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AI Forum 2018: Artificial intelligence to boost European competitiveness

Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment
Publication date 13.9.2018 10.41
Press release

The AI Forum 2018 is an international conference for discussing how artificial intelligence (AI) can boost competitiveness and economic growth in Europe. It will take place at Aalto University’s main building Dipoli in Espoo on 8–9 October 2018. Information about the conference programme and speakers is available at

The conference brings together European ministers, business leaders and AI experts to discuss the future of AI in Europe. The AI Forum 2018 will be hosted by Finland’s Minister of Economic Affairs Mika Lintilä, Vice-President of the European Commission Jyrki Katainen and European Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society Mariya Gabriel. Some 200 people are expected to attend the invitation-only conference.

“Artificial intelligence is a key success factor for both Finland and Europe. The EU is currently drawing up its own common goals for AI, and the AI Forum 2018 will discuss what kinds of AI goals the EU needs. Finland is taking active strides to promote the use of AI, and we want to showcase our AI expertise at the EU level,” says Minister of Economic Affairs Mika Lintilä.

Panels to discuss Europe’s strengths

The second conference day, 9 October, will start with panel discussions around the theme of a European strategy for artificial intelligence. The panellists will be discussing how Europe’s strengths differ from those of other regions, such as China and the US. Another topic for discussion is how Europe can support AI-driven businesses.

Among the panellists will be Vice-President of the European Commission Jyrki Katainen, Chair of the Supervisory Board of Siemens and A.P. Moller-Maersk, Vice Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Allianz and Member of the Board of Trustees of World Economic Forum Jim Hagemann Snabe, founder and CEO of OKRA Technologies Loubna Bouarfa, Director of the McKinsey Global Institute Jacques Bughin, Co-founder of Zalando Robert Gentz and Chief Exploration Officer of Tencent David Wallerstein.

The panel discussions will be hosted by Ann Mettler, Head of the European Political Strategy Centre. The discussions will be streamed live. The language of the conference is English.

Skills, ethics and research also on the agenda

There will be also smaller group discussions during the conference where participants can share their views on AI. The topics will include skills development, algorithmic transparency, AI research, role of the public sector and the ethics of AI. Ministers and business leaders will also convene during the conference to discuss AI and competitiveness.

These discussions and meetings will be chaired by Professor Barry O’Sullivan from University College Cork, Professor Virginia Dignum from Umeå University, Head of the European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies (EGE) Jim Dratwa, CEO of Cargotec Mika Vehviläinen, Co-Founder and President of The Future Society Nicolas Miailhe, Adviser to the Minister of Artificial Intelligence of the United Arab Emirates Cyrus Hodes, Director of the Finnish Center for Artificial Intelligence Samuel Kaski and Member of the Boards at Daimler AG and Nokia Sari Baldauf. These discussions will not be streamed live.

AI Forum 2018 to contribute to EU preparatory work

Political leaders from over 20 countries in Europe and the neighbouring regions will be attending the conference. The High-Level Expert Group on Artificial Intelligence, appointed by the European Commission in June to support the preparations on the EU’s AI strategy, will also be present at the conference. The group is chaired by Pekka Ala-Pietilä, who also chairs Finland’s Artificial Intelligence Programme. Representatives of the Commission’s Digitizing European Industry initiative will also attend the event. 

The potential of AI will be included in the European Commission’s next five-year plan and in the EU’s forthcoming Multiannual Financial Framework 2021–2027. Discussions in the AI Forum 2018 will be contributing to this preparatory work. The AI Forum 2018 was initiated by Minister Lintilä, and it will even support the preparations for Finland’s EU Presidency in 2019.

The AI Forum 2018 is a collaboration of Finland’s Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment and the European Commission. Other contributors are Aalto University, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland and the Technology Industries of Finland. Follow the discussion on social media using the hashtag #aiforum2018.


Akseli Koskela, Adviser to the Minister of Economic Affairs, tel. +358 29 504 8267 (ministerial participation)
Nina Alatalo, Chief Specialist, tel. +358 29 504 7171 (EU co-operation)
Maikki Sipinen, Specialist, tel. +358 29 504 7013 (Content and Speakers of the Forum)
Jussi Nissilä, Head of Development, tel. +358 29 504 7052 (Finland's Program for Artificial Intelligence)

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