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BIFOLD, a new AI Lighthouse, receives millions in funding from the German Federal Government and the State of Berlin
- © TU Berlin / Felix Noak
The 2020s are the decade of education, research and innovation, announced the German Federal Minister of Education and Research (BMBF) Anja Karliczek on Wednesday, the 15th of January 2020, during a press conference for the newly established Berlin Institute for the Foundations of Learning and Data (BIFOLD), a new national competence center. In order to strengthen the fields of artificial intelligence, BIFOLD will receive 32 million euros in funding from the German Federal Government between 2019 and 2022.
Furthermore, to fund top-level research, the State of Berlin awarded BIFOLD additional financial support. The Governing Mayor Michael Müller described Berlin as a city of opportunities and also a city that leverages opportunities. Thus, Berlin has earmarked 3.5 million euros for the establishment of eight new AI professorships. The governing mayor declared: “Berlin can significantly advance research on artificial intelligence in Germany. BIFOLD is now the next big step in this direction. To this end, we are establishing additional professorships and will also make greater use of the existing synergies in Berlin's AI research.”
Synergies are an important keyword for BIFOLD because the institute is the result of a very successful cooperation between two national competence centers, which have been working together for years and are now merging into BIFOLD. One is the Berlin Big Data Center (BBDC) headed by Prof. Dr. Volker Markl and the other is the Berlin Center for Machine Learning (BZML) headed by Prof. Dr. Klaus-Robert Müller. Both centers were already located at the Technische Universität Berlin (TUB) and will in the future be closely interlinked on the TUB campus under a common roof to promote research, training and innovation.
“We do not want to consider the facets of AI technologies individually,” because “Machine Learning and Big Data Management are mutually dependent on one another,” emphasized Prof. Dr. Volker Markl, one of the directors of BIFOLD. It is important for AI to jointly combine the expertise arising in the fields of big data and machine learning and conduct research at the interface. Prof. Dr. Klaus-Robert Müller, also a director of BIFOLD, emphasized the unique combination of disciplines in the new research center and stressed that other scientific fields, such as medicine, physics, chemistry and biology will likewise be involved.
BIFOLD will play an important role in training a new generation of AI researchers by creating an integrated graduate school. How crucial this is can be seen from the international race for the leading minds in AI, but also from the great interest of our students: Prof. Klaus-Robert Müller reported how his Machine Learning course now receives over 600 registrations instead of 50.
Education Minister Anja Karliczek also highlighted that excellent research is needed to make Germany a top location for AI. “The merger of the two Berlin AI competence centers into BIFOLD is a milestone in the implementation of the German National AI Strategy.” The tour in the (Forum Digital Technologies) showroom with technical demonstrators illustrates how much work is yet to be done in this field. While the 55-year-old Governing Mayor Michael Müller was very pleased to be found to be 28 years of age by a facial recognition system, it is evident that funding in the area of artificial intelligence and big data can still be used promisingly.
For more information please also see the joint official press release  of BMBF and TU Berlin.
> Visit the website of BIFOLD