Highlights from Cyber Valley’s first five years
A look at Cyber Valley’s history so far – and what’s next.
December 2016: Go-ahead for Cyber Valley
Intelligent systems will shape our future: They could chauffeur us as autonomous vehicles, assist us in our daily lives as household helpers, or provide medical services as tiny robots. To drive development in this direction, partners from science and industry are creating Cyber Valley in the Stuttgart-Tübingen area on the initiative of the Max Planck Society and the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems (MPI-IS). Winfried Kretschmann, Minister President of the State of Baden-Württemberg, Theresia Bauer, Minister of Science of the State, and Martin Stratmann, President of the Max Planck Society, as well as the other project participants launch Cyber Valley on Thursday, December 15, 2016, at Stuttgart’s Neues Schloss.
July 2017: Launch of the IMPRS-IS
The International Max Planck Research School for Intelligent Systems (IMPRS-IS) includes the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems (MPI-IS) and the Universities of Stuttgart and Tübingen. The Ph.D. program offers young scientists from all over the world the opportunity to complete their studies under the supervision of Europe’s leading researchers in the fields of machine learning, robotics and computer vision. Since its launch, IMPRS-IS has received more than 2,000 applications from around the world. The multidisciplinary Ph.D. program currently has 217 Ph.D. students and approximately 30 associate students.
October 2017: Amazon joins Cyber Valley and announces new research center
Cyber Valley enlists Amazon as an industry partner. In the future, Amazon wants to participate in the research cooperation and establish its own research center in Tübingen. As part of the cooperation, Amazon will also provide support in the form of Amazon Research Awards worth 420,000 euros annually. The research funds will be used to finance the research of doctoral and post-doctoral students at MPI-IS.
2018: Cyber Valley research groups and professorships start work
Ten new research groups start their work, more than ten new professorships in the field of AI are established. Today, Cyber Valley counts nearly 100 research groups and professorships.
April 2018: Initiative to establish a European Lab for Learning & Intelligent Systems
Scientists from Germany, France, Great Britain, Israel, the Netherlands and Switzerland have called for the rapid establishment of a European Laboratory for Learning and Intelligent Systems (ELLIS). The task of ELLIS must be to integrate the best European researchers from academia and at the same time to work closely with basic researchers from industry, the statement says. The European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) could serve as a model. Consequently, the ELLIS Society was founded in December 2018.
September 2018: Approval of clusters of excellence in Stuttgart and Tübingen
The first funding decision of the Excellence Strategy is made in favor of Cyber Valley; both the University of Stuttgart and the University of Tübingen are able to position themselves in the selection process in the race for the second funding line Excellence Universities: “Data-integrated Simulation Sciences” (SimTech) and “Integrative Computer-based Design and Construction for Architecture” (IntCDC) in Stuttgart, as well as “Machine Learning: New Perspectives for Science” in Tübingen are the names of the Clusters of Excellence.
October 2018: Tübingen receives competence center for AI
Tübingen receives a competence center for AI and machine learning. This means that Tübingen has been selected as one of four locations nationwide where the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) will bundle science projects on AI. In the “Tübingen AI Center”, research groups from the University of Tübingen and MPI-IS will work on the further development of learning systems. The competence centers are expected to play an important role in the German government’s announced strategy on AI.
December 2018: Cyber Valley launches federal competition for artificial intelligence
The University of Tübingen and the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems are launching the Bundeswettbewerb Künstliche Intelligenz (BWKI), the first nationwide student competition for AI, as part of the Cyber Valley initiative. The annual BWKI is aimed at students between the ages of 14 and 19 who have strengths in science subjects such as mathematics, computer science or physics – and are interested in developing creative solutions to the challenges of the future. The competition’s sponsors and supporters include Cyber Valley partners Bosch, Amazon and the Carl Zeiss Foundation.
July 2019: Bosch announces new AI research center and opening of AI Research Building in Tübingen
Bosch is stepping up its activities in the field of AI, a technology of the future: in Cyber Valley, the technology company plans to invest around 35 million euros in the construction of the “Bosch AI Campus” in Tübingen. Around 700 experts will work there on application-oriented AI in the future.
August 2019: Cyber Valley establishes public advisory board
The Cyber Valley Public Advisory Board (PAB) is a joint commission of the partners from politics, science and industry. It evaluates scientific projects to be funded by Cyber Valley’s research fund in terms of their ethical and societal implications, creating an additional element of transparency. The fund is used to finance free research projects, i.e. those not specified by industry, although it is the industry partners who fill the funding pot.
November 2019: Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft joins Cyber Valley
The Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft joins the Cyber Valley research alliance by establishing a new AI progress center. The state and the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft are establishing a new center for AI in SMEs. The AI Progress Center “Learning Systems and Cognitive Robotics” is to support companies in exploiting the economic opportunities of the key technology AI for themselves through application-oriented research and technology transfer.
November 2019: Cyber Valley establishes Start-Up Network
The Cyber Valley Start-Up Network builds and nurtures a community of start-up entrepreneurs. As members of the network, startups are invited to regularly attend events such as talks and meet-ups. Membership has grown rapidly over the past five years, from the initial seven founding members at the end of 2019 to 30 startups two years later.
September 2020: Cyber Valley launches Investor Network
The Cyber Valley Investor Network takes the vision of Europe’s largest AI research consortium as a leading breeding ground for successful AI startups one step further. The five network members engage as mentor:ing researchers within the Cyber Valley ecosystem, helping them turn research and business ideas into successful companies. The venture capital firms’ advice will serve as a springboard for future entrepreneurs, creating AI jobs of tomorrow.
September 2020: Inauguration of the first ELLIS units
The European Laboratory for Learning and Intelligent Systems (ELLIS) inaugurates its first 30 units, where partners bundle their activities at one location. Today, the ELLIS network comprises a total of 34 such units, spread across 14 European countries. These include one unit each in Stuttgart and Tübingen, in which the University and the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems are involved. ELLIS units are to make a decisive contribution to securing Europe’s sovereignty and leading role in the research field of modern AI.
December 2020: Kick-off for the AI Breakthrough Hub
The AI Breakthrough Hub project, funded by the federal and state governments, as well as privateers, will be realized around the Tübingen AI Center, the joint competence center for machine learning of the University of Tübingen and MPI-IS. The German government and the state of Baden-Württemberg are massively expanding their support for Tübingen as an AI location. A total of three-digit millions will flow additionally into research and development in the field of AI in the coming years – including 100 million euros from a foundation of SAP founder Hans-Werner Hector, among other things to create “Hector Endowed ELLIS Fellowships” at a new institute in Tübingen.
March 2021: Launch of public engagement activities – exploring possible futures
Cyber Valley calls for and promotes ethically and socially reflective research in the field of AI. For this reason, Cyber Valley is dedicated to special public engagement dialogue formats. The term public engagement describes new forms of science dialogue that enable more accessibility and exchange between society and AI researchers. As of March 2021, Cyber Valley Public Engagement has many offerings in its repertoire, currently including, for example, its own podcast, Cyber Valley on the Road, AI Office Hours, and the Journalist-in-Residence program.
More Public Engagement highlights are in store for 2022: In the short story competition “CyberStories”, students will imagine their future with AI; scientists will then relate these ideas and visions to current research. For this purpose, Cyber Valley designs teaching materials on AI. Cyber Valley will also participate in the Stuttgart Science Festival 2022. In addition, the KI-Makerspace in Tübingen will open its doors. The Makerspace is a platform for sociopolitical discussions and an extracurricular learning space. Here, children and young people can gain their first experience with programming and AI and realize their own projects with software and hardware.
December 2021: AI GameDev
AI GameDev is the first competition in Europe to facilitate the transfer of technology and knowledge from European AI research to the many potential applications in game development. Game developer Square Enix, venture capital firm IT-Farm and Cyber Valley launched AI GameDev as a pan-European competition for ideas and concepts that harness tools from machine learning, computer vision and robotics for improved game development and a more realistic gaming experience. The competition was open to start-ups and AI researchers – as individuals or in teams. More about the winners can be found here.
January 2022: Start of construction of Cyber Valley building Tübingen
The groundbreaking ceremony for the first new Cyber Valley building of the state of Baden-Württemberg will take place in the Tübingen Technology Park – in direct proximity to the AI sites of the University of Tübingen, Amazon and the Max Planck Campus. Researchers from the university, the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems and the Cyber Valley Managing Office are expected to be able to move into the Cyber Valley building from the end of 2024. There are also plans to construct additional buildings for the numerous AI researchers at the university, the Tübingen AI Center and the Tübingen ELLIS activities in the immediate vicinity.