New comprehensive ecosystem of qualified AI research

20 January 2022

A strong, sustainable and university-wide ecosystem in AI research, in leading research environments. That is the goal when the university board has now hammered through the strategy for the targeted effort in applied AI research.

Portrait of Vice-Chancellor Hans Adolfsson and Pro-Vice-Chancellor Katrine Riklund.

Umeå University is an increasingly strong international player in AI. The University is already one of five partner universities within WASP, Sweden’s single largest research program of all time, and coordinates WASP-HS, which invests in interdisciplinary humanities and social science research on the effects of AI. Umeå University also has several other centers, environments and projects in AI-related research that involve researchers from all faculties, and the University Board has decided that SEK 100 million will be invested in research in AI until 2029.

As part of this, the Vice-Chancellor has now decided on a strategic direction for the cross-faculty part of the initiative.

Strong base and sharp end

– We want to strengthen both AI competence and capacity broadly within the university and further profile ourselves with internationally prominent research environments within AI, says Katrine Riklund, chair of the Council for Artificial Intelligence, which has developed the strategic focus on the rector’s assignment. By building on the strong research environments that already exist and at the same time ensuring that new ones are built, Umeå University wants to make an active contribution to the development of society.

– Umeå University must take responsibility for meeting society’s needs for everything from concrete AI applications that can improve people’s lives to ways of understanding and managing AI so that it is developed and used in a responsible way. We also want to strengthen the educational environments with programs and courses that build the ability to understand and address various issues in a longer time perspective, says Katrine Riklund.

Ecosystem with the center as hub

The goal is to create a strong, sustainable and university-wide ecosystem that drives the development of knowledge in leading research environments and contributes to positive societal development. These include using the university’s full breadth and developing well-functioning structures for researchers and teachers to reach others to collaborate with and learn from.

As an overall framework for the initiative, a cross-faculty center is planned, which will function as a hub for both internal and international collaborations and create visibility.

– Through creative environments and interdisciplinary collaborations, we can address research issues and societal problems that are otherwise not possible. Gathering strength and visibility increase our opportunities to continue to attract researchers and partners from all over the world. In this way, we strengthen research and contribute to sustainable societal development, says Katrine Riklund.

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