Keep an AI on France #4: Talents
As France is looking to consolidate its leading position on the AI market, an interesting initiative is taking place in the city of Nancy, with a collaboration between Microsoft France and Simplon, to create a network of free digital schools. Housed in the public hospital, this AI school will train 24 jobseekers, around the application of AI potentialities to the health system. This example fits into a wider picture of a strong AI strategy being implemented in France and could perhaps stand as an inspiration for other countries in the future.
Upgrading the AI talent pool in France
The AI field has suffered a lack of talents since its inception, and European companies are struggling to keep up with the demand. France has taken a proactive approach to the issue through a range of innovative programs, one of which we will highlight today.
The Nancy public hospital already has developed a strong digital approach in its activities and was looking to expand this approach to AI solutions. Through a partnership with private partners Microsoft France and Simplon, an AI school was set up, and 24 young professionals started working on concrete, hands-on solutions for some challenges that public hospitals are facing, such as the treatment of medical data or the improvement of the care pathway for example. The 7-months intensive formations, partly financed by the region, will be followed by a one-year professionalization contract for these professionals within local companies.
Thus, the program addresses the lack of AI skills in the eastern part of France. Due to its co-construction with local private actors, it is perfectly designed to meet the specific needs of the ecosystem. It is also the first AI school specifically focused on health issues, with the hope that it will be delivered high-value programs for patients and medical staff.
Read more: Keep an AI on France #1: Overview
France as a strong AI actor
One of the symbols of the strong AI presence in France is the inauguration in 2019 of the “Jean Zay” super calculator which has doubled the computing power available in France. The use of high-performance computing will be taken to the next level, which is very beneficial to the AI sector in the country. In general, according to a study from 2018 by Accenture country betting on a strong AI strategy will see growth. Specifically, for France, it could double the yearly economic growth by 2035.
The pipeline for AI talents trained in France is getting bigger, in accordance with the example discussed above. More than 120 institutions, engineering schools, and universities are offering training in the field. The partnership between Microsoft France and Simplon has produced over 13 courses, that are often supported by the local administration and economic ecosystem.
Finally, foreign investment in AI is booming in France, for example in 2018 Facebook announced that it will double its AI R&D laboratory staff by 2022 whereas Fujitsu has made its Paris site the center of its AI strategy. France is the second leading country for inbound FDI in Deeptech technology, a very strategic sector for the future of AI.
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