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December 2019


European Commission's workshop on AI testing and experimentation facilities for smart manufacturing



Member States, experts, companies, and Research and Technology Organisations (RTOs) meet in a workshop organized by DG CNECT on 16 January 2020 to discuss the characteristics of Artificial Intelligence (AI) Testing and Experimentation Facilities for Smart Manufacturing.

The introduction of state-of-the-art AI methods, algorithms, and applications to the market, requires a previous experimentation and testing of such technologies in real-world environments. Such requirement is crucial for making products market-ready while at the same time ensuring compliance with safety standards and security by design.

To optimise investment and avoid duplication of efforts, the Commission proposes a limited number of world-class, large-scale reference AI Testing and Experimentation Facilities , available to all actors across Europe. These testing facilities may include regulatory sandboxes (i.e. areas where regulation is limited or favourable to testing new products and services) in selected areas.

Efficiency and impact of AI Testing and Experimentation Facilities should be optimised to boost development, validation, and deployment of AI-based solutions for the benefit of Europe. The exact number and type/model of facilities should be adapted to the needs of the manufacturing sector, and can have different sizes and locations. One given facility could be a network of physical locations. The intention is to make economies of scale, but it does not exclude a certain number of similar sites either, for instance to guarantee easy access to all regions in Europe. The regulatory environment might also be a factor to select the location/number of facilities.

Click here for Background Information 

The workshop

Past exchanges with Member States in 2019 discussed:

  • the sectors for which Europe would potentially need world-class reference testing and experimentation facilities
  • the sectors for which Member States potentially agree to co-invest
  • the methodology to set priorities for 2021-2022


This resulted in a draft prioritisation of sectors and technologies reflected in a set of Draft Orientations . The next steps will be to refine the concepts and understand the needs and specificities of each sector. This will lead to a workprogramme aiming to maximise the impact of the Digital Europe Programme

This upcoming workshop aims to understand the needs and specificities of the manufacturing sector with respect to AI Testing and Experimentation Facilities, and to refine the concepts of such Facilities. The focus is on Reference testing and experimentation facilities of AI powered solutions or AI technologies, requiring major investments, and justifying central efforts to make economies of scale.
For this workshop, different types of participants are invited:

  • Experts in AI and/or manufacturing, bringing the relevant expertise for testing and experimenting state-of-the-art AI technologies and AI-powered solutions to address the needs from the manufacturing sector
  • Member States representatives, whether participating in the DEI (Digitising European Industry) AI high-level group who are working on the Coordinated Plan on AI, participating in the DEP Expert Group, or in charge of the manufacturing sector.


How to join the workshop

Experts who would like to participate to the workshop are asked to fill in a template and send their answers to the workshop organisers before 9 January 2020. A filled-in template, if agreed by the participant, will be published on this page, so that all participants can properly prepare for an efficient workshop. The template also asks a participant to indicate if they are willing to give a short introductory statement/presentation (10-15 minutes). The agenda of the workshop will be determined after January 9.

Register here.

Due to limited room capacities, priority will be given to Member State representatives and experts who provided valuable inputs via the template.

Workshop outline

  • 09.00-10.00: Registration and welcome coffee
  • 10.00-10.30: Welcoming remarks and scene-setting, by the European Commission
  • 10.30-10:45: Brief introduction on edge AI
  • 10.45-13.00: Short introductory statements on existing landscape, needs and impact, structure of the facility; followed by discussion
  • 13.00-14.00: Lunch break
  • 13:45-14:15: Internal discussion among Member States representatives (additional room )
  • 14.00-16.00: Short introductory statements on timing, funding, EU added value and ecosystem; followed by discussion
  • 16.00-16.15: Conclusions and next steps, by the European Commission




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