Artificial Intelligence

Partnership joins forces on AI and quantum computing

27th November 2018
Alex Lynn

During the state visit of His Excellency Emmanuel Macron President of the French Republic, the Belgian research centre imec and the French research institute CEA-Leti, two research and innovation hubs in nanotechnologies for industry, announced that they have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) that lays the foundation of a strategic partnership in the domains of Artificial Intelligence and quantum computing.

AI and quantum computing are two key strategic value chains for European industry. The joint efforts of imec and CEA-Leti underline Europe’s ambition to take a leading role in the development of these technologies. The research centres’ increased collaboration will focus on developing, testing and experimenting neuromorphic and quantum computing, and should result in the delivery of a digital hardware computing toolbox that can be used by European industry partners to innovate in a wide variety of application domains, from personalised healthcare and smart mobility to the new manufacturing industry and smart energy sectors.

Edge Artificial Intelligence (eAI) commonly refers to computer systems that display intelligent behaviour locally on the hardware devices (such as chips). They analyse their environment and take the required actions to achieve specific goals. Edge AI is poised to become a key driver of economic development. And, even more importantly perhaps, it holds the promise of solving many societal challenges, from treating diseases that cannot yet be cured today, to minimising the environmental impact of farming.

Decentralisation from the cloud to the edge is a key challenge of AI technologies applied to large heterogeneous systems. This requires innovation in the components industry with powerful, energy-guzzling processors.

Luca Van den hove, President and CEO of imec, stated: “The ability to develop technologies such as AI and quantum computing – and put them into industrial use across a wide spectrum of applications – is one of Europe’s major challenges. Both quantum and neuromorphic computing (to enable artificial intelligence) are very promising areas of innovation, as they hold a huge industrialisation potential.

“A stronger collaboration in these domains between imec and CEA-LETI, two of Europe’s leading research centres, will undoubtedly help to speed up the technologies’ development time: it will provide us with the critical mass that is required to create more, and faster, impact, and will result in plenty of new business opportunities for our European industry partners.”

Emmanuel Sabonnadière, CEA-Leti CEO, added: “Two European microelectronics pioneers today are joining forces to raise the game in both high-performance computing and trusted AI at the edge, and ultimately to fuel European industry success through innovations in aeronautics, defence, automobiles, Industry 4.0 and health care.

“This collaboration with imec following earlier innovation-collaboration agreements with the Fraunhofer Group for Microelectronics of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, the largest organisation for applied research, will focus all three institutes to the task of keeping Europe at the forefront of new digital hardware for AI, HPC and Cyber-security applications.”

Imec and CEA-LETI are inviting partners from industry as well as academia to join them and benefit from access to the research centres’ technology with proven reproducibility, enabling a much higher degree of device complexity, reproducibility and material perfection while sharing the costs of precompetitive research.

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