KI-Allianz BW: Starting signal for the development of an AI data platform for regional businesses
Under the leadership of Fraunhofer IOSB, the "Data Platforms" subproject of the Baden-Württemberg KI-Allianz (AI alliance) will lay the technical and organizational foundation for companies and startups to easily gain access to the data and AI models of others. - with the aim of establishing a market for data that promotes the development and application of innovative AI solutions. The formal grant notifications for this first sub-project of the KI-Allianz BW - totaling 5.1 million euros - were handed over to the nine participating institutions in Stuttgart on July 20, 2023.
The following text is based on the press release of the Ministry of Economics, but has been translated and supplemented by the quote of Thomas Usländer:
"Artificial intelligence (AI) is only as good as the data it is fed with. Often, our SMEs in particular lack a high-quality data basis to try out or develop AI solutions themselves. This is where the 'KI-Allianz Baden-Württemberg' comes in and provides companies throughout the state with precisely tailored data," said Dr. Nicole Hoffmeister-Kraut, Minister of Economics, Labor and Tourism, on the occasion of today's (July 20) handover of nine funding notifications to representatives of KI-Allianz Baden-Württemberg e.G. (KI-Allianz BW). In total, the funding comprises around 5.1 million euros.
"Data Platforms" project led by Fraunhofer IOSB
In the course of promoting KI-Allianz BW, AI innovation clusters are being established, developed and networked in various cities and regions of the state. They are intended to further develop the potential of AI in the Baden-Württemberg area. The state funds now available will be used to establish a comprehensive data platform. The data will be collected thematically by local experts and processed in such a way that businesses throughout the state can access it. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and startups in particular are to be given easy access to high-quality data sets, which are essential in the development and application of AI solutions. Further projects of the KI-Allianz BW together with the partners are to follow.
Networking AI expertise from the regions is essential for the successful development of an AI ecosystem in Baden-Württemberg. However, in order to be able to systematically develop and operate AI applications, business, public authorities and science also need a reliable data basis with clear rules for data access and use. That is why we are focusing on open standards and technologies for data spaces in the Data Platforms project.Project Manager Dr. Thomas Usländer, Fraunhofer IOSB
The project to set up the comprehensive data platform is being led by Dr. Thomas Usländer, Head of the Information Management and Production Control Department at the Fraunhofer Institute of Optronics, System Technologies and Image Exploitation IOSB in Karlsruhe. He emphasized the importance of open standards and technologies for data rooms during the award ceremony. For Baden-Württemberg, he said, these now need to be developed regionally and specifically for various industries in order to create a reliable data basis with clear rules for data access and data use.
"For SMEs, the lack of an AI data base is a major hurdle"
Based on the monitoring report Wirtschaft DIGITAL Baden-Württemberg 2023, published on June 22, 40 percent of companies in Baden-Württemberg plan to use AI solutions by 2033. "This potential must be leveraged and even increased in all parts of the state," said Hoffmeister-Kraut, praising in particular the alliance's cross-regional approach. So far, representatives from Freiburg, Karlsruhe, Neckar-Alb, the northern Black Forest, the Ostalbkreis district and Stuttgart have joined it. Cooperation is a declared goal.
Dr. Walter Rogg, Managing Director of Wirtschaftsförderung Region Stuttgart GmbH (WRS) and board member of the KI-Allianz, says: "We would like to thank Economics Minister Dr. Nicole Hoffmeister-Kraut for supporting our idea of bringing together the top-class AI competencies of the six regions and making them visible as the KI-Allianz Baden-Württemberg. The state funding for our projects, first and foremost the data platforms, is a crucial step in consolidating our collaboration."
David Hermanns, Managing Director of the Digital Innovation Center GmbH and board member of the KI-Allianz, says: "The fact that with the cross-industry data platforms a first central project is now being funded within the framework of the KI-Allianz is of particular importance for the economy. For SMEs in particular, the current lack of an AI database is a major hurdle. With the data platforms, a low-threshold access is created that enables a rapid development of the high economic potential of the future technology AI."
Information on the funded institutions:
Specifically, the approximately 5.1 million euros will be allocated to nine partner institutions, which will contribute their expertise to the development of the data platform in a synergy-driven manner:
- Aalen University is researching the fundamentals of high-quality data, advising project partners on measures to improve data quality, and is being funded with 900,000 euros.
- The Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft is responsible for the project management as well as a significant part of the implementation effort and is funded with a total of about 1.15 million euros, split between Fraunhofer IOSB, Karlsruhe (675,847 euros) and Fraunhofer IPA, Stuttgart (474,963 euros).
- The FZI Research Center for Information Technology will receive funding of 725,980 euros, in particular for the establishment of the governance ecosystem and in the search for suitable data sets.
- The University of Stuttgart - High Performance Computing Center (HLRS) evaluates the data platform with regard to the potential for improvement and receives funding in the amount of 326,060 euros.
- The Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) will take over the management of the data platform for mobility data and will receive funding in the amount of 487,017 euros.
- The city of Freiburg is pushing ahead with the opening of the regional municipal data room and will receive state funding of 785,120 euros.
- The expertise for the medical data platform is contributed by the University Medical Center Freiburg (UKF) and receives funding of 614,000 euros.
- The University of Tübingen will receive funding of 128,473 euros for evaluating and advising the project with regard to data ethics and innovation in the sense of human-centered development.
Information on regional AI centers of excellence:
The state of Baden-Württemberg is providing up to 15 million euros for the establishment of regional AI centers of excellence at the sites in Stuttgart, Karlsruhe, Neckar-Alb, Freiburg, Ostalbkreis and Ulm, as well as cooperative measures with the northern Black Forest.
The regional AI centers of excellence claim to be the point of contact for companies, start-ups, consulting institutions and science. They support the state's companies, especially small and medium-sized enterprises, along the entire AI innovation chain, from basic research to market-ready applications. The regional and supra-regional projects work to diversify the economy in the region and the state in a targeted manner and to tap new growth potential. In this way, they make a significant contribution to expanding the AI ecosystem in order to sustainably secure Baden-Württemberg as a site for AI value creation.
About the KI-Allianz BW:
The KI-Allianz Baden-Württemberg is a cooperative consisting of partners from business, science and administration in the regions of Stuttgart, Karlsruhe, Neckar-Alb, Freiburg, Nordschwarzwald and the Ostalbkreis and follows the approach "Several sites - one concept". Thus, regionally distributed strong industry-focused hubs are to be created in which AI activities from business and science are linked. For companies in the state, especially from the SME sector, the entire AI innovation chain as well as the value chain from basic research to industrial application or the product can thus be easily grasped and experienced locally. In real contact points and experimentation rooms, the competencies and value chains of all alliance partners become accessible and available to customers. The goal is to establish a cross-location service portfolio along the entire AI innovation chain, from qualification to knowledge and technology transfer to application and commercialization. The KI-Allianz Baden-Württemberg is also open to other interested partners from municipalities and regions, business and science.