- Collaboration has long been key to scientific discovery and innovation, in both academia and industry.
- The Stick to Science campaign is calling for there to be an association agreement struck with Switzerland and the UK over Horizon Europe.
- Such a deal would help create an open, inclusive and excellence-driven research environment across the continent, it argues.
Science knows no borders. It may sound obvious, perhaps even clichéd, but this mantra is something that must be remembered in ongoing political negotiations over Horizon Europe, which could see Switzerland and the UK excluded from EU research projects.
We need more, not fewer, researchers collaborating to solve today’s and tomorrow’s challenges. By closely working with Swiss and British researchers, who have long played key roles, Horizon Europe projects will benefit – as they have in the past.
This is the motivation behind ETH Zurich, which collaborates with IBM Research on nanotechnology, leading the Stick to Science campaign. This calls on all three parties – Switzerland, the UK and the EU – to try and solve the current stalemate and put Swiss and British association agreements in place.
Stick to Science campaign calls for collaboration
More than 240 prominent scientists have already publicly weighed in as ‘first signatories’ in support of the initiative. This includes 12 Nobel prize winners; three Fields medal winners; and prominent figures such as former EU commissioner and ex-director general of the World Trade Organization, Pascal Lamy.
Former director-general of DG Research and Innovation at the European Commission and key architect of Horizon 2020, Robert-Jan Smits, and renowned mathematician and French politician, Professor Cedric Villani, have also signed.
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Here at IBM Research, we have always promoted and encouraged collaboration – and now more than ever with our Discovery Accelerators being launched around the globe, as part of our overarching strategy dubbed 'Accelerated Discovery'.
'Hard tech' used to develop new materials
These Discovery Accelerators are hubs whose purpose is to make available and to integrate breakthroughs in what we call ‘hard tech’ – quantum computing, artificial intelligence (AI), hybrid cloud and high-performance computing.
The idea is to foster quantum and AI ecosystems to develop new materials faster. We need these now more than ever, to create drugs in light of outbreaks like the COVID-19 pandemic; to store energy more efficiently; to feed the world’s surging population; and so much more.
And our chances of successfully addressing all these global challenges increase greatly when we work together, in open collaborations – in a spirit akin to the motivation that has always underpinned Horizon Europe.
Initiatives boost new innovation
Our latest Discovery Accelerator has just been launched in Canada, with an IBM Quantum System One computer deployed in Bromont, Quebec. The initiative will give researchers from across Canada and beyond access to a wide range of AI models and high performance computing systems to explore how to faster discover new materials.
It’s our third quantum system installation and partnership, following those at Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute and Japan's Kawasaki Business Innovation Center. We also plan to build on-premises quantum systems at Ohio’s Cleveland Clinic and Yonsei University in Seoul.
And then there are Discovery Accelerators like the one at Hartree National Centre for Digital Innovation in the UK, which has given researchers access to IBM's quantum computers through the cloud, as well as access to commercial and emerging AI technologies.
Free flow of ideas key to innovation
All these Discovery Accelerators are rooted in collaboration and a free flow of ideas. We are changing the way we go about discovering new materials, traditionally created using a long and expensive trial and error process.
Identifying a new molecule this way often takes around a decade of research, and creating a material based on that molecule easily costs between $10 million and $100 million. But classical computing, AI and quantum computing are now replacing this cumbersome method.
It's no longer just theory. Our researchers have recently cut down the material discovery process to just months in Project Photoresist. With the help of AI and robotics systems they predicted, simulated, and tested a new photoacid generator – an important ingredient in semiconductor manufacturing. The scientists created the new material 100 times faster than using more traditional methods.
Traditional rivals team up on research
There are plenty of other good examples of industry-academic collaborations, but there should be more. Stanford University’s AI Lab works closely with a number of industry partners, including IBM Research, Google and Wells Fargo.
And when the COVID-19 pandemic struck, the US National Science Foundation, NASA, several US government agencies and national labs, universities and companies came to create the COVID-19 High Performance Computing Consortium.
How is the World Economic Forum ensuring the ethical development of artificial intelligence?
The World Economic Forum's Platform for Shaping the Future of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning brings together global stakeholders to accelerate the adoption of transparent and inclusive AI, so the technology can be deployed in a safe, ethical and responsible way.
- The Forum created a toolkit for human resources to promote positive and ethical human-centred use of AI for organizations, workers and society.
- From robotic toys and social media to the classroom and home, AI is part of life. By developing AI standards for children, the Forum is creating actionable guidelines to educate, empower and protect children and youth.
- The Forum is bringing together over 100 companies, governments, civil society organizations and academic institutions in the Global AI Action Alliance to accelerate the adoption of responsible AI in the global public interest.
- The Forum’s Empowering AI Leadership: AI C-Suite Toolkit provides practical tools to help companies better understand the ethical and business impact of their AI investment. The Model AI Governance Framework features responsible practices of leading companies from different sectors that organizations can adopt in a similar manner.
- In partnership with the UK government, the Forum created a set of procurement recommendations designed to unlock public-sector adoption of responsible AI.
- The Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution Rwanda is promoting the adoption of new technologies in the country, driving innovation on data policy and AI – particularly in healthcare.
Contact us for more information on how to get involved.
The project saw companies who were traditional rivals – such as Amazon Web Services, Google, IBM, Microsoft and Intel, among others – partnering with members of different fields to accelerate research in ways to end the pandemic.
Working together imperative for progress
Again, the most important message here is collaboration. Be it between industry and academia or multiple global partners, working together is imperative for progress.
We urge the EU, Switzerland and the UK to quickly put in place association agreements so that these two leading research countries can once again contribute scientifically and financially to the strength of Horizon Europe, and to truly open, inclusive and excellence-driven research across the continent.