School of Informatics


Edinburgh joins ELLIS, European AI collaboration

Edinburgh is joining the European Laboratory for Learning and Intelligent Systems (ELLIS) – a pan-European Artificial Intelligence collaboration.

Initiated in 2018, ELLIS initially brought together 17 units from leading European institutions. 13 more, among them the Edinburgh unit, join the collaboration on 15th September.  The University’s ELLIS unit will be led by Professor Chris Williams from the School of Informatics.

Spanning 14 European countries, the ELLIS network includes several world-class institutions aside from Edinburgh: Cambridge University, the Italian Institute of Technology, Sorbonne Center for Artificial Intelligence, and ETH Zürich. The ELLIS units will make a decisive contribution to securing Europe’s leadership in the research field of modern AI. 

Edinburgh has a long tradition of work in Artificial Intelligence (AI), going back to the 1960s when it was one of the few centres in the world working on AI. The School of Informatics currently has great strength across a wide range of AI areas. The goals of the ELLIS unit at Edinburgh are to carry out world-class research in AI, to train top international students and postdocs, and to generate positive impact in science and society.  We look forward to collaborating with other ELLIS units in strengthening AI in Europe, and advancing research in machine learning and data-driven AI.

Professor Chris WilliamsDirector, Edinburgh ELLIS Unit

The newest ELLIS units were celebrated on Tuesday, 15th September at a virtual ceremony.

Today, we celebrate the momentum that the ELLIS initiative has gained since it was founded just two years ago. Since the first 17 units were announced at the end of 2019, we’ve added 13 more to the network. With their combined strengths, the units will contribute to enabling Europe to compete with the world’s AI hotspots, particularly the US and China. Together, the units are creating new opportunities for collaboration with scientists across Europe, and a strong foundation for developing AI that is in line with the values of open European societies.

Professor Bernhard SchölkopfCo-founder of ELLIS and Director of the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Tübingen, Germany

ELLIS is a pan-European effort initiated in 2018. Its central goal is to foster European research excellence in machine learning and related fields by offering scientists outstanding opportunities to carry out their research in Europe, and to train the next generation of young European researchers in this field of strategic importance. It focuses particularly on tackling fundamental research challenges in the field of AI that promote positive economic and societal impacts. At present, research topics within the ELLIS network include fundamental machine learning, computer vision, natural language processing, robotics, human-centric and trustworthy AI, and areas of application such as environmental modeling, autonomous systems design, biology, and health.

The ELLIS units were selected on the basis of scientific excellence by a committee of leading scientists from several different countries. In total, they have committed funding of some 300 million euros for an initial period of five years. Twenty percent of this sum will go toward ELLIS network activities such as student and faculty exchanges and the organization of joint ELLIS research programs and workshops. 

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