Artificial intelligence illustration
26 April 2019

AI: research institutes established in Grenoble, Nice, Paris and Toulouse

Artificial intelligence research institutes are launched in Grenoble, Nice, Paris and Toulouse.

In March 2018, the President of the Republic announced the country's national artificial intelligence strategy. One year on, Minister Frédérique Vidal and Minister of State Cédric O have announced the launch of four interdisciplinary artificial intelligence institutes (3IA). Their objective: to develop France's potential in the field of artificial intelligence (AI), a strategic technology for the country's future.

Structuring AI research within the territory

The four projects, which were short-listed at an earlier stage by a jury of international researchers, definitively obtained the 3IA label on Wednesday 24 April 2019. This labelling covers an initial period of four years.

Additionally, each institute has been given areas of specialisation:
  • MIAI@Grenoble-Alpes will focus on health, the environment and energy.
  • In Nice, 3IA Côte d’Azur will be looking at health and the development of the territories.
  • The PRAIRIE institute, based in Paris, will concentrate on health, transport and the environment.
  • The ANITI in Toulouse will cover issues relating to transport, the environment and health.
With funding of €75 million via the third component of the Investments for the Future Programme (PIA3), the institutes will also receive an equivalent amount of support from public and private partners. In total, €225 million will be spent on 3IA research projects.

“I expect the 3IAs to operate quickly as a network, at a national level with the support of INRIA, which coordinates the national research programme, with their German counterparts and, more broadly, with the best AI research institutions in the world”, said Frédérique Vidal.

The 3IAs, a first milestone in the global AI strategy

First presented in November 2018, the national AI research strategy has two objectives: firstly, to establish France as a global expert in artificial intelligence and secondly, to make the country a European leader in AI research.

This strategy is based around six main aims. Firstly, the implementation of a national programme supporting AI, led by the National Research Institute for Digital Sciences (INRIA). The aim: to develop the AI research ecosystem, in particular via the 3IA institutes.

Secondly, the launch of a programme to attract and support talent, researchers and doctoral students specialising in AI.  “We must retain and attract the best researchers in the world so that they can train our future researchers and sustain the French ecosystem”, explains Cédric O.

To achieve this, the National Research Agency (ANR) will soon be launching two calls for projects. The first concerns individual chairs for AI, while the second concerns doctoral programmes. Each call for projects will have a budget of €20 million.

The third aim of the strategy is to boost research into AI at the ANR. To do this, the public authorities plan to increase the Agency's funding by €100 million by 2022.

The strategy also seeks to strengthen France's computing means (in particular by installing one of the most powerful supercomputers in Europe). Finally, the last two aims involve bolstering the research of partner projects (LabCom programme, Carnot institutes, IRTs (Technological Research Institutes)) and bilateral, European and international AI cooperation.

AI for Humanity: France's vision of AI

The national AI research strategy stems from the AI for Humanity strategy. In September 2017, the Prime Minister, Édouard Philippe, entrusted the MP and mathematician, Cédric Villani, with an AI mission. The aim: to lay the foundations of an ambitious national AI strategy for France.

After the Villani report was submitted to the President of the Republic in March 2018, Emmanuel Macron presented France's major commitments in the field of AI. These three commitments provide a solid foundation for the development of AI in France:
  • Harness French talent, particularly via the national AI research programme;
  • Open up French databases in order to make best use of their data, within the framework of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR);
  • Lastly, establish an ethical framework for the development of AI, to ensure the transparency and reliability of algorithms.