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ITMO University Receives Grant to Fund AI Research Center

05.10.2021

ITMO University’s AI Research Center “Strong AI in Industry” became one of the grant winners in the contest held as part of the federal Artificial Intelligence project. The selection process was conducted by experts of the Analytical Center for the Government of the Russian Federation. The research center will be granted more than 1 billion rubles.the

The AI research center was created on the basis of the experience gained at ITMO University over the last five years. Its key field of research is strong AI – artificial intelligence developed to the point where it matches the creative activities of a professional, such as a designer, engineer, technologist, or manager. This will help create a methodological foundation for AI studies and demonstrate how it can be applied in in-demand technologies.

The key condition for applying for the grant was having an industrial partner. Together with Gazprom Neft, the center will create a decision support system for planning the development of deposits of natural resources. It will be possible to apply the achieved results to other natural resource facilities as well – the technology won’t be limited to oil and gas.

“The main thing is the territorial placement: to design the order of developing a territory, to create  a facility there, and use the resources efficiently,” says Alexander Boukhanovsky, head of the National Center for Cognitive Research. “Gazprom Neft covers all the fields related to the industry in general so what we’re doing for this company will be applicable in other areas as well.”

Other research conducted jointly with Gazprom Neft will be related to automatic design and usage of objects and facilities in the Arctic Russia and to the optimization of organizational and business processes. Russian branches of Siemens and Huawei will also be among the center’s partners.

“By doing projects for industrial partners, we form a core of technological ideas that will further lie in the foundation of a digital AI app development platform based on frameworks and open-source libraries. Based on  an agreement with our industrial partners as well as the grant’s conditions, we are planning to put our projects up for free use under the open licenses of ITMO University. Our center’s mission is to build the foundation for strong AI that will be recognized by the national and global communities,” says Alexander Boukhanovsky.

"AI technologies have reached a certain degree of maturity in many fields. But regarding major complex tasks, we are still only making our first steps and it's crucial to establish a productive interaction between business and academia. This will allow us to form the environment for complex solutions driven by cutting-edge AI approaches. I'm sure that the research center will become a great example of such interaction and will foster the development of technologies," says Timur Supataev, director for strategic digital partnerships at Gazprom Neft, head of the association Artificial Intelligence in Industry.

 “Artificial intelligence is the driver of all digital technologies. Leading countries in this field will always be a locomotive for the rest of the world. That’s the key goal of our new center – to lay the scientific and methodological ground for breakthrough digital solutions that are in-demand on the national and global markets. In order to stay on top of things and be a trendsetter in the industry, we focus on strong AI that can manage complex creative tasks. We’re glad that the expert committee and major industrial partners have supported our intentions,” says Daria Kozlova, ITMO’s First Vice Rector.

A total of 36 institutions competed for the grant and nine of them were shortlisted. The final winners are ITMO University, the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology, Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, the Ivannikov Institute for System Programming, Innopolis University, and the Higher School of Economics.

“Six research centers should not only help other participants grow and develop for the new competition but also bring Russia towards leading positions in AI technologies globally,” says Dmitry Chernyshenko, Deputy Chairman of the Government of the Russian Federation.

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