Publication date: 
Sixty thousand euros - half a million million crowns - for the development of applications and services based on artificial intelligence. This relatively significant amount is rather uncommonly offered by European researchers to start-ups and small and medium-sized companies. Innovative companies can submit their projects until the end of June. A total of sixteen companies will be selected, who will then have six months to develop their products. We asked Josef Šivic, an expert in computer vision, from the Czech Institute of Informatics, Robotics and Cybernetics of the Czech Technical University in Prague (CIIRC ČVUT), who participated in the formulation of this grant call and will sit on a commission that will select the most successful adepts.

What led European scientists to list such an open call? 

From the very beginning, our motivation was formulated in the ELISE project, which is funded by the EU Horizon 2020 program and from whose funds the open call is paid for. We want to establish cooperation with companies and involve them in our network of research centers of excellence for artificial intelligence. It includes a total of 23 scientific partners from 11 European countries. However, the community is much larger, we work closely with the pan-European machine learning initiative ELLIS. Another effect will be the spread of machine learning techniques among companies. 

How do you want to achieve this? 

We chose the not quite usual procedure - the company should have its "scientific mentor", who is there mainly to help the company orient itself in possible solutions, to provide information about what is relevant to its problem. It should be someone who is connected to research in the field, but not necessarily a member of ELISE or ELLIS. It is clear to us that there are a number of approaches based on machine learning. Everything has been evolving rapidly lately. The company can address the scientist directly - if it wants to support the company and devote time to cooperation, it shows the potential of its plan. 

How is the grant set up? 

The company will receive considerable funds - a lump sum of EUR 60,000 - for a period of six months. They are intended to help it develop the innovative potential of a particular idea or improvement. You can't come up with something completely new in half a year. The goal is rather to help companies incorporate the elements of machine learning into the already prepared solution. For example, on data that they already have available. At the same time, those six months are a good time to get to know each other for further, ideally longer-term cooperation. 

What companies or projects do you expect to apply? 

Typically, these will be small or medium-sized businesses, but also start-ups that have their own business plan and decide how to use machine learning to bring some additional value to their customers and strengthen the competitiveness of their technology. For example, a company that wants to use machine learning in software for medical imaging devices - and help radiologists, for example, "read" medical images of the lungs. Or a company that is considering the use of neural networks to predict toxicity in the evaluation of chemical compounds. We expect suitable ideas from industry and beyond. Paradoxically, it turns out that the pandemic has started a number of innovative activities. Czech companies have the same chances in this respect as others. 

Projects can be submitted until noon on 1 July 2021 via:

Experts will advise companies how to prepare a grant application so that these funds can be obtained in a webinar, which will take place on 16 June 2021, from 12.00 to 12.45. It is possible to register via

Details are available on the event's website or on Facebook event.