Italy is well known for its architecture, culture and cuisine. Soon, its contributions to AI may be just as renowned.
Taking a step in that direction, a national research organization forged a three-year collaboration with NVIDIA. Together they aim to accelerate AI research and commercial adoption across the country.
Leading the charge for Italy is CINI, the National Inter-University Consortium for Informatics that includes a faculty of more than 1,300 professors in various computing fields across 39 public universities.
CINI’s National Laboratory of Artificial Intelligence and Intelligence Systems (AIIS) is spearheading the effort as part of its goal to expand Italy’s ecosystem for both academic research and commercial applications of AI.
“Leveraging NVIDIA’s expertise to build systems specifically designed for the creation of AI will help secure Italy’s position as a top player in AI education, research and industry adoption,” said Rita Cucchiara, a professor of computer engineering and science and director of AIIS.
National effort begins in Modena
The joint initiative aims to train students, nurture startups and spread adoption of the latest AI technology throughout Italy. To get started, the partners will create a local hub at the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia (Unimore) for the global NVIDIA AI Technology Center.
The partnership marks an important expansion of NVIDIA’s work with the university whose roots date back to the medieval period.
In December, the company supported research on a novel way to automate the process of describing actions in a video. A team of four researchers at Unimore and one from Milan-based AI startup Metaliquid developed an AI model that achieved a significant improvement compared to prior solutions. In a final stage of the project, NVIDIA helped researchers analyze their network’s topology to optimize training it on an NVIDIA DGX-1 system.
In July, Unimore and NVIDIA collaborated on an event for AI startups. Unimore’s AImageLab hosted the event, which included representatives of NVIDIA’s Inception program, an initiative to nurture AI startups with access to the company’s technology and ecosystem.
Italy’s new AI partnership comes at a time when the AImageLab, host for the new NVIDIA hub, is already making its mark in areas such as machine vision and medical imaging.
Winning kudos in image recognition
In September, two world-class research events singled out the AImageLab for recognition. One team from the lab won a best paper award at the International Conference on Computer Analysis of Images and Patterns. Another came third out of 64 research groups in an international competition using AI to classify skin lesions.
The Modena hub becomes the latest of more than 12 collaborations with countries worldwide for the NVIDIA AI Technology Center. NVAITC maintains an open database of research and tools developed with and for its partners.
Overall, the new collaboration “will bring together NVIDIA and CINI in our shared mission to enable, support and inform Italy’s AI ecosystem for research, industry and society,” said Simon See, senior director of NVAITC.