Creating a large Italian Artificial Intelligence ecosystem is the goal of the extended Future AI Research (FAIR) partnership, recently launched in Pisa at the headquarters of the National Research Council (CNR). The initiative is funded with over 114 million euros by the Ministry of University and Research (MUR) under Mission 4 of the National Recovery and Resilience Plan (NRRP).
As Marco Conti, president of the FAIR scientific and technical committee, explained, the aim is to “make Italy a global research and innovation hub, develop human-centred, reliable and sustainable Artificial Intelligence, nurture new talents in this research sector and retain them in Italy”.
There are currently 350 scientists involved from 25 project partners:
- 4 research centres: CNR, Fondazione Bruno Kessler, National Institute for Nuclear Physics (INFN) and Italian Institute of Technology (IIT);
- 14 universities: Polytechnic University of Milan, Polytechnic University of Turin, Sapienza University of Rome, Scuola Normale Superiore, SISSA, Bocconi University, Campus Bio-Medico University of Rome, University of Calabria, University of Bari, University of Bologna, University of Catania, University of Naples “Federico II”, University of Pisa and University of Trento;
- 7 companies: Bracco, Deloitte, Expert.ai, Intesa Sanpaolo, Leonardo, Lutech, and STMicroelectronics.
In addition to this initial group of participants, 150 temporary researchers and 100 PhD students will soon be recruited across the country. The partnership is also expected to expand: more than 100 companies have already expressed their interest in entering into the FAIR ecosystem, including 20 start-ups. It is estimated that some 300 companies will join in within the first 18 months, increasing to over 600 after three years, at the end of the project. Finally, public administrations have expressed their interest in being part of the FAIR ecosystem, including Regione Toscana, Regione Puglia, the National Cybersecurity Agency, Consob, Sogei and the National Health Institute.
The organizational structure is that of a diffuse network having a hub – i.e. a legal entity responsible for managing the entire partnership – and ten spokes, which coordinate the research activities. The hub is the FAIR Foundation based at the CNR Research Area in Pisa, while the spokes, divided by thematic areas, are located in the different Italian regions: five in the north – Turin, Milan, Trento, Genoa and Bologna – two in the centre – Pisa and Rome – and three in the south – Bari, Cosenza and Naples.