Joint press release of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, the Berlin Senate Department for Higher Education and Research and Technische Universität Berlin
Millions of euros of funding provided by the federal government and the State of Berlin for AI beacon in the German capital
Wednesday, 15. January 2020
- President TU Berlin Prof. Dr. Christian Thomsen, federal minister for research and education Anja Karliczek, Prof. Dr. Klaus-Robert Müller, director of Berlin Institute for the Foundations of Learning and Data, Prof. Dr. Volker Markl, director des Berlin Institute for the Foundations of Learning and Data, and governing mayor of Berlin and senator for higher education and research Michael Müller
- © Felix Noak
Press release No. 5/2020
The Institute for the Foundations of Learning and Data (BIFOLD) brings together AI expertise in Berlin.
As part of the federal government’s AI strategy, a leading center for cutting-edge research has been established in Berlin. The two existing centers for AI expertise at Technische Universität Berlin, the Berlin Big Data Center (BBDC) and the Berlin Center for Machine Learning (BZML), are being merged to create the Institute for the Foundations of Learning and Data. Cooperation with other Berlin partner institutes is also being developed. The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) has already increased funding for both centers by a further 18 million euros. This brings the total federal funding for BIFOLD for the period 2019 to 2022 to 32 million euros. The State of Berlin is also adding its support by providing funding for eight new AI professorships at Technische Universität Berlin and Freie Universtität Berlin. 3.5 million euros have been made available for this in the current budget.
Through their funding, the federal government and Berlin are helping create an AI hub at the Technische Universität Berlin campus, closely linking research, training and innovation at the interface of Big Data and machine learning. The goals are to create a research center with an international reputation and profile to conduct research at a global level and to compete effectively in the competition to attract leading minds in the field of AI as well as to train the AI experts so essential for the future.
Anja Karliczek, federal minister for research and education: “The merging of the two Berlin AI centers of expertise to create BIFOLD represents a milestone in the implementation of the federal government’s AI strategy. BIFOLD brings together key AI competencies. BIFOLD will also focus on researching the transparency and the explainability of AI systems as well as ethical aspects of AI. It is precisely this which sets us apart from other AI research locations on other continents. Outstanding research is required to make Germany a leading location for AI. This is why the BMBF has provided the funding for BIFOLD and doubled funding for other German centers of AI expertise.”
“Berlin can really advance research into artificial intelligence in Germany. BIFOLD represents the next major step in this process. We are therefore establishing new professorships and will make greater use of existing synergies in AI research in Berlin. Our city already enjoys a unique ecosystem, consisting of institutions and hundreds of specialists researching and teaching in the widest possible spectrum of AI fields. This represents an enormous potential which we wish to work together to develop,” Michael Müller, governing mayor of Berlin and senator for higher education and research, points out.
“It is important and right that the technological foundations of AI are researched and developed to a very large extent at public universities and not just at major commercial enterprises,” says Professor Dr. Christian Thomsen, president of Technische Universität Berlin. “Today more than ever, technological advances are closely interwoven with debates in society concerning regulation, transparency and responsibility. As an integral part of Technische Universität Berlin, BIFOLD is excellently positioned to address societal issues and challenges. This is also an essential aspect of its work,” Thomsen adds.
In terms of its areas of work, BIFOLD pursues three major objectives: top level research in the areas of Big Data and machine learning and their interfaces; the development of technologies, tools and systems to firmly anchor the topic of AI in science as well as business and society; training and educating the AI experts so urgently required internationally.
The Federal Ministry of Education and Research also funds a further five AI centers of expertise at universities in Munich, Tübingen, Dortmund/Bonn and Dresden/Leipzig as well as the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence. All of these centers are being developed as part of the federal government’s AI strategy. The 64 million euros originally earmarked for these centers for 2019-2022 has now been doubled.
Press briefing 
Photo material available for download 
Further information can be obtained from:Prof. Dr. Volker Markl
Chair of Database Systems and Information Management
phone: 030/314 23555