On June 10, KI Park opens, an association whose mission is to bring together companies, startups, research institutions, capital providers, and political and social stakeholders. We spoke in advance with Managing Director Dr. Florian Schütz, who told us about KI Park's plans and its role in the German and European AI ecosystem.
Anyone interested is welcome to register here for the opening event on June 10.
Dear Mr. Schütz, first of all, congratulations on the opening of the KI Park on June 10. How will you celebrate it?
Thank you very much, we are really looking forward to officially opening the KI Park. A lot has happened since the association was founded in October 2021. We had an intensive initial phase, during which we initiated the first projects and expanded our team and network. It is now time to introduce ourselves and KI Park officially to the community. A big opening event is the perfect format for this. We want to meet AI experts and AI enthusiasts at the event to share expert knowledge and experiences and talk about common goals and models for collaboration. We have prepared a very attractive program with renowned speakers from the AI community for our guests. I am especially looking forward to the opening keynote by Professor Jürgen Schmidhuber and further inspiring talks with well-known personalities from the AI scene.
What exactly is the KI Park and what can we expect there?
KI Park e.V. is an open ecosystem of leading companies, startups, research institutions, investors, and political and societal stakeholders. We address those AI topics of the future that must be radically accelerated today in order to become the technology leader in Germany and Europe by 2030. These include quantum machine learning, 6G and synthetic data. The USA and China are currently leading the way in the field of AI. We therefore support German and European projects for the development of innovative AI solutions with our network, know-how, the necessary technology and the resources from our ecosystem.
The KI Park was founded by twelve founding members from business, research and politics. How did the idea and eventual foundation come about?
There are already some initiatives in the field of AI and yet Germany and Europa are not where we should be today in AI research but especially in the transfer of this research into AI innovations. We have to become bolder and faster and develop a strong German and European competence profile for AI in order not to become dependent on the USA or China in the future. The question was: What can we contribute to this? How can we strengthen the research and innovation location in Germany and the EU? But also: How can we use AI to solve major social challenges such as climate change or in healthcare? And what compass of values must we apply when using AI? These questions can only be answered if science, business, politics and society join forces and different perspectives come together. This is exactly why the KI Park was founded - as an ecosystem that connects thought leaders and future shapers of AI in order to jointly move what none of us can do alone.
Who can settle or meet in the KI Park?
As a non-profit association, we are open to research institutions, startups, large companies, but also to actors from politics and civil society. We need experts as well as people and organizations with the will and courage to shape the future. It is important that the KI Park is characterized by openness and transparency. We rely on cooperation - across the boundaries of companies, industries and initiatives. The KI Park is the place where the physical - but also virtual - exchange between these actors takes place. Teams that advance the mission and the projects of the KI Park can also settle in the spaces of the KI Park in Berlin and its satellites in the future.
Research institutions, industry partners, startups and other partners come together at the KI Park. What should the collaboration between them look like in the future?
For the collaboration between the different actors, we are implementing various platforms and formats at the KI Park, which can be divided into three main fields of activity: Think, Connect and Innovate. The Think formats serve to build up new knowledge and to think ahead about the future topics of AI, for example via think tanks, studies and challenges. Our Connect platforms help to network actors and their know-how and to bring the AI community even closer together with stakeholders from science, business and politics - for example via knowledge-sharing events, matchmaking formats or knowledge databases. The most important Innovate format is our "Flagship" projects. Here, our members jointly implement projects in which innovative AI solutions are put to use in industry, administration and in people's everyday lives. In general, we as an association are in close strategic exchange with our bodies and members. Together, we define the topics, formats and cooperations in which each member of the KI Park is involved in order to achieve our common goals.
A mature and diverse AI ecosystem has grown up in Berlin. What new things can the local actors look forward to with the KI Park? What role does it play in the Berlin ecosystem?
We already work closely with many of these players, for example with Berlin Partner, with the Rise of AI Conference or with K.I.E.Z., which is one of our founding members through Science & Startups and Humboldt-Innovation. We are in close exchange with many others, not only in Berlin, but also throughout Germany and Europe. We do not want to become the better research network or the better incubator, but the leading ecosystem connecting the best AI initiatives in Germany and Europe. By building these bridges, we strengthen the AI scene as a whole.
In your eyes, what generally characterizes a successful ecosystem? Is the focus on location competition or to what extent should there be cooperation with other regional ecosystems?
We should combine both. Regional competence clusters are important and must be further strengthened - we are doing this through the regional KI Park satellites. But these regional activities can only be further scaled through supra-regional networking. This is the task of KI Park as an association operating throughout Germany and Europe.
But the fundamental question for identifying the success factors of an ecosystem is: Why should we work in an ecosystem at all? You can also develop technologies on your own as a research institution, startup or company. But we have to differentiate here: If it's not "just" about the next fastest chip, but about tomorrow's healthcare, for example, or about trustworthy information offerings or sustainable transportation solutions, then we need the new AI or quantum technologies, but we also have to think about much more, along the needs of the various stakeholders, and along the entire value chain: What data and information structures do we need for the success of our technology? What do concrete products, services, business models and market structures look like? How can and should the application be regulated or promoted? What societal values and attitudes need to be considered, what competencies need to be developed, and what usage habits need to be changed? Whether an AI solution is successful depends not only on scientific and technical factors, but also on economic, political and social factors. An innovation ecosystem is successful when it unites actors from all these areas behind a common mission. This is the reason why we at KI Park put special emphasis on the heterogeneity and complementarity of our members.
The physical KI Park will have its grand opening on June 10. What is the next planned milestone?
We are planning Germany- and Europe-wide satellites of the association and will open a second physical location in Erlangen/Nuremberg in just a few months, in addition to Berlin. In the second half of the year, we will be focusing on making a big impact. With our networks in the AI startup scene, in top-level research and in industry, we will jointly implement various "flagship projects" with ambitious goals. We have already successfully implemented the first knowledge sharing and networking formats, challenges and pitch events shortly after our foundation. In the coming months, we will especially push the topics AI in Healthcare, AI in 5G/6G, Quantum Machine Learning, Legal AI and many more topics massively!
Registration for the official opening of the KI Park on 10.06.2022 from 18:00 is possible via www.eventbrite.de/e/ki-park-ev-opening-event-pre-registration-tickets-316608222717.
Thank you for the interview, we are looking forward to the KI Park opening!