The year 2020 will forever continue to invoke memories of the Coronavirus Pandemic.

Author: Mark Minevich, Copyright by

SwissCognitive, AI, Artificial Intelligence, Bots, CDO, CIO, CI, Cognitive Computing, Deep Learning, IoT, Machine Learning, NLP, Robot, Virtual reality, learningNevertheless, 2020 will also be cemented into the history books as the digital inflection point that finally revealed to the world the significance of social innovation and the human-centric approach. In 2020, cross-industry AI adoption skyrocketed like never before, as people-oriented solutions became the sole focus and priority of technology entrepreneurs, enterprises and governments. These rapid advancements have undoubtedly spilled over into 2021, establishing it as the Year of AI-powered Social Innovation. Not only that, but forward looking EU countries––Denmark, Slovenia and Estonia in particular––have taken this slogan seriously. For long, the EU has been known as a global champion of social solutions aimed at improving the lives of citizens. However, the events of 2020 combined with massive public-private efforts and a mutual understanding of the need to innovate with AI for a better future ultimately propelled the EU to the top of the social innovation ladder and digital government.

The EU has launched a series of forward-thinking programs and funds that are geared towards social innovation and technology, such as Horizon Europe, InvestEU, the EU Programme for Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI) and European Social Fund (ESF), among many others. One of the most impressive efforts is the Horizon Europe program, which will run from 2021 to 2027. The EU Commission has allocated a proposed budget of €100 billion for the project, which will serve to advance research and innovation throughout the region. According to a document by the EU Commission, “Europe can shape its future through research and innovation by Focusing research and innovation on the ecological, social and economic transitions and related societal challenges, Leveraging Europe’s scientific strengths into leadership in breakthrough and disruptive innovation, Setting ambitious goals for issues that affect us daily, such as skills development, the fight against cancer, harmful emissions, and the state of the oceans, including plastics, and Focusing on cutting-edge research and innovation projects spanning from research and innovation to deployment.” In addition, under the preceding program, Horizon 2020, the EU Commission had already set out to increase its annual AI investments by 70%––prior funding that in conjunction with the present Horizon Europe initiative will truly shape the EU as a socially innovative AI powerhouse. 

In addition to Horizon Europe, InvestEU is another ambitious effort focused on catapulting the EU to the top of the AI Social Innovation ladder. According to the European Venture Philanthropy Association (EVPA), “Through the InvestEU Fund, the European Commission will provide an EU guarantee of €38 billion, divided over four windows which define the policy areas that InvestEU supports: Sustainable Infrastructure (€11.5 billion); Research, Innovation and Digitalization (€11.25 billion); Small and Medium Businesses (€11.25 billion), and Social Investment and Skills (€4 billion).” […] 

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