Helmholtz to invest 11.4 million euros annually in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

Helmholtz sets up six units for Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to analyze complex data emerging in domains as diverse as climate and health research. Germany’s largest research organization has committed to invest 11.4 million euros each year in this long-term platform.

"Our society is undergoing far-reaching changes," says Otmar D. Wiestler, President of the Helmholtz Association. "Climate change, future mobility, and the possibilities offered by robotics present us all with enormous challenges." Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning are powerful tools with which to develop solutions for these significant and complex tasks. Helmholtz will therefore continue to expand its wide-ranging expertise in the field of AI in order to answer questions with social relevance. Furthermore, Helmholtz is working to advance research into and understanding of complex systems.

"With this in mind, Helmholtz has created an interdisciplinary structure in which expertise in AI and Machine Learning can be shared, expanded, and raised to a new level through cooperation between research fields," continues Wiestler. The initiative will be implemented across Germany by means of a Helmholtz platform for Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning.

With the Helmholtz Artificial Intelligence Cooperation Unit (HAICU), Helmholtz builds a future-oriented network for applied Artificial Intelligence. HAICU will develop, implement, and disseminate methods of Artificial Intelligence for purposes including the analysis of complex systems in the fields of energy, transport, climate, and health. Germany’s largest research organization has committed to make 11.4 million euros a year available for this long-term platform. HAICU will consist of an internationally visible, central unit (HAICU central) and five units at further Helmholtz Centers (HAICU local) that focus on specific research fields. The local units and central unit were chosen by a distinguished international panel in a competitive, science-driven process.

Helmholtz Zentrum München to host HAICU central

From now on, HAICU’s central unit is located at the Helmholtz Zentrum München – German Research Center for Environmental Health (HMGU) and comprises several research groups and one scientific support team. "The researchers in Munich have been committed to the development of HAICU from the start. Outstanding achievements in the field of applied AI and Machine Learning qualify the Helmholtz Zentrum München for its central role in the network," says Wiestler. The HMGU is the leading center for Machine Learning with regards to health research and bioinformatics; it is also at the forefront of research in the fields of biology, biomedicine, and digital health. The Munich-based scientists have been involved in the development, expansion, and application of AI techniques for over ten years. In addition, they engage with the interdisciplinary aspects of AI that are relevant to the whole Helmholtz Association. HAICU central will also assume a coordinating role in the network and offer general scientific support to the other centers. Strong partners in the Munich area, such as the German Aerospace Center (DLR) located in Oberpfaffenhofen and the Technical University of Munich (TUM), constitute a fertile environment for pioneering, top-level research.

Other Helmholtz Centers have been selected as hosts for the five local HAICU units. All six Research Fields of Helmholtz are represented: each local unit will comprise a fully equipped junior research group and a support team. The units will conduct research consistent with Helmholtz-relevant applications, specify techniques for use in the association’s research domains, and cooperate closely with the entire HAICU network.

The five local HAICU units are established at the following Helmholtz Centers:

  • Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)

The KIT is the research university in the Helmholtz Association and Germany’s largest center for energy research. The KIT also conducts leading research into AI and its applications. This makes the KIT ideally suited for the implementation of HAICU local in the Research Field Energy.

  • Forschungszentrum Jülich (FZ Jülich)

As one of the largest Helmholtz Centers, the FZ Jülich encompasses a remarkable range of scientific disciplines including Key Technologies/Information, for which the FZ Jülich has been chosen to host HAICU local.

  • Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht Centre for Material and Coastal Research (HZG)

The panel of experts has selected the HZG as the home of HAICU local for the Research Field Earth and Environment. The unit will drive forward research into the earth system and climate change with the help of AI.

  • Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR)

The HZDR has prevailed as the host lab for HAICU local for the Research Field Matter. In Dresden, studies are performed in areas such as photon research, plasma physics, and materials science with the support of AI and Machine Learning.

  • German Aerospace Center (DLR)

AI has particular potential when it comes to earth observation and robotics but also for other research questions such as autonomous driving in the Research Field Aeronautics, Space and Transport. HAICU local for this research field will be located at the Oberpfaffenhofen location of the German Aerospace Center (DLR), near Munich.

HAICU will significantly advance the Helmholtz Association in the field of applied AI by helping to network and support scientists at all Helmholtz Centers—and thus produce transdisciplinary and disruptive research findings.

With HAICU, Helmholtz seeks to become an international leader in applied AI by combining AI with unique research questions and data sets. HAICU will develop and implement new AI techniques that are motivated by practical research questions and employ them in applications across multiple Helmholtz Centers. HAICU will also make AI methods suitable for use by researchers in the different centers, disseminate new ways of harnessing this technology, and realize synergies between applications beyond the institutional boundaries.

The Helmholtz-wide AI network is also supported by a specific funding line for scientific projects of various sizes. This is complemented by an international visitor program and globally prominent workshops.

The Helmholtz Incubator for Information & Data Science

The Helmholtz Artificial Intelligence Cooperation Unit (HAICU) is one of the new platforms that together form the Helmholtz Information & Data Science Framework. These newly established platforms are initiated by the Helmholtz Incubator for Information & Data Science and will receive total annual investment of 35 million euros from Helmholtz. Each one is based at one or more Helmholtz Centers where they are building an active network. Helmholtz is currently developing the platforms and thereby offering a variety of opportunities for interaction with other research organizations and universities.

The new platforms also include the Helmholtz Information & Data Science Academy (HIDA) with its regional Helmholtz Information & Data Science Schools (HIDSS), which work in the field of education and training. The Helmholtz Infrastructure for Federated ICT Services (HIFIS), which is concerned with basic technologies and fundamental services for major data-driven projects, the Helmholtz Imaging Platform (HIP), and the Helmholtz Metadata Collaboration Platform (HMC) are among the platforms.

The platforms are a result of the Helmholtz Incubator for Information & Data Science. This long-term, Association-wide, bottom-up process began in 2016 with the aim of bringing together the Helmholtz Association’s wide-ranging expertise in the field of Information & Data Science.

Helmholtz contributes to solving major challenges facing society, science, and the economy through top-level scientific achievements in six Research Fields: Energy, Earth and Environment, Health, Key Technologies, Matter, and Aeronautics, Space and Transport. With more than 40,000 employees at 19 Research Centers and an annual budget of around 4.7 billion euros, Helmholtz is the largest scientific organization in Germany. Its work is rooted in the tradition of the great natural scientist Hermann von Helmholtz (1821-1894).



April 05, 2019


Back to List

Print Version


Subscribe to feed

Press Releases