Helmholtz AI kick-off meeting: #helloHelmholtzAI

With around 200 people onsite and 1700 livestream views, it was the perfect networking setting for the Helmholtz AI community.

Around 200 people representing institutes across the Helmholtz Association met last March 5th at Lenbach Palais, Munich, for the official Helmholtz AI kick-off meeting. The event, which was also followed by 1700 viewers via livestream on Helmholtz AI’s website and on twitter through the hashtag #helloHelmholtzAI, was the perfect opportunity for the Helmholtz AI community to get together and discuss use cases in applied AI/ML. 

Otmar Wiestler, president of the Helmholtz Association opened this internal full-day event highlighting that 'one of our key future challenges is generating knowledge out of our enormous amount of big data. What we need for that is AI, machine learning, and all the tools covered by this kick-off here today'. Guests from politics and research also welcomed the event, including Matthias Tschöp, CEO of Helmholtz Zentrum Munich, Gerhard Kramer, Senior Vice President for Research and Innovation at the Technical University of Munich, Sabine Jarothe, director general of the Bavarian Ministry of Economic Affairs, Regional Development and Energy and Michael Strepp, director general  of the Bavarian Ministry for Digital Affairs. 

Fabian Theis, scientific director of Helmholtz AI, provided an overview of the platform, a research-driven hub for applied AI that 'combines Helmholtz’s unique research questions, data sets and expertise with newly-developed AI/ML-based tools to democratise access to them in an open and dynamic community'. The presentation was complemented by an overview of the HAICORE infrastructure, by Jennifer Schröter (Karlsruhe Institute of Technology).

The Helmholtz AI kick-off meeting featured two outstanding keynote speakers: Sami Haddadin(Technical University of Munich), on ‘Robotics = embodied AI’,  andMatthias Bethge(University of Tübingen), who talked about neural decision making and the next generation of AI. 

In the afternoon, all six Helmholtz research fields were represented by speakers from Helmholtz AI local units (Carsten Marr, from Helmholtz Zentrum München, representing health; Eduardo Zorita, from Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht, representing earth and environment; Richard Bamler, from the German Aerospace Center, representing aeronautics, space and transport;  Timo Dicksheid, from Forschungszentrum Jülich, representing information, Nicole Ludwig, from Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, representing energy, and Nico Hoffmann, from Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf, representing matter) who presented applied AI/ML use cases for discussion and as an example for future research projects that could potentially benefit from these technologies.  

With the same goal, kick-off participants were encouraged to submit a digital scientific poster providing an overview of relevant use cases or projects; more than 40 posters, clustered by method or domain area, were discussed over lunch and the evening reception, sparkling conversation and networking opportunities. All abstracts are available online; registered participants can also access the displayed posters. 

'Fostering interaction between researchers working in AI method development and applications, finding new collaboration partners for future project calls, driving the integration of Helmholtz AI within the Helmholtz Association - that is what we were looking forward to at the Helmholtz AI Kick-off meeting, a goal we believe was successfully achieved' summarised Christoph Feest, head of science management at Helmholtz AI. 

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