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Europe’s first technopole stands out to host the Interdisciplinary Institute of Artificial Intelligence (3IA)

The academic players in the Nice–Sophia Antipolis region have prepared a proposal for the Interdisciplinary Institute of Artificial Intelligence (3IA), initiated by the Université Côte d’Azur, the CNRS, and Inria. This project responds to the first call for proposals of the plan on artificial intelligence launched by French president Emmanuel Macron at the end of March after the mathematician Cédric Villani’s report on the topic.


Publication : 06/09/2018
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Together with Paris and Grenoble, the Côte d’Azur is a French academic metropolis with one of the country’s largest scientific concentrations in digital sciences and mathematics. It is also home to Europe’s oldest and most important technopole, where close to 60% of the 36,000 employees from 60 different countries are focused on digital technologies.

It is for this dual reason that the academic players in Nice/Sophia Antipolis have prepared a proposal for the Interdisciplinary Institute of Artificial Intelligence (3IA), initiated by the Université Côte d’Azur (UCA), the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), and the French Institute for Research in Computer Science and Automation (Inria). This project responds to the first call for proposals of the plan on artificial intelligence launched by French president Emmanuel Macron at the end of March following the mathematician Cédric Villani’s report on the topic.

The 3IA is organized around professorships held by internationally renowned researchers and fits with the goal of transdisciplinary research at the Université Côte d’Azur and its UCAJEDI excellence initiative (IDEX). Both the UCA and UCAJEDI are major components of the region’s strategy and benefit from significant support from the economic and industrial ecosystem, whose high-technology activities have become ascendant and profoundly transformed the Côte d’Azur’s appeal.

Uniting the main members of the Université Côte d’Azur in artificial intelligence like the CNRS, Eurecom, Inria, and Mines ParisTech, the 3IA will bring together more than a hundred researchers and faculty members, who are specialists in the field, around the three missions of education, research, and knowledge transfer to companies. The UCA benefits from many assets like the Digital Systems for Humans Graduate School of Research (EUR), which constitutes the only nationally recognized French graduate school focused on digital sciences.

The UCA already offers high-level educational programs on artificial intelligence both for initial training (Bachelor’s and Master’s in computer science and mathematics, MSc in Data Sciences, engineering curricula, and the EIT Digital European network) and continuing education (Deep Learning summer school). The 3IA will train specialists from bachelor’s to doctoral levels to take leading role in the looming worldwide competition in artificial intelligence. Furthermore, the goal is to enable companies in the region to be competitive in related domains, especially for those firms with which the UCA has already developed structural partnerships, such as that with Amadeus, a world leader in e-tourism, for continuing education needed for its 5000 engineers.

Research partnerships between academic players on the Côte d’Azur and companies are growing strongly (Amadeus, Accenture, Bosch, IBM, Qwant, NXP, Renault Software Labs, etc.), and the goal is to attain a new level as a result of common laboratories. Furthermore, the creation of start-ups as a result of the research activities will be a focus and developed in partnership not only with French Tech Côte d’Azur and the AI Cluster but also Telecom Valley, Sophia Club Entreprises, Nice Start-up, and competitiveness clusters, especially the Secured Communicating Solutions Cluster. For example, there is the start-up Therapixel from Inria, which has won several prizes, including the prestigious Digital Mammography Challenge for breast cancer screening this past June, as well as the start-up Cintoo from the CNRS and UCA, which raised €1.8 million in 2017 and specializes in virtual and augmented reality.

The Université Côte d’Azur has a collaboration with Accenture for the development of the latter’s administration using artificial intelligence and is also launching the project Deep Law for Technology (DL4T) on the links between law, economics, and innovation. This project is part of the strengthened partnership with the Université de Laval (Canada) on the observatory of the impacts of artificial intelligence and digital technologies.

The Côte d’Azur is an extremely dynamic region with numerous public and private initiatives like the Smart Vehicle Côte d’Azur cluster initiated by IBM, Renault Software labs, Magnetti Marelli, NXP, and Epicnpoc. The cluster brings together approximately a hundred researchers and engineers every month to coordinate the emergence of the development of embedded electronics in Nice/Sophia Antipolis by the world’s leading car manufacturers. The region also organizes large events on artificial intelligence. From 7–9 November 2018, Sophia Antipolis will host outstanding specialists on artificial intelligence – the Soph.I.A Summit – for researchers, companies, the general public, economic partners, and students.

www.inria.fr/centre/sophia