CLAIRE 2nd Anniversary Update

A mere 24 months ago, on 18 June 2018, CLAIRE was officially launched. It’s amazing to see how far we’ve come since then. Here are some of the things we’ve accomplished in the past year, along with updates on several exciting ongoing and new projects:

  1. The CLAIRE Association

From the beginning, CLAIRE has been a grass-roots, community-driven effort, aiming to guide and complement the top-down initiatives by national governments and the European Commission. This has been a very good model, but as our organisation has grown and matured, and as we are taking official responsibilities (for instance, working with the European Commissions and with industry), it has become necessary to create a formal association.

As of 31 January 2020, the Confederation of Laboratories for Artificial Intelligence Research (CLAIRE) exists as an official international non-profit association under Belgian law (AISBL), which is the legal framework also used by EurAI and many other non-profit organisations working with the EU Commission. On 25 May 2020, the Belgian Ministry of Justice has signed the Royal Decree recognising the legal status of the association.

Most of the groups, labs and organisations that form CLAIRE’s large and diverse research network have already confirmed their status as formal members of the association, while a few are in the final stages of legal processes within their institutions required to make that transition. While this transition is somewhat bureaucratic in nature, please rest assured that we are fully committed to preserving the nimble, flexible and inclusive character of CLAIRE, for the benefit of all its members.

  1. Funding and Sponsorship

Since the very beginning, CLAIRE has been supported, financially and with in-kind contributions, by the various organisations and public bodies that share the CLAIRE vision. To recognise those past and ongoing contributions, and to facilitate future financial support for CLAIRE, we have now launched an official CLAIRE Sponsorship Programme; for details, see In terms of direct contributions to its operation between June 2018 and December 2020, sponsorship support for CLAIRE comes to a total of 1.58 million Euros, rising from 162,000 EUR received in 2018 to over 800,000 EUR for 2020. All of this is “fresh money”, contributed in cash or in-kind to CLAIRE directly; it does not include funding received or spent by CLAIRE member groups and institutions on AI research or innovation. Sponsors of CLAIRE include Leiden University, German Research Centre for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI), Oslo Metropolitan University, The Norwegian Artificial Intelligence Research Consortium (NORA), Vrije Universiteit Brussel and Université Libre de Bruxelles (VUB/ULB), Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW), Czech Institute of Informatics, Robotics and Cybernetics (CIIRC), Sapienza University of Rome, the European Space Agency (ESA), Territory, the City of the Hague, the State of Saarland and the Dutch Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations, to all of whom we are deeply grateful for their support.

  1. Support from the European Commission under ICT-48-2020

As announced by us in April 2020, CLAIRE has been amazingly successful in the recent, strategically important ICT-48-2020 call by the European Commission. Four of the five consortia selected for funding under ICT-48 are coordinated by members of CLAIRE; these include TAILOR, Humane-AI-Net and AI4Media, which will form large and diverse networks of centres of excellence in AI research, as well as VISION, which will coordinate between these and one additional network, ELISE, selected for funding (ELISE also includes several members of CLAIRE), in order to position Europe for leadership in human-centred, trustworthy AI. This resounding success in a highly competitive process further strengthens CLAIRE’s leading role in shaping the European AI ecosystem.

Bianca Hoersch, Chief Digital Officer of the European Space Agency (with whom CLAIRE is collaborating closely on space-related AI research and applications), shared her excitement on this achievement: “On the occasion of its 2nd anniversary, we would like to congratulate CLAIRE on the extraordinary success in the selection of ITC-48 networks. We look forward to exploring possible connections with these networks via CLAIRE, to advance AI solutions for the space sector and to foster trustworthy systems, products, data and information.”

The ICT-48 networks and coordination mandate are expected to be launched officially in September 2020 and to operate for at least three years.

  1. Growth in support, new offices and staff

Launched in December 2018, the CLAIRE Research Network had grown to 288 member groups, institutes and organisations by our first anniversary, in June 2019. Currently, this number stands at 375 and continues to increase steadily. These members of the CLAIRE Research Network range from individual university labs to the largest AI research institutes in Europe; jointly, they employ more than 21,000 AI researchers and support staff, covering all areas of AI and a wide range of real-world applications. Their combined budget for AI research and supporting activities exceeds 400 million Euros per year.

Support by individuals for the CLAIRE vision of excellence across all of AI, for all of Europe, with a human-centred focus, has steadily risen from 1680 supporters on the day CLAIRE launched to over 3500 now in June 2020.

Over the past 12 months, four additional European governments have officially stated their support for the CLAIRE vision: Spain (July 2019), Finland (August 2019), Greece (September 2019) and the Netherlands (October 2019). This brings the total number of countries whose governments have issued letters of support for CLAIRE to nine, with others expected to follow in the near future.

Since June 2019, new CLAIRE administrative offices have been established in Brussels, Oslo and Zurich, along with the new CLAIRE Headquarters in The Hague. Although the official openings of the new offices in Brussels, Oslo and Zurich have been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, eight new staff members from all over Europe have joined the CLAIRE offices in Brussels, Oslo, Rome, Saarbrücken and Zurich, bringing the total number of support staff working for CLAIRE up to 15, spread over 7 offices.

  1. Important events

Over the past 12 months, CLAIRE has been organising and participating in a large number of events – too many, in fact, to list them all here. Highlights include:

  • a presentation of CLAIRE to the Joint Committee on AI and Disruptive Innovation of the French and German Parliaments, given by CLAIRE core team members, Philipp Slusallek and Holger Hoos, on 1 July 2019 in Paris;
  • a brief presentation on the CLAIRE vision given to French President, Emanuel Macron, and several of his ministers, given by CLAIRE core team member, Holger Hoos, during a working dinner on 29 October 2019 in Paris;
  • a working meeting on the CLAIRE vision between the Executive Vice President of the European Commission, Margrethe Vestager, and her senior leadership team with CLAIRE core team members, Holger Hoos and Morten Irgens, on 15 November 2019 in Brussels;
  • a working visit by the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, to the Belgian CLAIRE Office (headed by Hans De Canck) and AI Experience Center at Vrije Universiteit Brussel, on 18 February 2020, on the occasion of the announcement of the Commission’s plans on Artificial Intelligence.

Furthermore, CLAIRE organised two theme development workshops related to earth observation and climate change together with ESA, and members of the CLAIRE core team gave presentations at the Global Forum on AI for Humanity in October 2019 in Paris and at various other scientific meetings. CLAIRE also held a well-attended community meeting at IJCAI 2019 in August 2019 in Macau, as well as a working meeting on learning, reasoning and optimisation at ECML/PKDD 2019 in September 2019 in Würzburg (Germany), and CLAIRE organised and hosted a meeting of the HumanE-AI consortium in October 2019 in The Hague. Please see and follow the relevant channels on Zulip (in particular, to receive up-to-date information on upcoming events or reports on past ones.

  1. AI for All, AI for Good and new partnership with AIhub

In December 2019, at the official opening of the CLAIRE headquarters in The Hague, we announced “AI for Good” and “AI for All” as our core values. This decision was made in recognition of the fact that AI technologies increasingly shape our future and, developed and used in the right way, can play a key role in addressing the pressing issues of our time – challenges such as climate change and the current pandemic that play out on a global scale and have far-reaching implications. This commitment to “AI for Good” and “AI for All” not only aligns perfectly with the CLAIRE vision, but also with the direction taken by the European Commission and other global initiatives. It led directly to substantial funding of the CLAIRE headquarters by the Dutch Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations.

“AI for Good” refers to the development and use of AI technologies for the benefit of humanity and the ecosystem we live in, e.g., by enabling progress towards the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. “AI for All” aims to ensure that AI systems and technologies benefit everyone, including companies of all sizes and across all sectors of the economy; public administration, public institutions and non-governmental organisations; and individual citizens across Europe.

To further develop this dual focus on AI for Good and AI for All, CLAIRE is proud to announce a new partnership with the Association for the Understanding of Artificial Intelligence (, a non-profit organisation dedicated to connecting the AI community to the public by providing free, high-quality information on AI research and innovation. CLAIRE joins six leading global scientific organisations in AI (AAAI, NeurIPS, IMLS, AIJ/IJCAI, ACM SIGAI and RoboCup) in officially supporting AIhub. CLAIRE and AIhub will be working together in order to bring high-quality information on human-centred AI research, and particularly on AI for Good and AI for All, to a broad audience.

  1. Taskforces and initiatives 

CLAIRE has grown into a large organisation with many offices and a sizable support team. We are also seriously engaged in an increasingly broad palette of activities, ranging from interaction and joint work with the European Commission to topical work on applications of AI related to space or the COVID-19 pandemic and mechanisms for effectively supporting AI-based innovation in industry. To better structure this work, in February 2020, the CLAIRE extended core team decided to create a number of taskforces, each with a specific focus and mission. Here, we will give a brief overview of several of these newly formed working groups.

On 20 March 2020, CLAIRE launched its Taskforce “COVID-19”, to support activities by public health authorities, medical services and governments in their efforts to tackle the societal and economical challenges generated by the pandemic (see Since its establishment, the task force has organised a large-scale volunteer effort involving more than 150 AI researchers throughout Europe that are now working in seven topic groups: mobility and monitoring data analysis; bioinformatics; medical image analysis; social dynamics and networks monitoring; robotics; and scheduling & resource management. These groups collected and curated resources to leverage AI techniques in the context of COVID-19 and support the development of new projects in several application areas; more information can be found at

Taskforce “Communications & Outreach”, led by CLAIRE core team member, Holger Hoos, has ramped up CLAIRE’s communications and outreach activities, in collaboration with other organisations (see also items 6 and 10 of this update), and communications expertise within the team. The strategic work of this task force is crucial for a broad public perception of CLAIRE’s core values, activities and people, in both mainstream and social media. This taskforce is aiming to align the brand and communication strategy from within to reflect a consistent brand representation throughout all aspects of communication: brand alignment across all communications materials; visual storytelling of CLAIRE’s core values, activities and people; community and network shaping through consistent communication efforts addressing all our stakeholders; and event management for special events (online/live) for members, supporters and the general public.

Over the past few months, Taskforce “White Paper Response”, led by extended core team member Fredrik Heintz from Linköping University (SE) and Jeroen van den Hoven from Delft University of Technology (NL), has coordinated work on CLAIRE’s official response to the European Commission’s white paper on AI, much of which aligns well with the CLAIRE vision for European excellence in human-centred AI (see Based on input from CLAIRE’s International Advisory Board and the CLAIRE membership at large, the task force finalised and released CLAIRE’s official response, which prominently includes ten key recommendations to the European Commission (see

Taskforce “Industry”, established in April 2020 and led by CLAIRE core team member, Philipp Slusallek, and extended core team member, Fredrik Heintz, is working on activities involving CLAIRE’s for-profit members (companies, legal entities, and groups or units within these companies that develop or use Artificial Intelligence methods or technologies). The goal is to complement, in the very near future, the CLAIRE Research Network with a similar community of commercial companies, start-ups and entrepreneurs – the CLAIRE Innovation Network. This is important, because to realise CLAIRE’s ambitious vision for European excellence in AI, strong links are required between AI research and innovation, between academia and industry across Europe, and close interaction between CLAIRE’s Research and Innovation Networks will facilitate these links and the exciting projects enabled by them.

  1. Nordic AI young researcher symposium series

This new series of events has just received 5-year funding from the Research Council of Norway. Organised by CLAIRE and NORA, the Norwegian Artificial Intelligence Research Consortium, each annual symposium will bring together around 200 PhD students, postdocs and early-stage researchers in basic and applied AI, to learn about new ideas, methods and theories within AI, as well as build a professional network at the national and international level. We see bringing together the AI research environments of Northern Europe as an important step for the European AI community and for CLAIRE. We aim at using the symposium series as a blueprint for organising similar events at the European level. After the original launch, planned for 2020, had to be moved because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the first edition of the symposium is now planned for 13 and 14 October 2021.

  1. Work on the EU Public-Private Partnership on AI, Data and Robotics

In May 2019, the European Commission invited CLAIRE and four other organisations to contribute to develop the strategy, organisation and platform for a public-private partnership in AI, Data and Robotics. Since then, a CLAIRE taskforce, led by core team member, Morten Irgens, has been working with the European Commission and the other partners organisations – the Big Data Value Association (BDVA), euRobotics, the European Laboratory for Learning and Intelligent Systems (ELLIS) and the European Association for Artificial Intelligence (EurAI) – towards establishing this PPP.

The PPP aims to strengthen the European innovation ecosystem by stimulating the commercial sector and by increasing its collaboration with universities and other sectors in AI and closely related areas. This is important, because of the key role AI plays in the global technology-driven knowledge economy. In addition, AI accelerates science and innovation, and thus creates a positive feedback loop for the knowledge economy. Europe therefore needs to increase its research and innovation in AI. The proposed PPP plays an important role in these efforts. CLAIRE’s involvement aims to ensure strong and close alignment of the PPP with the CLAIRE vision and strong links to the European AI research ecosystem and the CLAIRE community.

  1. New website, partnership for brand development and communications

Last, but certainly not least, CLAIRE is stepping up its communications and brand development activities this year. While content-driven work is at the heart of CLAIRE’s goals and activities, broad recognition as well as effective communication with its community and all stakeholders play a crucial role in realising the CLAIRE vision for European excellence in AI.

Within only two years since its public launch, CLAIRE has become a brand that is widely recognised across Europe and beyond. In order to increase its international visibility and public outreach, CLAIRE has recently initiated a collaboration with TERRITORY (, a leading international branding agency providing its clients with services ranging from data analysis, strategy and creation development to in-house production, distribution and marketing. TERRITORY, whose work is  focussed on brand communication that is honest, active and effective, has begun to assist CLAIRE in developing a brushed-up brand experience of CLAIRE’s public image as Europe’s leading AI alliance.

In this spirit, we are proud to launch our brand-new CLAIRE website as of today. TERRITORY has done a tremendous job over the last few weeks in restructuring the existing content and providing a modern and intuitive “look and feel”. We are very pleased with the results and grateful for the generous and professional support, which was donated as an in-kind contribution to CLAIRE.

CLAIRE is pleased to begin this new chapter with a targeted communication strategy from within, in order to reach as many Europeans as possible and to win them over to a common vision of artificial intelligence for Europe.