Unbabel leads €78M consortium to invest in Responsible AI

LISBON. November 2022 – A consortium of AI startups and research centers led by Unbabel, the AI-powered Language Operations (LangOps) platform that helps businesses deliver a multilingual customer experience (CX) at scale, announces that it will invest €78 million in the creation of a Center for Responsible AI. The investment, announced during Web Summit, aims to position Portugal as a global leader in technologies, principles, and regulation in Responsible AI.

The Center is expected to have an impact on the Portuguese economy of €250 million in exports by 2030, resulting from the development of 21 new AI products. In addition, it will create more than 210 highly qualified jobs and award 132 advanced academic degrees, namely, Master’s and Ph.D. degrees.

The consortium, which came together to enforce these goals, includes two unicorns and is made up of eleven startups (Unbabel, Feedzai, Sword Health, Apres, Automaise, Emotai, NeuralShift, Priberam, Visor. ai, YData, and YooniK), eight research centers from Lisbon, Porto, and Coimbra (Champalimaud Foundation, CISUC, FEUP, Fraunhofer Portugal AICOS, INESC-ID, IST, IST-ID/ISR and IT), a law firm (Vieira de Almeida), and five industry leaders in life sciences, tourism, and retail (BIAL, Centro Hospitalar de São João, Luz Saúde, Grupo Pestana and SONAE).

“We are creating what is the largest Center for Responsible AI in the world,” said Paulo Dimas, Unbabel’s Vice-President of Innovation. “In it, we will develop a virtuous circle between startups and advanced AI research centers, creating next-generation AI products and positioning Portugal at the global forefront of Artificial Intelligence. It was a huge privilege for us to be able to lead this consortium, where we join some of the brightest minds in Portugal inventing the future of Artificial Intelligence.”

“The Responsible AI Consortium represents a unique level of collaboration at the national and international levels. All of these partners have come together to collaboratively develop new forms of more responsible Artificial Intelligence – meaning AI that is less biased, more explainable, more efficient, and environmentally friendly,” said Pedro Bizarro, Co-Founder and Chief Science Officer of Feedzai. “With a budget for training 132 more master’s and PhDs, and with application and impact in several industries, this is a unique project worldwide and one that fills me with pride to participate in.” “The consortium will allow BIAL to bring its challenges in Artificial Intelligence to a universe of startups and advanced research centers, creating unique synergies that will allow us to compete globally in AI, accelerating the discovery and development of new medicines,” said António Portela, CEO of BIAL, the biggest pharma company in Portugal.

At the heart of this investment is the concept of Responsible AI, a term that reflects the development of fair AI systems that reduce bias and the negative impact of technology for discriminated groups. Responsible AI technologies will also make it possible to solve challenges hitherto impossible for AI given the risks involved. For example, ensuring there are fewer translated errors in clinical content can reduce the risk to human lives and contribute to speedier clinical trials of vaccines. This will be one of 21 innovative AI products that will be developed by the consortium.

The Center for Responsible AI will be funded with the support of the Portuguese Recovery and Resilience Program, EU’s pandemic recovery initiative.

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