Founding of the Hesse Centre for Artificial Intelligence

TU Darmstadt will be home to the spokespeople and main site of the centre

2020/08/31 by

The new Hessian Centre for Artificial Intelligence (AI Centre Hesse) – funded by the State of Hesse and with its main site at TU Darmstadt – aims to deliver excellent basic research, focus on specific practical applications to find answers to the important challenges of our time and transfer the knowledge to business and society.

The new centre presented today is unique across Germany because it is backed by 13 universities in Hesse comprising different types of institutions and brings together their various strengths. The state is creating 20 additional professorships and providing funding of 38 million euros for them during the five-year development phase. The AI Centre is being founded by the 13 universities as a joint institution, which is made possible by the University Act of the State of Hesse. It will have its main centre at TU Darmstadt, a secondary site at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University Frankfurt and other regional sites at the participating universities. The founding members will include 22 scientists and the spokespeople for the centre are Prof. Dr.-Ing. Mira Mezini and Prof. Dr. Kristian Kersting, both from the Department of Computer Science at TU Darmstadt.

The centre and especially the additional 20 professorships should attract excellent scientists to Hesse, offer researchers who are already working here an attractive environment and promote outstanding young scientists. It will offer AI modules for courses of study in all departments and will also establish a graduate school.

Views expressed at the press conference

Angela Dorn, Hessian Minister for Higher Education, Research and the Arts

“Artificial intelligence enables computers to learn new skills that will allow us to find better solutions to the challenges we face, be it in the field of medicine, tackling environmental issues or overcoming social problems. It will open up huge scientific and economic potential and thus comes with great responsibility. In order to exploit the opportunities for science, business and people in Hesse, we are relying on the particular strengths of the universities in Hesse: The Technical University of Darmstadt is strong in basic research and is closely followed by other universities that are conducting specialist research into AI, while we can also call on outstanding practical research at the University of Applied Sciences. The concept was jointly developed by 13 universities and more than 40 partners from the fields of research and business already want to cooperate with the centre today. Thanks to its unique characteristics, the centre will – as confirmed by the independent evaluation commission – become highly visible internationally, acting as a beacon in this field that will reach far beyond the boundaries of our state.”

Tarek Al-Wazir, Hessian Minister of Economics, Energy, Transport and Housing

“There is great potential in the business structures in Hesse for the application of artificial intelligence. More companies already use AI in Hesse today than in other federal states. Five percent of the companies in Hesse were already using AI in 2018. We want to build on this and expand the use of AI. A key focus of the AI Centre will be on transferring knowledge between science and business, i.e. between research and application. As a result, we want to enable more business start-ups. Artificial intelligence sounds abstract and complicated yet we are encountering it more and more in everyday life, whether it is facial recognition on smartphones or parking assistants in cars. In turn, companies will increasingly use AI as a motor for generating added value digitally. And this is what we want to strengthen and promote in Hesse.”

Prof. Dr. Kristina Sinemus, Hessian Minister for Digital Strategy and Development

“We want to decisively shape the development of artificial intelligence here in Hesse and at the same time place a particular focus on ethical issues. The use of AI should be for the benefit of people and based on clear, ethical principles. The development and application of AI in the future must be based on a free, democratic, responsible, transparent and non-discriminatory approach. Therefore, the possible applications should also always be carefully considered when carrying out research into AI. Interdisciplinarity is a core element and AI applications can thus only be successfully developed by combining the methods and insights of 3 or more different disciplines. The centre will therefore cooperate closely with the Centre for Responsible Digitalisation, which will make the Centre for Responsible Digitalisation a really key component of the success of AI in Hesse. It works at the interface between business, science and society in order to unlock the potential of AI for Hesse.”

Prof. Dr. Tanja Brühl,
President of TU Darmstadt

“The universities in Hesse that have worked on the concept for the centre under the leadership of TU Darmstadt have created something really unique here: We are bringing together all of our outstanding research into artificial intelligence in all its facets from the basics through to application research under one roof. As a result, we are taking on a pioneering role both nationally and internationally.” Prof. Dr. Tanja Brühl, Präsidentin der TU Darmstadt

Präsidentin Tanja Brühl
Picture: Katrin Binner

Prof. Dr. Birgitta Wolff, Chairwoman of the Conference of University Presidents in Hesse and President of Goethe University Frankfurt

“The fact that the new centre will integrate and bring together the full scope, originality and quality of the expertise in AI from all of the participating universities will give it greater standing and prestige. In future, we will be able to present our combined strengths in international competition and thus make Hesse a laboratory of the future for AI research.”

Prof. Dr. Matthias Willems, President of the TH Mittelhessen University of Applied Sciences and Chairman of HAW Hesse

“The University of Applied Sciences views participation in the new centre as an opportunity to contribute its expertise in IT and applications with the aim of developing beneficial applications for artificial intelligence. We expect this to be an advantage for the cross-university research collaboration, especially for transfer projects, from which companies throughout Hesse will be able to benefit in particular.”

The participating universities

  • Technical University of Darmstadt, Goethe University Frankfurt, Justus Liebig University Giessen, Philipps-Universität Marburg, University of Kassel as universities
  • RheinMain University, TH Mittelhessen University of Applied Sciences, Fulda University, Darmstadt University of Applied Sciences, Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences as universities for applied sciences
  • Hochschule Geisenheim University
  • University of Art and Design Offenbach as School of Art
  • Frankfurt School of Finance & Management as private university

As a reviewer have acted

  • Prof. Dietmar Harhoff, Ph.D., Max Planck Institute for Innovation and Competition
  • Stephan Kuester, Startup Genome LLC, United Kingdom
  • Prof. Dr. Bernhard Nebel, Department of Computer Science, University of Freiburg
  • Prof. Dr. Hans-Christian Pape, President of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation
  • Univ.-Prof. Dr. Christiane Wendehorst, LL.M., Department of Civil Law, University of Vienna