Mohamed bin Zayed University and IBM launch AI Center of Excellence

13 February 2023 3 min. read
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Abu Dhabi-based Mohamed bin Zayed University has launched a brand-new AI Center of Excellence – backed by the technology and consulting power of IBM.

Launched in 2019, the Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence (MBZUAI) bills itself as the first graduate level, research-based university in the world dedicated to AI. The academic institution offers Master of Science and PhD level programmes in key areas of AI – machine learning, computer vision, and natural language processing – while also providing executive education to leaders.

The newly launched AI Center of Excellence is part of MBZUAI’s ambition to operate at the forefront of the AI domain through continuous research and upskilling. The AI Center of Excellence also has an outward focus, supporting governments and businesses with improving the adoption of AI technology.

Mohamed bin Zayed University and IBM launch AI Center of Excellence

Sultan Al Jaber, the UAE’s Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology, said that the AI Center of Excellence will “develop AI solutions that work for the benefit of humanity”, pinpointing climate change, human capital skills building and economic resilience among the several key areas of focus.

In tandem with IBM

Driving the setup and growth of the AI Center of Excellence is IBM, which has been appointed MBZUAI’s strategic partner.

As part of the collaboration, joint research teams will work on the development of foundational AI models in line with the center’s agenda. “IBM’s collaboration with MBZUAI will leverage AI to address some of the most pressing issues of our time,” said Arvind Krishna, IBM Chairman and CEO.

At the top of the list of priorities is sustainability. “The AI Center of Excellence will focus on decarbonization, with advanced research into climate change mitigation and adaptation. AI models can drive carbon neutral solutions to existing energy supplies, help better combat climate change, and inform the deployment of clean and renewable energy in the electrification of multiple sectors across the economy,” stated MBZUAI and IBM in a joint press release.

“The only way to net zero is through disruptive technologies and innovations that fundamentally re-program our energy production and consumption – harnessing big data to help drive more effective decision making and problem solving,” said Al Jaber, who has been appointed Chairman of MBZUAI.

Meanwhile, the AI Center of Excellence will also work to improve natural language processing for Arabic dialects, making AI more accessible and flexible for Arabic speakers. “This will help to address civic, social, and business challenges, while providing real-life applications such as personalised customer care, AI-powered assistants, improved search, and fraud detection, to name a few,” explained Al Jaber.

To power the center, MBZUAI faculty and students will work closely with IBM researchers and consultants with deep expertise in the artificial intelligence domain.

Through its so-called SkillsBuild platform, IBM will provide MBZUAI students and faculty with access to tools, software, courseware and cloud accounts for teaching, learning, and non-commercial research. In addition, MBZUAI will have access to curated AI curricula, lectures, labs, industry use cases, design-thinking sessions, and an AI Practitioner certification.

The AI promise

The launch takes place against a backdrop of major promise surrounding artificial intelligence. According to one estimate, the technology could contribute nearly $16 trillion to the global economy by 2030.

Acknowledging AI’s importance, the UAE has developed its own ‘National Artificial Intelligence Strategy 2031’, a roadmap to ensure that the UAE is well-positioned to flourish in the bustling AI ecosystem. Notably, the UAE became the world’s first country to appoint a Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence.

In 2022, the Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence was named one of the world’s leading universities in the area of machine learning, computer vision, and natural language processing.