Million funding for AI research “Made In Berlin”

Joint press release of the Senate Department for Higher Education and Research, Health, Long-Term Care and Gender Equality, BIFOLD and Technische Universität Berlin

Berlin’s AI competence center the Berlin Institute for the Foundations of Learning and Data (BIFOLD) at Technische Universität Berlin (TUB) has now made the transition from project funding to permanent joint funding provided by the federal government and the State of Berlin. This sees the establishment of a national AI competence center in Berlin that will make an important contribution to the development and applications of artificial intelligence. Through a partnership with Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, BIFOLD is set to become a cross-university central institute in the near future.

BIFOLD will receive institutional funding of 22 million euros annually from 1 July 2022 as part of the federal-state AI strategy implementation funding program. Half of the funding will be provided by the federal government with the remaining funding coming from the State of Berlin.

Senator for higher education and research Ulrike Grote: “Permanent federal-state funding for BIFOLD as a national AI competence center represents a milestone in Berlin’s journey towards becoming a leading international center for AI research. It is also a recognition of the city’s innovative power as a center of science and research as well as the importance of examining how artificial intelligence can improve our lives. I would like to thank TU Berlin for its contribution to this process and wish everyone involved every success on this exciting journey!

Prof. Dr. Geraldine Rauch, president of TU Berlin: “By funding BIFOLD on the campus of Technische Universität Berlin, the federal government and the State of Berlin are supporting a unique nucleus in the area of artificial intelligence. BIFOLD brings together research, teaching and innovation at the interface between Big Data and machine learning and has already achieved a high international reputation. Funding research into the technological foundations of AI at public universities rather than just leaving it to private enterprises is the right approach for the future. As an integral part of our university, BIFOLD is also very well equipped for the essential task of linking the topic to issues affecting society. A further goal of the research center is to keep pace in the international competition for leading minds in the area of AI, and parallel to this to train the AI experts so urgently needed for the future. BIFOLD contributes significantly to Berlin as a center of science. I would like to congratulate everyone who made this major success possible. This is a great achievement for Berlin!”

Prof. Dr. Volker Markl, co-director at BIFOLD and professor at TU Berlin: “In BIFOLD, we focus on researching the theoretical and algorithmic foundations of data management and machine learning as well as related technologies and systems. It is precisely this research at the interface between machine learning and data management that will competitively drive the applications of artificial intelligence at international level. Our goal is to develop entirely novel economic as well as scientific and technical applications.”

Prof. Dr. Klaus-Robert Müller, co-director of BIFOLD and professor at TU Berlin: “What is important for us is to create new knowledge using AI, in other words to gain genuinely new insights in areas such as medicine and chemistry. Parallel to this, we are developing structures and open platforms for knowledge and technology transfer and thus helping to foster an effective environment for innovation in the Berlin metropolitan region. The Berlin university landscape offers both internationally recognized research groups, with whom we are already working closely, and many other relevant research institutions to examine and discuss the implications of AI for society.

BIFOLD emerged in 2020 from two Federal Ministry of Education and Research competence centers at Technische Universität Berlin, the Berlin Big Data Center (BBDC) and the Berlin Center for Machine Learning (BCML), which were financed by federal government project funding from 2014 and 2018 respectively. BIFOLD is to be expanded with additional Berlin partner institutions. A cooperation agreement with the Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin to develop BIFOLD as a cross-university central institute is to be signed in the coming days.

At a meeting of the Joint Science Conference on 13 November 2020, the federal government and the states of Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, Berlin, North Rhine-Westphalia and Saxony adopted a federal-state agreement to establish five national AI competence centers. Up until now, these centers, including BIFOLD, have been financed by project funding from the Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Starting 1 July 2022, they will receive joint institutional funding from the federal government and their own state (a total of 100 million euros per year for all five centers on a 50/50 basis).

A federal-state committee was set up to oversee the establishment of the centers and their further development as well as define the relevant framework conditions. The decision regarding the permanent funding level for all five centers was taken by the committee on 17 December 2021 following a science-led review process. The centers will receive total funding of between 19.2 and 22 million euros per year starting 2023.