BMBF funding for future cluster NeuroSys


Future cluster "NeuroSys - Neuromorphic Hardware for Autonomous Artificial Intelligence Systems" - funded by BMBF with up to 90 million euros

The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) has now published the winners of the "Clusters4Future" ideas competition. The BMBF is funding the research with up to 90 million euros. "Clusters4Future" is part of the German government's High-Tech Strategy 2025. The open-topic competition focuses on regional innovation networks that combine the strengths of the players, tap into emerging fields of innovation and develop solutions for the challenges of the future.

"NeuroSys – Neuromorphic Hardware for Autonomous Artificial Intelligence Systems"

In addition to RWTH, the Forschungszentrum Jülich, AMO GmbH, IHK Aachen, the companies AixACCT Systems GmbH, AIXTRON SE, AppTek GmbH, ELMOS Semiconductor SE, RWTH Innovation GmbH and STAR Healthcare Management are involved in NeuroSys. In addition, the start-ups AiXscale Photonics UG, Black Semiconductor GmbH, Clinomic GmbH and Gremse-IT GmbH are involved. Professor Max Lemme from the Chair of Electronic Components at RWTH and Managing Director of AMO GmbH will coordinate the work. From the Department of Computer Science at RWTH, Chairs i6 (Human Language Technology) and i13 (Computer Vision) take part in the NeuroSys cluster. The goal is the development of neuromorphic hardware for artificial intelligence applications and thus a technological independence for Germany and Europe. The Federal Ministry of Education and Research is providing up to 45 million euros for this purpose.

In Europe, there are only a few global corporations in the hardware and software sector. Technological independence is of strategic importance, as artificial intelligence will be the building block for the next global stage of development. However, not only future economic growth depends on this key technology, but also the management of major societal challenges such as climate change, health, work or mobility. At the same time, artificial intelligence (AI) brings new challenges. For example, training large neural networks based on modern graphics processing units (GPUs) with deep-learning methods causes high CO2 emissions, which further exacerbate the climate problem. GPU-based neural networks are therefore ecologically unsustainable.

Resource-saving neuromorphic hardware that makes neural networks more efficient and includes data security as a design component is therefore becoming the key to the widespread use of AI. This is especially true for areas of application in autonomous vehicles, medical technology and sensor networks for intelligent production or urban regions. Neuromorphic systems are modelled on the two basic building blocks of the human brain, the neurons and the synapses. By integrating new materials with specific properties, they can ideally perform resource-saving on-site processing of data by integrating new materials with certain properties. This is summarised under the keyword "memristive" - from the English "memory" for storage and "resistor" for electrical resistance.

Scientists at RWTH and Forschungszentrum Jülich have already been able to demonstrate the functionality of neuromorphic devices made of memristive materials. However, there are no pilot lines or production capacities worldwide for manufacturing or integrating neuromorphic chips on an industrial scale. Also, the system of hardware, design, algorithms and application-driven software must work together to exploit the major advantages of neuromorphic hardware. What is needed, therefore, is a paradigm shift with the opportunity to take a leading position in this new technology. NeuroSys wants to develop the decisive prerequisites here.

In addition to economic success, aspects such as the social benefits and ethics of artificial intelligence must be taken into account. These socio-economic framework conditions are essential for new technologies, especially with such a potential reach. They are therefore being researched in NeuroSys, also in order to develop recommendations for action for society and politics.

"The Future Cluster is a great opportunity for the Aachen-Jülich region, especially in connection with the structural change in the Rhenish Revier. We are stepping up to transfer excellent science into companies and start-ups in the region. Our vision is to set up a production line in the Aachen region. There, the co-integration of neuromorphic functions through new materials into conventional silicon technology will then take place" - Professor Lemme.

We also congratulate the Institute for Combustion Engines, since in addition to "NeuroSys", the seven funded clusters include the future cluster "Hydrogen", which will also be coordinated by RWTH Aachen University in the coming years. RWTH Aachen University and Forschungszentrum Jülich were applicants for the future cluster "Hydrogen". So far, 24 institutes of the two research institutions are involved, in addition to 47 industrial partners and 16 other organizations.

Source: Press release of RWTH Aachen University