Five years of Cyber Valley

December 15, 2021

AI research consortium celebrates anniversary

December is a special month for Cyber Valley: five years ago, the research consortium was founded in the Stuttgart-Tübingen region. As an internationally renowned hotspot for artificial intelligence (AI), Cyber Valley has successfully grown in the areas of research and innovation in recent years. New professorships have been created within the ecosystem, research groups have been founded, and a start-up and investor network have been established.

“I warmly congratulate Cyber Valley on its fifth anniversary and I am delighted that the University of Stuttgart has been involved in Cyber Valley as a partner from academia since its inception. Artificial intelligence and robotics are among the most important research areas of the future,” said Professor Wolfram Ressel, Rector of the University of Stuttgart. “The University of Stuttgart is therefore focusing on these areas and devoting both teaching and research to topics such as nanorobots for medicine, safer software systems, autonomous learning machines and fair decisive artificial intelligence. With intelligent systems, the University of Stuttgart is committed to a sustainable society, and with its recent focus on ‘intelligent robotics’, it helps Stuttgart’s AI location to fully develop its potential in the Cyber Valley research consortium.”

On the occasion of the fifth anniversary of the official kick-off by Baden-Württemberg’s Minister-President Winfried Kretschmann, the state’s Science Minister Theresia Bauer, the President of the Max Planck Society Martin Stratmann and the other project participants on December 15, 2016, Cyber Valley hosted a special edition of its online event format “Entrepreneurship Series” on Wednesday. After welcoming remarks by Kretschmann and Bauer, keynote speeches on “Igniting the potential of AI” were given by Michael Pfeiffer, Global Head of AI Research at the Bosch Center for Artificial Intelligence, and Michael J. Black, Cyber Valley speaker and Director at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems (MPI-IS) in Tübingen, among others.

“When I think about how it all started, you can say, in a way, Cyber Valley is a start-up itself. At least it was one five years ago,” said Minister-President Kretschmann. “Today, Cyber Valley enjoys respect in Baden-Württemberg, Germany and abroad. The publications of its researchers have vaulted Cyber Valley to the top of the relevant rankings. The federal and state governments regard Cyber Valley as a jewel and make every effort to promote it. Cyber Valley has earned a very important status: as one of the places in our country where the future is happening. I think, for a fifth anniversary, that’s not a bad record. In that spirit, keep up the good work. Happy birthday!”

“The first phase of Cyber Valley has been primarily about laying the foundations for a thriving AI ecosystem. Scientific excellence and strong support for young scientists form the foundation for this. If you look at Germany today and seek software engineers, there is no better market than the Stuttgart-Tübingen region. The amount of talent here is immense. The quality of life is good, the infrastructure is good, so it’s easy to attract people to the region,” Black said. “We’ve also built a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship, and that’s what we’re pushing now: the next phase of Cyber Valley. It’s about spinning off companies, nurturing them, helping them grow, and making this region in Germany – and hopefully across Europe – the one where you start the next AI company.”

The state of Baden-Württemberg has invested around 180 million euros in Cyber Valley so far. Added to this are the investments of the research partners – these are the Max Planck Society and the Universities of Stuttgart and Tübingen – in new research buildings, chairs, the International Max Planck Research School for Intelligent Systems (IMPRS-IS) graduate school and nine new Cyber Valley research groups to date. The industry partners support the research groups at MPI-IS and the universities of Stuttgart and Tübingen with a total of 7.5 million euros from 2018 to 2022. In addition, two endowed professorships will be funded by the industry partners: a chair for machine learning in Tübingen, funded by Robert Bosch GmbH, and a chair of entrepreneurship in technology and digitization, endowed by the Daimler Fund in the Stifterverband.

Last year, the federal and state governments also decided to perpetuate the AI competence centers, securing permanent funding for the Tübingen AI Center as one of these competence centers. The state of Baden-Württemberg is already expanding the center, strengthening it with a coding school that teaches practical skills in programming. In addition, the Hector Foundations have pledged 100 million euros over at least ten years to support the establishment of an institute of the European Laboratory for Learning & Intelligent Systems (ELLIS).

“When we founded Cyber Valley five years ago, our goals were clear: Artificial intelligence is the technology of the future for all areas, science, business and all of our lives. This is where we must invest if we want to shape digitization. We therefore proceeded quickly, decisively and strategically,” said Theresia Bauer, Baden-Württemberg’s Science Minister. “Cyber Valley benefits from an excellent environment – medicine in Tübingen, engineering sciences as well as high-performance computing in Stuttgart to leading companies, such as Amazon or Bosch, which have set up shop directly on campus. The state of Baden-Württemberg is very proud to have jointly created a shining signal for AI ‘made in the Länd’ with Cyber Valley. Congratulations on the fifth anniversary!”

In addition to expanding scientific excellence in Stuttgart and Tübingen, Cyber Valley launched a start-up network in November 2019 to foster exchange between AI start-ups within the ecosystem. About two years after its launch, the network counts 30 members – just a few weeks ago, the research consortium’s Executive Board decided to admit the company Black Forest AI. The founding of the Cyber Valley Investor Network followed in September 2020, in which renowned venture capital firms from Germany, the U.S. and Japan engage as mentors for scientists within the Cyber Valley ecosystem, helping them turn research and business ideas into successful companies.

“Cyber Valley has become a globally visible location for artificial intelligence in just five years thanks to substantial funding from the federal government, the state and foundations, but also thanks to the investments of a growing number of companies,” said Professor Bernd Engler, President of the University of Tübingen. “The conditions are therefore in place to usher in the next phase of development of this AI research network, which is outstanding in its diversity and excellence. For this to succeed, it will be crucial to now press ahead very quickly with the expansion of the necessary infrastructure.”

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