Artificial Intelligence: French Billionaire Xavier Niel To Invest €200M On “European AI Champion”

September 26, 2023 | Artificial Intelligence, News

Xavier Niel: ‘It’s a question of sovereignty: to protect our data, we need platforms established on our territory.”

French billionaire Xavier Niel is embarking on a significant €200 million investment in artificial intelligence (AI), aiming to bolster European tech competitiveness against global giants like the US and China. This initiative, led by Niel’s telecoms group Iliad, encompasses various projects designed to advance AI capabilities in Europe.

One of the key projects involves establishing a cloud supercomputer powered by Nvidia (NASDAQ: NVDA). Additionally, a research center in Paris is on the horizon, as well as an annual AI conference hosted at Station F, Niel’s startup campus in the French capital. Niel emphasized the necessity of substantial investment in supercomputers to gain computing power, which, in turn, is vital for influencing the AI market.

Iliad, through its cloud computing subsidiary Scaleway, has been actively working to develop a European alternative to cloud services offered by prominent US tech companies. By enhancing this European cloud infrastructure with a supercomputer, Niel aims to create a European AI champion, prioritizing data sovereignty.

The geopolitical importance of AI development has come to the forefront as Europe strives to keep pace with substantial investments from the US and China in this emerging field. Niel envisions the research lab as a catalyst for a thriving French AI ecosystem that can rival industry leaders like Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT)-backed OpenAI. This vision involves tapping into the expertise of graduates from France’s top educational institutions.

The broader context includes substantial financial commitments to AI development in Europe, with both startups and governments investing heavily. This push for AI development in France aligns with European policymakers’ objectives to establish a presence in generative AI while simultaneously addressing regulatory concerns to avoid potential negative consequences witnessed in previous technological revolutions like social media.

Ultimately, Niel’s initiative aims to create not just a champion but an entire French AI ecosystem, underpinned by a dedicated AI research laboratory staffed with top-tier researchers to contribute to this transformative field.

Related Story:  Amazon To Invest Up To $4B In AI Startup Anthropic

Image Credit: Flickr

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