Northern German flagship project on artificial intelligence


Artificial intelligence and healthcare are two essential growth industries for the future that are also well represented in northern Germany. The KI-SIGS (‘KI-Space für intelligente Gesundheitssysteme’ – AI Space for Intelligent Healthcare Systems) Project brings together companies, universities and research institutes across northern Germany so that they can pool their expertise in these fields and work together to open up new areas of growth potential.

Foto: Shutterstock / whiteMocca
Foto: Shutterstock / whiteMocca
Northern German flagship project on artificial intelligence

The project, which has received ten million euros in funding from the German federal government, was officially launched at a kick-off event on 27 May 2020 hosted by its participating partners.

The goal of the KI-SIGS Project is to demonstrate how medical AI technology can be better developed and put to use more quickly, taking the region of northern Germany as a model. The project’s ‘beating heart’ is the AI Space – a platform to organise the general transfer of knowledge, coordinate planned development projects, and process regulatory and ethical requirements. Yet the question of how to get AI-based technologies approved by supervisory authorities remains largely unanswered. And it will be impossible to answer until more scientific research has been conducted – as is the case, too, for the potential ethical consequences of these technologies.

Beyond this, nine application projects have been set up to study concrete, true-to-life examples of medical issues involving AI technology; these include improving X-ray image quality, optimising respiratory treatment and recognising crisis situations in intensive care units.

KI-SIGS takes into account the structural transformation of the world’s economies, labour markets and societies caused by digitalisation. The project was launched last year with around ten million euros in funding from the German government and the support of the state governments of Schleswig-Holstein, Hamburg and Bremen.

It is also one of the sixteen winners of the ‘Artificial Intelligence’ Innovation Contest created by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi), standing out among the field of 130 contestants. This accomplishment was only made possible through mutual teamwork and intensive preparatory work in advance of the competition phase.

Dirk Schrödter (head of the State Chancellery of Schleswig-Holstein) touched on this idea in his welcome speech at the kick-off event, emphasising that ‘the pooling of expertise is more than just the sum of its parts’. He went on to praise the spirit of optimism he sees in the project and pledged continued political support for the project on behalf of the state government of Schleswig-Holstein.

Prof. Stefan Fischer, spokesperson for the project and vice president of the University of Lübeck, and Prof. Martin Leucker, who has been appointed as head of the KI-SIGS consortium at UniTransferKlink Lübeck GmbH, thanked all the initiators and participants for their outstanding work during the competition phase.

‘The task we face now is to continue to combine all of these individual interests and areas of expertise to create and maintain a unified and stable ecosystem,’ Leucker noted on the subject of motivation. Fischer highlighted the significance of the political support from all three state governments in northern Germany and from the Cluster Management organisation Life Science Nord (LSN).

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