EU to invest EUR 9n in AI, cybersec, supercomputers

European Union has shed light on its first programme focusing on innovative technology including supercomputers, artificial intelligence and cybersecurity. Common European libraries of AI algorithms will be created.

Under the plans, the European Commission has proposed to invest a total of EUR9.2 billion over a period of seven years from 2021 to 2027 as part of ongoing efforts to keep pace with digital transformation in the future. The EC wants to take a leadership role in these areas under heavy pressure from the US, China, Japan and South Korea.

Of these, the EC plans to allocate EUR 2.7 billion to high-performance supercomputer and data processing projects. These are set to play a key role in the development of areas such as health care, renewable energy, car safety and cybersecurity. Digital Europe will aim to deploy a world-class supercomputer and data infrastructure with exascale capabilities (a billion billion or 1018 calculations per second) by 2022/2023, and post exascale facilities by 2026/2027, endowing the EU with its own independent and competitive technology supply, achieving excellence in applications and widening supercomputing availability and use. The planned initiatives will build on the European strategy on supercomputers that will help the EU advance in many areas from health care and renewable energy to car safety and cybersecurity.

Another EUR 2 billion is planned to boost cyber defence and the EU's cybersecurity industry, safeguarding the EU's digital economy, society and democracies through boosting cyber defence and the EU's cybersecurity industry, financing state-of-the-art cybersecurity equipment and infrastructure as well as supporting the development of the necessary skills and knowledge.

A further EUR 2.5 billion will be allocated to help spread AI across the European economy and society via common 'European libraries' of algorithms accessible to all. Open platforms and access to industrial data spaces for artificial intelligence will be made available across the EU in Digital Innovation Hubs, providing testing facilities and knowledge to small businesses and local innovators.

Digital skills will see EUR700 million pumped in, with Digital Innovation Hubs set up to help small and medium-sized enterprises and public administrations via training courses and on-the-job traineeships. Finally, EUR 1.3 billion will be allocated to ensuring the digital transformation of public administration and public services and their EU-wide interoperability.

The EC said the Digital Europe programme is part of the "Single Market, Innovation and Digital" chapter of the EU's long-term budget proposal. Andrus Ansip, Vice-President for the Digital Single Market, said: "The Digital Single Market provides the legal framework to ensure people and companies fully benefit from the digital transformation. Our aim has been to make the EU budget fit for future challenges: digital transformation is taken into account across all proposals, from transport, energy and agriculture to healthcare and culture. To reinforce this, today we are proposing more investment in artificial intelligence, supercomputing, cybersecurity, skills and eGovernment – all identified by EU leaders as the key areas for the future competitiveness of the EU."

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