Barcelona hosts one of the new ELLIS units, the European network of excellence in AI

17 March 2023

BSC is one of the institutions present in the ELLIS Barcelona Unit, made up of 21 researchers from 10 universities and research centres in the Catalan knowledge system.

Barcelona will host one of the four new units of the European Laboratory for Learning and Intelligent Systems (ELLIS), the pan-European network of excellence in artificial intelligence. The new ELLIS Barcelona unit will be made up of 21 AI researchers from five Catalan universities and five research centres, including Natasa Przulj, a researcher in the Life Sciences Department at the Barcelona Supercomputing Center - Centro Nacional de Supercomputación (BSC -CNS).

The new unit will be the third largest of the 40 units that make up the network and is a confirmation of the high quality and impact of the research being carried out in Catalonia in the field of AI. The candidacy has been promoted by the Government of Catalonia, in coordination with the agents of the country's knowledge system, within the framework of the Artificial Intelligence Strategy of Catalonia (Catalonia.AI).

The 21 researchers that make up the ELLIS Barcelona research team come, apart from the BSC, from five other universities and four research centres in the Catalan knowledge system: the Universitat de Barcelona (UB), the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB), the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC), the Universitat Pompeu Fabra (UPF), the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC), the Computer Vision Center (CVC), the Institute of Robotics and Industrial Informatics (IRI/CSIC-UPC), the Artificial Intelligence Research Institute (IIIA-CSIC) and the Intelligent Data Science and Artificial Intelligence Research Center (IDEAI-UPC).

The ELLIS Barcelona unit will promote interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary research in AI, foster strong links with industry and train the next generation of outstanding talent in the field. It will focus on fundamental research in machine learning and related areas such as vision, robotics and natural language processing.

The Catalan Minister for Research and Universities, Joaquim Nadal i Farreras, described the opening of an ELLIS unit in Catalonia as a milestone "to establish Catalonia as a key node in the field of artificial intelligence research in Europe, a field of study with a direct impact on the welfare of citizens and the productivity of the productive fabric".

The ELLIS Catalan unit will be led by Carme Torras, PhD in Computer Science and head of the Perception and Manipulation research group at the Institute of Robotics and Industrial Informatics (CSIC-UPC). , Dr Torras is a mathematician specialising in robotics and artificial intelligence and has been awarded the 2020 National Research Prize for her research in AI and assistive robotics.

According to Carme Torras, "the ELLIS network is a privileged ecosystem for developing AI in a way that is ethically beneficial to humanity. The new ELLIS Barcelona unit is looking forward to joining forces and contributing to this goal.”