Amazon wants to join Cyber Valley

The technology company is supporting the research collaboration on AI initiated by the Max Planck Society

Cyber Valley has attracted another collaboration partner from industry. In future, Amazon intends to participate in the research collaboration initiated by the Max Planck Society in December 2016 which is one of the biggest projects in the field of artificial intelligence (AI) in Europe. In addition to its commitment to Cyber Valley, Amazon is also setting up its own research center adjacent to the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Tübingen and will step up collaboration with the Max Planck Society. “We appreciate Amazon’s commitment in the Cyber Valley and to research on artificial intelligence,” remarked Max Planck President Martin Stratmann. “We gain another strong cooperation partner who will further increase the international significance of research in the area of machine learning and computer vision in the Stuttgart and Tübingen region.”

Over the coming years, the technology company Amazon – like the other Cyber Valley partners from industry – will contribute € 1.25 million to setting up research groups in the Stuttgart and Tübingen region. The Max Planck Society, the federal state of Baden-Württemberg, the universities of Stuttgart and Tübingen as well as companies such as BMW, Bosch, Daimler, IAV, Porsche and ZF Friedrichshafen have joined forces in the collaboration project to drive forward research on intelligent systems and to create an environment for more successful start-ups. The first research groups planned as part of the initiative are currently being set up.

“With Amazon joining the Cyber Valley, our idea to create a fruitful environment for business activities will gain momentum by expanding AI research in the Stuttgart and Tübingen area,” indicated Martin Stratmann. “Only by bringing together world-class research and entrepreneurial spirit can we create the breeding ground for innovations that may prove to be technological breakthroughs in the future.”

A center for research on intelligent systems

Other Amazon projects also support the goal of turning Cyber Valley into a creative hotspot for scientific progress and economically successful innovation. In addition to joining the Cyber Valley cooperation, the company will also create 100 highly skilled jobs at a research center in Tübingen to expand applied research activities on artificial intelligence.

“Amazon continuously invests in research and high-skilled jobs,” said Ralf Herbrich, Director of Machine Learning at Amazon and Managing Director of the Amazon Development Center Germany. “With our Amazon Research center in Tübingen, we will become part of one of the largest research initiatives in Europe in the area of artificial intelligence. This underlines our commitment to create high-skilled jobs in breakthrough technologies.”

An additional € 420,000 a year for doctoral and postdoctoral students

Michael J. Black and Bernhard Schölkopf, Directors at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems, will support the research center as distinguished Amazon scholars. Bernhard Schölkopf is the leading machine learning scientist in Europe. He has conducted research into the underlying processes that enable computers to understand causality. Causal reasoning is a key factor in developing intelligent computers and is deployed in a wide range of applications in physics, engineering and the human sciences.

Michael Black is a world-leading expert in machine vision and co-founder of the New York based company Body Labs. “This company is endeavouring to commercialize AI methods which enable computers to understand three-dimensional motion and shape for various sectors of industry,” explained Michael Black. Amazon has now acquired Body Labs.

As part of the collaboration, Amazon is also supporting the Max Planck Society with Amazon Research Awards (ARA) worth € 420,000 a year. The Max Planck Society will use the funding to finance the research activities of doctoral and postdoctoral students at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems. This commitment will also help to achieve a key objective that the initiators of Cyber Valley had in mind when they launched the project. “The support from Amazon and the other Cyber Valley partners enables us to further improve the training of highly qualified junior researchers in the field of artificial intelligence,” remarked Bernhard Schölkopf. “This will help to ensure that we continue to provide both science and industry with creative minds to consolidate our pioneering position in intelligent systems.”

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