USP has been chosen to partner with the new Engineering Research Center, which will start operating in 2020, with an investment of up to USD20 million in ten years (IBM Research Brazil Colloquium 2019 – photo: Elton Alisson / Agência FAPESP)
Published on 05/12/2021
Agência FAPESP – FAPESP and IBM have announced that they have chosen the University of São Paulo (USP) to host the new Engineering Research Center (ERC) in Artificial Intelligence, the most advanced of its kind in Brazil. The project was launched on October 4, 2019, during the IBM Research Brazil Colloquium, the main scientific event held by the company in the country. The 2019 event was subtitled “Avenues to AI in Brazil”.
The research center will focus on different areas, from natural resources, agribusiness and the environment to finance and health, with the aim of producing significant scientific advances. The center will also train AI researchers and professionals.
It will be part of Inova USP, the university’s innovation center on its São Paulo campus and will begin activities in 2020.
It will have funding for up to ten years, with FAPESP and IBM each investing up to USD500,000 per year to implement the program, which will be periodically evaluated. USP will invest up to USD1 million per year in the physical facilities, laboratories, teaching and technical staff, and administrators, among other cost items. The construction timetable and other details of the project will be specified in an agreement to be signed by the end of 2019.
Responses to the public call for proposals were analyzed with the aid of international experts who were jointly chosen by FAPESP and IBM. The criteria for the final choice included the appropriate composition of research and management teams and an original advanced research plan that was nationally and globally competitive.
The ERC in AI will be the first center in Latin America to belong to IBM’s AI Horizons Network (AIHN), established in 2016 to promote collaboration among leading universities, students and IBM researchers committed to accelerating the application of AI in some of the world’s major challenges, such as those involving healthcare, image recognition and processing, machine learning, natural language processing and related technologies.
“The creation of this center with USP is a very important milestone for research in Brazil and will enable us to have students, researchers and other professionals engaged in an area that has become increasingly strategic in the world and to pursue a joint scientific agenda aiming at significant advances,” said Ulisses Mello, Director of IBM Research Brazil. “We’ll also have a much richer exchange of ideas with researchers around the world, leading to more solutions to key problems simultaneously for science and the market, and producing excellent results.”
For Carlos Henrique de Brito Cruz, FAPESP’s Scientific Director, the collaboration will be effective and will extend far beyond the commissioning of research by IBM. “This is because IBM has a team of top-tier researchers in São Paulo, as well as researchers in other localities,” he said. “The plan presented by USP combines research at the knowledge frontier and of interest to IBM with the training of much needed human resources for Brazil’s development.”
According to Fabio Gagliardi Cozman, who heads the new ERC and is a professor at USP, the project aims to take research in AI to a higher level. “We want the center’s activities to help Brazil reach the frontier of this knowledge area by training professionals and entrepreneurs, while at the same time fueling the debate in society about how to use this technology in the most positive way possible,” he said.