April 18, 2024

Joint Focus Group AI event: Funding and business opportunities for AI innovators in Europe

As the AI Act has become the first comprehensive regulation on AI in the world, the European Commission launched the AI Innovation Package in January 2024, a new initiative that promotes the development of AI innovation in Europe.

The Joint Focus Group AI, organised by the EIT AI Community and DIGITAL SME Alliance, is hosting an invite-only virtual event with representatives of the European Commission to discuss the scope of the AI Innovation package and its advantages for AI SMEs and start-ups in Europe. Within the AI package measures, special attention will be dedicated to financial support as well as other initiatives available for SMEs and start-ups in the area of Generative AI.

Generative AI has taken the world by storm since 2023. In a matter of seconds, it can provide firms with in-depth analysis of company data, customised business plans, product and management ideas and promotional content. Firms have been quick to adapt, with more than a third of EU firms reported to have experimented with AI in 2023. This will be one of the key focal points of this event.

The Joint FG AI event will also address additional open calls on AI for SMEs, available under the Digital Europe Programme and will showcase use cases and uptake of Generative AI by SMEs.


Introduction and welcome by Joint Focus Group coordinators

  • Antonio Grasso, Public Affairs Director, European DIGITAL SME Alliance
  • Orestis Trasanidis, EIT AI Coordinator, EIT Digital


The AI Innovation Package: European Commission's plan to support AI SMEs and start-ups

  • Cecile Huet, Head of Unit, AI Innovation and Policy, DG CNECT, European Commission
    • AI Factories and access to AI computing powers by SMEs
    • 4 billion EUR financial support available under HE and DE dedicated to generative AI made in Europe 
    • GenAI4EUInitiative, which aims to develop and support novel cases and emerging applications in Europe´s 14 ecosystems


Info session on open calls under the Digital Europe programme

  • Loredana Bucseneanu, Project Manager, DIGITAL SME


EIT Digital Accelerator Programme

  • Orestis Trasanidis, EIT AI Coordinator, EIT Digital (TBC)


Use cases and uptake of Generative AI by SMEs in Europe


Open discussion with Focus Group AI members and concluding remarks

Would you like to attend this event? Become a member of the Focus Group AI today and get an opportunity to take part in this event.

October 25, 2023

AI2FUTURE panel explores crucial inquiries shaping AI ethics, law and society

On 20 October 2023, in Zagreb, the AI2FUTURE conference hosted a panel discussion titled 'Navigating the Regulatory Landscape: AI and Policy in the Digital Age'. The event brought together experts from diverse backgrounds to delve into the pivotal questions and decisions influencing the ethical, legal, and societal boundaries of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies.

Expert perspectives: Diverse panel weighs in on EU opportunities and challenges

Moderated by Marijana Sarolic Robic, a tech-savvy Attorney at Law, the panel featured a distinguished lineup of speakers:

  1. Igor Zgrabljic - MPA, Government Affairs & Public Policy Manager, Central and Eastern Europe, Google
  2. Milly Doolan - Managing Director at Euronavigator
  3. Orestis Trasanidis - AI and Silicon Valley Leader, EIT Community
  4. Hrvoje Bujanović - MBA, CFA, State Secretary, Republic of Croatia, Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development

Orestis Trasanidis who is also the Project Coordinator of the EIT AI Community brought a global perspective to the table. He explored the lessons that can be gleaned from the U.S. experience and applied to the European context.

Panel discussion at the event

AI enthusiasts converge in Zagreb for a dynamic discussion

The audience actively engaged with the panellists, posing questions that ranged from the ethical considerations of AI development to the practical challenges of implementing effective regulatory frameworks. The lively exchange of ideas underscored the importance of collaborative efforts in shaping the future of AI in a responsible and ethical manner, says Transanidis

July 20, 2023

Unlocking the power of AI skills in Europe

On 4 July 2023, in the heart of Brussels, together with the DigitalSME Alliance, the EIT AI Community converged to tackle a pressing issue at the forefront of Europe's technological evolution: the AI skills gap. As the world navigates the digital age, questions abound:

  • What is the current state of affairs in the AI skills job market? Understanding the present scenario is crucial to addressing the challenges and opportunities ahead.
  • How can start-ups and small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) equip themselves to bridge the AI skills gap effectively? Exploring practical solutions to empower businesses with the capabilities necessary for successful AI adoption.
  • What are the strategic, long-term steps that Europe can undertake to upskill and reskill its workforce, nurturing local ecosystems and propelling them to the forefront of AI innovation?

The rise of AI technology

The AI revolution has swept across the globe and the release of ChatGPT in late 2022 offered a glimpse into the advanced stage of AI technologies. In this context, start-ups and SMEs find themselves standing on the precipice of an emerging market, poised to introduce innovative solutions that can set them apart.

This unique opportunity not only provides ground for innovation but also has the potential to push Europe into a leadership position in the realm of cutting-edge and trustworthy AI.

However, the path to building AI systems requires the right people armed with the right skills. Europe faces a considerable shortage of digital skills and talent.

Panel discussion at the event

Joint Focus Group launch

Compounding the issue is the realisation that the growing demand for skilled AI employees far outpaces the capacity of current education and training programs. Europe urgently requires an innovative European AI strategy that not only embraces the latest trends and developments but also accelerates the upskilling and reskilling of the EU's workforce to meet the ever-increasing demand for AI expertise.

To confront these multifaceted challenges head-on, a diverse panel of speakers representing various stakeholders, including the European Union, academia, start-ups and SME communities, were brought together for insightful discussions.

The highlight of the event was the launch of the new Joint Focus Group AI, set to operate in collaboration with DigitalSME Alliance.

As the digital landscape continues to evolve, Europe is at a pivotal juncture. With collaborative efforts and strategic vision, we have the potential to not only bridge the AI skills gap but also lead the charge in shaping the future of AI innovation, propelling Europe to the forefront of the global AI revolution.