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ROBUST AI programme receives 25 million euros from Dutch Research Council

The ROBUST consortium, which is the initiative of the Innovation Center for Artificial intelligence (ICAI), has received 25 million euros from the Dutch Research Council (NWO) to strengthen fundamental AI research. The Leiden interdisciplinary research programme SAILS is part of ROBUST.

ROBUST is an alliance of 17 knowledge institutions, 19 industry sponsors and 15 civil society organisations from the Netherlands. The University of Amsterdam (UvA) is leading the ROBUST programme. SAILS, the Leiden interdisciplinary research programme, is part of ROBUST. ROBUST aims to strengthen the Dutch artificial intelligence (AI) ecosystem by boosting fundamental AI research. Its main focus is on developing trustworthy AI technology to resolve society’s problems in sectors such as healthcare, logistics, media, food and energy. The Dutch Research Council has earmarked 25 million euros for the consortium for the next ten years. ROBUST’s total budget, which also comes from the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy and businesses, amounts to 87.7 million euros.

AI4MRI lab

Within the ROBUST programme, the LUMC, Leiden University and Philips will set up a new lab that will use AI to help speed up and improve MRI scans. The lab, which is called AI4MRI, is part of SAILS, which aims to consolidate AI research in Leiden. The lab will also focus on ways of producing good scans while patients are moving slightly. The Leiden research group of Professor Bram Klievink (Faculty of Governance and Global Affairs) will also use the lab to explore the effects of the new technology on the workplace. ‘This ICAI lab is a huge milestone for the SAILS programme, which brings together detailed knowledge from different faculties about humans and artificial intelligence,’ said Joost Batenburg, programme director of SAILS.

170 new PhD candidates

With the creation of ROBUST, the ICAI is expanding significantly. AI4MRI is one of 17 new labs that will be set up under the ROBUST umbrella and be part of the ICAI. This brings the total number of ICAI labs to 46. ROBUST will recruit an impressive 85 new PhD candidates in the coming year and another 85 in five years.

Maarten de Rijke, Professor of Artificial Intelligence and Information Retrieval at the UvA is the programme leader of ROBUST. ‘What is unique about ROBUST is that the labs will not only contribute to economic and technological goals but also to UN goals aimed at reducing poverty, inequality, injustice and climate change,’ De Rijke said. ‘An important goal of all the projects is to optimise reliable AI systems in terms of precision, reproduction, resilience, transparency and security.’

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