EuroHPC Expands Objectives to Include AI Factories for Boosting EU’s AI Ecosystem

May 24, 2024

May 24, 2024 — The Council of the European Union has reached a political agreement on a regulation to expand the objectives of the European High Performing Computer Joint Undertaking (EuroHPC), aimed at boosting Europe’s leadership in artificial intelligence (AI).

Credit: Shutterstock

The regulation adds an additional objective for the Joint Undertaking: to develop and operate AI Factories in support of an artificial intelligence ecosystem in the Union. AI Factories will be entities that provide AI super-computing service infrastructure. The regulation will also make the Union’s supercomputing capacity further available to innovative AI European startups to train their models.

“Unity is the strength of Europe, and together we have achieved great goals,” said Willy Borsus, Vice-President of Wallonia, Minister for Economy, Research and Innovation, Digital, Agriculture, Urban Planning and Spatial Planning. “We have seen this with the development of our world-class super-computers, and now we want to boost the outcomes of these powerful machines through a trustworthy AI. The main objectives of our political agreement are to launch our artificial intelligence start-ups into the first division of this crucial technology’, support a highly competitive and innovative AI ecosystem and strengthen the EU’s technological autonomy.”

Commission Proposal

The amendment proposed by the Commission broadens the scope of the regulation that set the objectives of the EuroHPC Joint Undertaking, a structure created in 2018 to lead the way in European supercomputing. Currently, the EuroHPC JU has procured nine super-computers, located across Europe.

The Commission proposal builds on the work of the existing joint undertaking by including AI Factories. These entities should provide AI super-computing services with an infrastructure consisting, among other things, of an AI-super-computer, an associated data centre, and AI-oriented super-computing services, which will be made available to innovative AI European startups to train their models.

Council Political Agreement

The Council supports the main objectives of the proposal but introduces several amendments.

In particular, the Council agreement ensures that the activities covered by the AI Factories provide fair access opportunities to the AI-optimised supercomputers, opening them up to a larger number of public and private users.

The regulation explicitly mentions start-ups and small and medium-sized enterprises as possible beneficiaries of the AI-super-computers. They will be able to use the one-stop-shop that each hosting entity creates to facilitate access to its support services. The Council position calls on the EuroHPC Governing Board to define special access conditions for the AI-super-computers, including dedicated access to start-ups and SMEs.

Following the political agreement reached today, hosting entities can receive a Union financial contribution that covers up to 50% of the acquisition costs of AI-super-computers and up to 50% of their operating costs (including AI-oriented super-computing service costs). The ownership of the AI-optimised supercomputers can be transferred to the hosting entities five years after the machine has passed an acceptance test.

Finally, the regulation states that the AI-super-computers should primarily be used to develop, test, evaluate and validate large-scale, general-purpose AI training models and emerging AI applications, and to further develop AI solutions in the Union.

Next Steps

This is a Council regulation. It will be published in the Official Journal after legal review. This regulation will enter into force on the twentieth day following that of its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union.

Background

The EuroHPC Joint Undertaking coordinates the efforts of its members to make Europe a world leader in super-computing. The main objectives of EuroHPC Joint Undertaking are to develop, deploy, extend and maintain the EU super-computing, quantum computing and data infrastructure ecosystem; support the development of super-computing systems components, technologies and knowledge; widen the use of that super-computing infrastructure; and support the development of key HPC skills for European science and industry.

On January 24, 2024, the Commission proposed a regulation to amend the current legal framework (the 2018 Council Regulation (EU) 2021/1173) to introduce a further objective for the Joint Undertaking: supporting the development of an AI ecosystem in the Union by developing and operating AI Factories.

The proposed amendment is part of the AI initiative of the Union, announced by Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in her 2023 State of the Union address.


Source: The Council of the EU

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