Industry-Sponsored Research Week

Amazon, Google, Intel, Accenture pony up $160M for NSF’s AI Institutes

By David Schwartz
Published: September 15th, 2020

Amazon, Google, Intel and Accenture are combining to contribute $160M in partnership dollar toward the next round of eight AI Research Institutes, which the National Science Foundation has scheduled for creation in late 2021.

The announcement marks the first time direct industry funding will be used for the AI institutes, which NSF has been rapidly ramping up. Previous AI institutes already created by NSF were either self-funded or funded in combination with other governmental partners, and industry support had been limited to researchers, materials, and other in-kind contributions.

“We’re partnering with industry to make available more resources to fund colleges and universities” to participate, said Erwin Gianchandani, the deputy assistant director for the NSF’s directorate for computer and information science and engineering (CISE) division. “We’re bringing industry in where it wasn’t there before.”

The Amazon, Google, Intel and Accenture funding will be used to add new AI institutes to the NSF’s growing list of AI initiatives.

“And it’s not just about the funding — industry is also providing motivation, some of the researchers, questions the student teams might pursue, and they are in some cases providing access to data sets, access to compute resources, and other tools and testbeds,” said Gianchandani. “They are providing students in some cases with access to industry, which can be a proving ground and pathway to industry down the road.”

Industry researchers working in the NSF Institutes can work side by side with college and university researchers and their students AI projects, he added.

The application deadline for the latest round of NSF AI institutes is Dec. 4, but the selection process will be conducted by NSF without industry participation, Gianchandani said. The NSF will continue to maintain total control over the institutes and the awards process as it has in the past, despite the new funding by industry, Gianchandani stressed. “We will make decisions and then hope to announce the awards next summer sometime,” he said.

The eight newly-announced NSF AI institutes that are accepting applications are:

  • Human-AI Interaction and Collaboration, with partial support provided by Amazon and Google;
  • AI Institute for Advances in Optimization, with partial support provided by Intel;
  • AI and Advanced Cyberinfrastructure; 
  •  Advances in AI and Computer and Network Systems; 
  •  AI Institute in Dynamic Systems;
  •  AI-Augmented Learning  with partial support provided by Accenture;
  • AI to Advance Biology;
  • AI-Driven Innovation in Agriculture and the Food Systems.

“We are hoping that by bringing together industry and colleges and government that we are catalyzing that connection for decades to come,” said Gianchandani. “Most people in the academic community are very receptive to this because of the benefits. We’re doing this on our terms, and industry is working with us because they see the value propositions.”

Source: HPC Wire

Posted under: University-Industry Engagement Week

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