After months of preparation, the partners in the European Testing and Experimentation Facilities (TEF) finally met physically in Copenhagen, Denmark this week.
Over 250 people from the 128 partners were assembled at Industriens Hus, the headquarters of the Confederation of Danish Industry, to talk, laugh, network and plan for the next steps of the four TEFs. They were joined by Danish Minister for Digital Government Ms Marie Bjerre, Director of AI and Digital Industry at the European Commission Ms Lucilla Sciolli, and many other stakeholders and partners, including members of TEF DK, the newly formed Danish industry association. - (See the video streaming from the first part of the launch day)
The four TEFs have a combined budget of 220 million euros, half of which comes from the Digital Europe Programme of the European Commission and the other half from EU Member State countries, local governments, businesses and other investors.
Mr Martin Brynskov, lead and coordinator of the hosting CitCom.ai TEF, Director of Connecting Communities at Technical University of Denmark (DTU) and Co-vice-chair of TEF DK is very satisfied with how everything went.
"It has been a humbling experience and a pleasure to finally be together physically for the first time with all the four teams, the European Commission, the Minister and other actors around the TEFs. Meeting in person is just special," he says and continues:
"I would like to thank the other TEF coordinators for the opportunity to host the joint TEF launch here in Denmark. It was a great honour for us, and we really appreciated having them all here."
Launch event went flawlessly
The first day, Monday June 26, was filled with meetings between TEF coordinators and their management teams, briefings about work packages and relief at finally seeing each other live instead of online.
Tuesday the TEFs officially launched at a large ceremony and launch event which was attended by the Danish Minister for Digitalisation and Equality, Ms Marie Bjerre, and Ms Lucilla Sioli, Director for AI and Digital Industry in DG Connect at the European Commission.
The audience also received a video address from the Spanish Secretary of State for Digitalisation and Artificial Intelligence represented by Director-General Mr Salvador Estevan, and from the French National Coordinator for AI, Mr Guillaume Avrin.
Organised jointly by the four TEFs with CitCom.ai and DTU as the host, the event took place at the Confederation of Danish Industry (DI) represented in the launch by Mr Andreas Holbak Espersen, Director of DI Digital (acting) and Director of Digital Policy, and also Chair of TEF DK.
A packed room heard an ambitious vision for responsible AI adoption in EU and the rest of the world, while coordinators from the four TEFs and representatives from partners gave a concrete glimpse into how TEFs work and will evolve in the future.
Three site visits
After a combined exhibition with 30 presenters and a networking lunch, attendees visited one of three sites in Copenhagen where partners involved in the CitCom.ai TEF demonstrated already established AI and robotics test facilities.
Visitors could choose between DOLL, Europe’s largest smart city living lab operated by We Build Denmark and located in the Copenhagen suburb of Albertslund, Force Technology, located at DTU Science Park in another suburb Hørsholm, and finally Bloxhub, the remarkable Nordic hub for sustainable urbanization on the waterfront in Copenhagen.
At DOLL the visitors saw mobility AI solutions being tested in real-world scenarios, from sensors counting traffic to control-and-dim streetlights and a bike equipped to map bicycle paths in need of repair, and special cameras feeding data into algorithms which help with fire detection and intersection planning. DOLL is also part of We Build Denmark, which is the Danish Industry Cluster for the Built Environment, and co-founder of TEF DK.
At Force Technology visitors saw testing facilities for acoustics, noise and sound quality and for products with photonics technology, in addition IoT labs and hubs from the Nordic IoT Centre. Force Technology is one of the seven Danish government-approved Research and Technology Organisations (RTOs). Together with two other RTOs, Danish Technological Institute and The Alexandra Institute, they had arranged a hands-on exhibition which included beyond-state-of-the-art health and manufacturing technologies. Force Technology is co-vice-chair of TEF DK.
Finally, at Bloxhub, the the Nordic hub for sustainable urbanisation, the visitors were invited by TEF DK to a sneak peek into the possibilities of working with the Danish AI ecosystem. TEF DK is an open industry association for Danish suppliers of ai services for development, testing, and certification of products and services. TEF DK is also formally partner in CitCom.ai. The company 2021.ai, a company delivering regulatory AI sandboxes, and representatives from the “D-Seal”, a certification process for safe and responsible data processing and management, showed how they can assist developers to accelerate their development process while ensuring compliance and documentation. Force Technology revealed a new development sandbox for future 5G opportunities and the Aarhus Municipality, Denmark’s second largest, representing the 16 minucipalities in GovTech Central Denmark, demonstrated how companies can test AI and robotics solutions in real life settings.
The huge Launch Day ended with a reception at Copenhagen City Hall, hosted by the City of Copenhagen.
All in all, the three-day launch event was a success, Martin Brynskov reflects. He is excited for the future of the TEFs and the future of collaboration with the other teams and partners around Europe.
"Now the hard part begins, and we have to make this work for real. But luckily, we are surrounded by great people and are not starting from scratch. We are building on an existing community, namely that of Open & Agile Smart Communities and Living-in.EU, with all of its partners, and that is key to making this work," he says and continues:
"We are filling a great need here. I am very hopeful for the future of collaboration with the other TEFs, and I can't wait to be open for business. But it was great to see and celebrate how far we have come already."
The next big date for the xTEF community is January 1, 2024, where all four TEFs will be officially open for business. Even though a few partners already provide some services in July, there is much work to be done the next months.
If you really cannot wait to hear more, the Spanish EU Presidency will in November 2023 invite all the TEFs and interested parties to take a sneak peek on what will be revealed in 2024.
The CitCom.ai TEF will have its main open-for-business event as part of the Open & Agile Smart Communities (OASC) Annual Conference 16-17 January 2024 in Brussels.
VIDEO STREAMING from the Launch Event in Copenhagen: https://live.industrienshus.dk...