Six new artificial intelligence research centers announced in call issued by FAPESP with partners
May 19, 2021
Agência FAPESP – FAPESP, the Brazilian Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MCTI) and the Brazilian Internet Steering Committee (CGI.br) announced on May 4 the results of a call for proposals to establish Applied Research Centers (ARCs) in artificial intelligence focusing on health, agriculture, manufacturing and smart cities.
FAPESP, MCTI and CGI.br will collectively invest BRL 1 million per year in each of the new ARCs for a period of up to ten years. Partner firms will invest a matching amount, taking the total to BRL 20 million per ARC.
The results concerning the six approved ARCs were announced in an online event hosted by MCTI. “Artificial intelligence is a dream for us here in Brazil, and we can’t afford to miss the train of history. I’m confident that science and our researchers will create novel solutions,” said Marcos Pontes, who heads MCTI. “We’ll soon be issuing another call for two more ARCs.” A video of the launch event (in Portuguese) can be watched on MCTI’s YouTube channel.
“What makes the world move is science, research and innovation – not the economy, as some ill-informed people believe,” said FAPESP President Marco Antonio Zago. Recalling the strategic role played by the National Laboratory for Scientific Computing (LNCC) and FAPESP during the “heroic period” of digital communications networks in Brazil in the 1980s, Zago predicted that collaborative research in agriculture, health, artificial intelligence, industry 4.0, and robotics will help Brazil recover after the pandemic. “I invite MCTI to renew what we’re announcing today,” he added.
For Carlos Américo Pacheco, CEO of FAPESP, artificial intelligence adds value and generates new ventures in several economic sectors, while also fueling demand for talented human resources. “The ARCs will also be hubs for the training of talented youngsters who will certainly have a bright future,” he said.
Márcio Nobre Mignon, Chair of CGI.br, explained that funding for the projects originates in the remaining revenue collected during the period in which FAPESP managed internet domain name registration in Brazil, between 1998 and December 2005, when NIC.br took over this function. “Our thanks to FAPESP for the quality and volume of projects submitted in response to the call,” he said.
The number of proposals submitted “surpassed expectations”, according to Paulo Alvim, MCTI’s Secretary for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.
Luiz Eugênio Mello, FAPESP’s Scientific Director, said 19 proposals were submitted in response to the call, which set a deadline of July 2020. “They were analyzed between October 2020 and March 2021. The analysis involved more than 80 technical opinions from reviewers in Brazil and abroad, and by FAPESP’s Area Panels. Ultimately the steering committee recommended approval of six projects, two more than originally intended, because of their outstanding quality,” Mello said before announcing the results.
ARCs in artificial intelligence
The ARCs in artificial intelligence follow the same model as the Engineering Research Centers (ERCs) supported by FAPESP. The six new ARCs will conduct scientific, technological and innovation-oriented research applied to problems that can be solved using artificial intelligence.
The ARC Artificial Intelligence Recreating Environments (IARA) will have as its principal investigator André Ponce de Leon Carvalho and will be hosted by the University of São Paulo’s Institute of Mathematical and Computational Sciences (ICMC-USP) in São Carlos. It will network with researchers throughout Brazil to study five aspects of smart cities: cybersecurity, education, infrastructure, environment, and health.
The Center for Innovation in Artificial Intelligence for Health (CIIA-Saúde) will be hosted by the Institute of Exact Sciences at the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG). Its principal investigator will be Virgílio de Almeida, and it will have 130 researchers working on disease prevention, quality of life, diagnosis, prognosis and tracking, therapeutic medicine, health management, epidemics, and disasters.
The Brazilian Institute of Data Science (BIOS) will have João Romano as its principal investigator and will be hosted by the University of Campinas’s School of Electrical and Computer Engineering (FEEC-UNICAMP). It will focus on medical diagnosis in healthcare for women, precision agriculture and agricultural resource use optimization, among other areas.
The Center of Excellence in Applied Research in Artificial Intelligence for Industry will be located in the state of Bahia at Cimatec, the Integrated Center for Manufacturing and Technology which is linked to the National Service of Industrial Training (SENAI), an initiative from Brazil’s National Confederation of Industry (CNI). Its principal investigator will be Antônio José da Silva Neto, and it will implement an open digital data science and artificial intelligence platform for industry 4.0.
The ARC for Evolution to Industry 4.0 will be hosted by the Technological Research Institute (IPT) in São Paulo. Its principal investigator will be Jefferson de Oliveira Gomes, and it will focus on real-time monitoring and control, digital twinning, supply chain interoperability and integration, autonomous systems, and robotics and machine tools, among others.
The Artificial Intelligence Reference Center (Cereia) will be hosted by the Federal University of Ceará (UFC) and its principal investigator will be José Andrade Júnior. It will partner with Science and Technology Institutes at the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio), the Federal University of Piauí (UFPI) and the University of Fortaleza, focusing on the internet of things (IoT), big data and digital transformation, among other areas, for prevention, diagnosis and low-cost therapeutics.
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