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Europe’s best AI startups awarded in Brussels

AI startups

Faced with the emerging wave of growth experienced by AI, especially since the existence of generative AI a few months ago, many organisations have been plunged into the urgency and need to develop their services in order to remain competitive.

Almost 100 organisations submitted proposals for the AI awards organised by the European Commission, EuroHPC and AI-BOOST (a European project coordinated by Zabala Innovation). But only four startups specialised in AI could be awarded for their projects. The European Commissioner for the Internal Market, Thierry Breton, was the person in charge of awarding these prizes during an event held on 26 June in Brussels.

The winning organisations will share a total of 8 million computing hours on Finland’s LUMI and Italy’s LEONARDO supercomputers, as well as €1 million in EU funding.

The awarded companies were:

  • France’s Lingua Custodia, specialising in natural language processing for the financial sector.
  • Portugal’s Unbabel, which combines AI with human translation in the 24 official EU languages.
  • Latvia’s Tilde, focused on machine translation of Baloto-Slavic languages.
  • Belgium’s Textgain, dedicated to obtaining information from unstructured data through predictive text analysis and focused on hate speech.

EuroHPC JU allocated additional computing time to the MareNostrum 5 supercomputer, hosted at the Barcelona Supercomputing Centre. As a result, 800,000 computing hours will be allocated to the fifth-ranked proposal from Multiverse Computing, a quantum computing start-up focused on improving the energy efficiency and speed of large language models.

According to the European Commission, the computing time awarded on EU supercomputers over the next 12 months will reduce training times “from years to weeks”.

AI-BOOST and EU support for the promotion of AI

The European Commission has launched a set of measures to support startups and SMEs in promoting reliable AI. This initiative stems from the political agreement reached in December 2023 on the EU’s AI Law. In a note released late last month, Brussels noted that the “first step” was taken in November 2023 with the launch of the “AI Grand Challenge”. This initiative is led by the European AI-BOOST project, coordinated by Zabala Innovation in collaboration with EuroHPC.

AI-BOOST seeks to promote collaboration between key stakeholders in the AI community by defining compelling challenges that can generate reliable, human-centric solutions for the real world. To this end, the project is creating significant synergies with key AI associations in Europe.

The EC-driven package of measures addresses a number of crucial areas for the promotion of AI in Europe:

  • AI factories and access to supercomputers.
  • EU Office for AI and Communication.
  • Investments and promotion of innovation.
  • European Data Commons and GenAI4EU.
  • European Digital Infrastructure Consortia.

Next steps of the Project

Next steps include the review of the proposed amendments to the European High Performance Computing Joint Undertaking Regulation by the European Parliament and the Council. At the same time, the Office for Artificial Intelligence will be established, focusing on the implementation of the AI Act at EU level. In addition, Member States will form European infrastructure consortia ALT-EDIC and CitiVERSE EDIC, with the support of the Commission.

This approach builds on years of European cooperation to strengthen AI across the EU. From the White Paper on AI in 2020 to the provisional adoption of the AI Act in December 2023, the EU has outlined its vision of an ecosystem based on excellence and trust.