ESFRI, the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures, has selected SoBigData to be part of the Roadmap 2021. This ambitious recognition given to the most important AI and big data research infrastructure in Europe lays the groundwork to receive the largest funding for a research consortium dedicated to improving artificial intelligence for social good. ESFRI ensures long-term sustainability to SoBigData RI and opens new opportunities to grow and establish itself more and more as a reference point for research in AI and big data, not only in Europe but worldwide. Indeed, SoBigData's goal is to become a world-leading institution in its field.
SoBigData has gained political support from Italy, Estonia, Switzerland, and Bulgaria. The Italian Ministry of Research and the Italian National Research Council (CNR), and ten other European entities have been granted financial support, while the consortium comprises 27 partners. The proposal focuses on creating a Central Hub in Italy with ten nodes in the following countries: Netherlands, Estonia, Switzerland, Finland, Sweden, Austria, Germany, France, Spain, and the United Kingdom. The overall cost of the ESFRI SoBigData RI is estimated at more than 150 million €, which includes both the build-up and operational phase. The preparation phase started in 2020, and the RI will be operative until 2050.
ESFRI has chosen AI as the next landmark technology to be developed in Europe. Big data analytics and AI are fundamental tools for sustainable socio-economic development, and all European countries are involved in the transformation that AI implies. In this context, for the SoBigData Research Infrastructure (RI) is a very successful result to become part of the ESFRI RoadMap 2021, considering that SoBigData is the only European RI that binds AI and Society.
The uniqueness of SoBigData is represented by its ability to connect heterogeneous scientific communities, such as data science and artificial intelligence. The ESFRI SoBigData RI, with its network of prestigious data science nodes, has the ambition and chance to become a strategic European resource worldwide in data-set, experiment and research skill, and computational resource sharing.
According to the coordinator of SoBigData RI from the National Research Council (CNR) of Italy "Our mission is to create a research infrastructure to support the analysis of Big Data and the development of artificial intelligence for the future of Europe, and at the same time guarantee the protection of the individual's privacy and promote ethical principles such as transparency and repeatability at every level of analysis. The entry into the ESFRI roadmap makes this goal more concrete and closer."