AI and Data: 25 proposals for a European strategy!

The unprecedented Covid-19 crisis has highlighted the strategic importance of artificial intelligence technologies and data sharing between companies. Numerous AI-based initiatives have emerged and allowed for solutions to be implemented in record time, including treatment research, epidemic forecasting, and diagnosis from X-rays of lungs. The urgent need to quickly collect and share available research data has resulted in a number of unprecedented partnerships, in particular between hospitals and startups, private companies, and public authorities. But the crisis is also underscoring the obstacles faced by Europe when trying to compete with the two tech giants, i.e. China and the United States.

Everyone we spoke to when drafting our proposals came to the same conclusion: supporting innovation and the development of AI while regulating the associated risks is like walking a tightrope. As far as data is concerned, startups will be the first to benefit from improved access, sharing, and conditions of use. The challenge is clear: we must ensure the technological sovereignty of Europe while allowing for tech champions to emerge on the continent.

That's why France Digitale has proposed 25 recommendations for supporting and structuring the development of AI, and in particular:

1. Build an exceptional ecosystem…during a crisis

  • Increase funding for innovative startups
  • Strengthen partnerships between startups and the public and private sectors
  • Address the AI talent shortage by creating a European digital education action plan

2. Develop a reliable AI ecosystem

  • Facilitate AI testing
  • In collaboration with startups, specify the uses of AI that are considered “high-risk”
  • Promote “green” AI to help with the ecological transition

3. Develop a Europe-wide data strategy

  • Improve data governance
  • Harmonize and improve access to data
  • Encourage free competition and innovation among startups in the cloud by preventing lock-in effects

AI and data-driven startups will have to learn the lessons of a world where funding has become scarce and the ethics of their solutions will be scrutinized. It is therefore vital that AI companies contribute to the discussions initiated by the European Commission to ensure the upcoming regulatory framework will be relevant to startups, including in times as exceptional as the present.