Nieke Roos
23 September 2021

The Robust long-term program is receiving 95 million euros for ten years to research reliable artificial intelligence. Coordinated by professor Maarten de Rijke from the University of Amsterdam and the Innovation Center for AI (ICAI), the project brings together 21 knowledge institutes, 23 companies and 10 societal organizations. It intends to add 17 labs to ICAI’s current ecosystem of 30 labs, in areas as diverse as energy, railway, high tech and healthcare. The collaboration is supported by the Dutch Research Council (NWO) and the Ained National Growth Fund Investment Program.

UvA Maarten de Rijke
The Robust program is headed by UvA professor and ICAI director Maarten de Rijke. Credit: UvA

“The challenges for developing robust AI are enormous,” comments De Rijke. “We focus on three areas: talent development, learning-by-doing and joint knowledge development between knowledge institutions, companies and societal parties.” First and foremost, Robust wants to attract talent to work on the challenges of trustworthy AI. Second, it aims to make trustworthy AI research and innovation a shared responsibility between knowledge institutes, industry, governmental organizations and other societal stakeholders. And third, it practices learning by doing through extensive knowledge sharing, use-inspired research and connections with Dutch startups and SMEs.

The granting of funding for the Robust project specifically represents a major boost for the AI ecosystem in Nijmegen. Healthcare is particularly well represented in the consortium, accounting for eight out of the 17 new AI labs. Radboudumc leads five of those eight, developing applications for lung diseases and pregnancy ultrasounds (together with spinoff Thirona), Parkinson’s disease (with Google subsidiary Verily), optical coherence tomography (with Abbott) and MRI (with Siemens Healthineers) for cardiovascular diseases and CT for lung cancer screening (with Mevis). A sixth lab will be set up at Radboud University, meaning that a third of the project will be based in Nijmegen.