AI, EU competition for start-ups has four winners

June 2024
By Editorial Staff

The European Union announced the winners of the Large AI Grand Challenge competition, which made 1 billion euros available for four artificial intelligence start-ups. There were 94 participants, and the winners are: France’s Lingua Custodia, specialising in natural language processing applied to finance; Portugal’s Unbabel, providing support for multilingual translation of European idioms; Estonia’s Tilde, focusing on chatbots in Slavic languages; and Belgium’s Textgain, an expert in hate speech analysis applied to predictive text analysis. In addition to the prize money, the EU has provided the four start-ups with the Lumi and Leonardo supercomputers for a total of 8 million computing hours to be used over the next 12 months.

The supercomputers will be used to develop innovative large-scale AI models within 12 months of the awarding of the prize. The winners will then have to publish the developed models under an open source licence for non-commercial use or publish the results of their research. The Large AI grand challenge was organised by the EU-funded AI-Boost project and is part of the EU’s efforts to stimulate excellence in the field.

All these initiatives underline the broad innovation and strategic focus within the development of AI in Europe, addressing a wide spectrum of areas from language inclusion to societal challenges and efficiency in different sectors. The project started in November 2023 and is now arriving at the response.

In addition to this competition organised by the Commission, and in view of the enormous success of the initiative, the EuroHPC (European High Performance Computing Joint Venture) Joint Venture has provided additional computing time to the MareNostrum 5 supercomputer hosted by the Barcelona Supercomputing Centre. As a result, 800,000 computing hours will be allocated to the fifth ranked proposal of Multiverse Computing, a quantum computing start-up focused on improving the energy efficiency and speed of large language models,’ the EuroHPC press release explained.

‘In order to provide Europe with a world-leading supercomputing infrastructure, the EuroHPC joint venture has already procured nine supercomputers, located throughout Europe. Regardless of where they are located in Europe, European scientists and users from the public sector and industry can benefit from these EuroHPC supercomputers through EuroHPC Access calls to advance science and support the development of a wide range of applications with industrial, scientific and societal relevance for Europe’.

‘In particular, the call for access to data-intensive and artificial intelligence applications is intended to serve small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and start-ups, which require access to supercomputing resources to perform data-intensive and artificial intelligence activities. Recently revised through Council Regulation (EU) 2024/1732, the EuroHPC joint venture received a new mandate to develop and operate artificial intelligence factories. These open and comprehensive AI ecosystems centred on EuroHPC supercomputing facilities will support the growth of a highly competitive and innovative AI ecosystem in Europe’.