A north German research association including Hamburg is laying plans for an artificial intelligence competence centre in medicine, a press release said Thursday (August 15, 2019). The consortium is competing in the “Artificial intelligence as a driver of economically-important ecosystems” contest, organised by the German Ministry of Economics and Energy (BMWi), to secure long-term funding for the project. The AI Space for Intelligent Health Systems (KI-SIGS) and the corresponding funding application were presented by the universities of Hamburg, Lübeck, Kiel and Bremen and German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI) backed by the respective state governments in mid August 2019. A total of EUR 10 million will be put towards the three-year project. The consortium consists of four universities, two research institutions, 12 companies and two hospitals including the University Hospital Hamburg-Eppendorf (UKE).
Interface between research and commerce
“We want to find viable answers to the question of how artificial intelligence can improve health technology,” said Dr. Eva Gümbel, State Councillor for Science, Research and Equality. The artificial intelligence competence centre will act as an interface between research and industry. The growing digitalization in the healthcare sector, medicine and medical technology is driving up the number of complex data sets. These in turn hold great potential for intelligent healthcare systems and adaptive, self-learning AI technologies. The competence centre aims to provide a platform for exchanging know-how and technical resources including nine collaborative projects focusing on adaptive medical systems, robotic learning assistance systems and smart living home assistants.
University of Hamburg and UKE to become key players
Last month, the University of Hamburg was awarded the status of “excellent university” and is represented by the Faculty of Computer Science and the UKE in several parts of the KI-SIGS project. Emphasis will be on research and the development of intelligent assistance systems, according to Prof. Frank Steinicke, who conducts research into Human-Computer Interaction in the Faculty of Computer Science at the University of Hamburg. New types of intelligent robots and virtual agents for rehabilitation will be developed and tested with therapists and patients. “Data protection, data security and privacy, which are particularly important for sensitive medical data, are on the agenda,” he added.
Long tradition of AI research in Hamburg
Research into artificial intelligence (AI) and cognitive systems is closely linked to Hamburg as a scientific location. One of Germany’s first laboratories for artificial intelligence was founded in 1987 at the Faculty of Computer Science at the University of Hamburg. AI and cognitive systems are key fields of research at the University of Hamburg, the Hamburg University of Technology (TUHH) and the Hamburg University of Applied Sciences (HAW). These include, for instance, Crossmodal learning on Machine Learning funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG).
Active start-up ecosystem
The founders of Apoqlar are working on a programme that converts CT and MRI scans into a 3D model that can be projected onto a patient using a mixed reality headset. Another Hamburg-based company Synergeticon specializes in software solutions in digital assistance systems, collaborative robotics and AI. Read more about these in our AI Series.