With developments in quantum technology and artificial intelligence (AI) predicted to have a major impact on research activities and society at large, the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation (KAW) has decided to award grants amounting to SEK 1.6 billion over the coming decade for research into these two key technological fields of the future.
“A constant aim throughout the 100-year history of the Foundation has been to fund basic research to drive the development of innovative technology that will contribute to Sweden’s long-term progress as a pioneering and industrial nation,” says Peter Wallenberg Jr, Chairman of the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation.
“The new Jubilee donation is continuing this tradition. Developments in the quantum and AI fields, often referred to as the fourth industrial revolution, may be as significant as the advent of electricity. In certain research and application fields, the areas of the technology that are already being used today are indispensable,” he continous.
The Wallenberg Centre for Quantum Technology (WACQT) will be establish and managed by Professor Per Delsing and hosted by the Chalmers University of Technology. The Foundation is granting SEK 600 million to the Center. The participating universities – Chalmers, KTH Royal Institute of Technology and Lund University – are contributing additional funding together with Swedish companies. With these funds, the Center will have funds of nearly SEK 1 billion.
“It is extremely pleasing that the Foundation is making this long-term investment. It will allow us to build broad competence in quantum technology in Sweden, and give us the opportunity to develop a Swedish quantum computer,” says Professor Per Delsing, Program Director at the new center.
Mathematics, machine learning and deep learning
The Wallenberg Autonomous Systems and Software Program (WASP), launched in 2015 and hosted by Linköping University, is receiving additional funding of SEK 1 billion to develop competence in key AI fields: machine learning, deep learning and mathematics. The participating universities (Linköping University, Chalmers University of Technology, KTH Royal institute of Technology, Lund and Umeå University) are contributing substantial additional funding together with Swedish companies. Fully operational the AI initiative will have received SEK 1.5 billion in funding of which SEK 1 billion from the Foundation.
Professor Danica Kragic (KTH) will lead the machine learning and deep learning research. Professor Johan Håstad (KTH) will head the AI-related mathematics research.
“Progress in AI has been clearly manifested in autonomous systems during the past few years. Examples are self-driving cars, Google Translate and medical expert systems that have amazed the world. The KAW grant gives Sweden an incredible opportunity to gain a fundamental understanding of these new systems, which are crucial for further development and exploitation of the innovative technology for Swedish society,” says Professor Lars Nielsen, Director of WASP.
Research schools and international recruiting
The quantum and AI technology initiative will focus primarily on developing long-term competence in these areas by building large research schools and recruiting young researchers from the rest of the world to Sweden. Funding will be provided to recruit and promote the development of approximately 200 new PhD students, and to recruit high-caliber personnel for up to 40 new research teams in Sweden.
“From my contacts with scientific and business communities in Sweden and abroad, it has been obvious for a while that quantum technology and AI will have a powerful impact on us in both the short and long term. Against this background, it is crucial to secure Sweden’s long-term competitiveness through comprehensive competence-building initiatives. I am convinced that an investment in educating researchers and recruiting young researchers will be a cornerstone for developing this expertise,” says Marcus Wallenberg, Vice Chairman of the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation.
“The development of technology can bring many benefits but also create new challenges. The Wallenberg Foundations will therefore fund studies to investigate how the introduction of these modern technologies will impact society,” he continues.
KAW initiated its 100th anniversary celebrations by making initial Jubilee donations to fund new initiatives in visualization technology at five Science Centers in Sweden, aiming to inspire young people and stimulate their interest in research.
“You could say that the two anniversary donations set the framework for the anniversary year. Both express in different ways the core activities of the Foundation: to fund research that can lead to both new discoveries and new tools to advance development, knowledge, and in the final analysis, society,” says Peter Wallenberg Jr.
More about the AI-initiative and WASP from Linköping University
Oscar Stege Unger, contact person for the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation
Phone: +46 (0)70-624 20 59
Per Delsing, Director of the Wallenberg Centre for Quantum Technology Program
Phone: +46 (0)31–772 33 17
Lars Nielsen, Director of the Wallenberg Autonomous Systems and Software Program
Phone: +46 (0)13–28 13 07
The Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation was established in 1917. The Foundation’s aim is to benefit Sweden by supporting Swedish basic research and education, mainly in medicine, technology and the natural sciences. This is achieved through grants to excellent researchers and to projects.
During the Foundation’s 100 years SEK 24 billion has been awarded in grants, of which SEK 1.7 billion yearly in recent years, to excellent research and education, making the Foundation the largest private funder of scientific research in Sweden and one of the largest in Europe.