The building blocks for a competitive European AI

About the Event

09:00-13:00 (GMT+1)
19 March
The competition for global AI leadership is building up and just last week, the U.S. National Security Commission on Artifical Intelligence released its final report on their strategy to winning the artificial intelligence era. Across Europe companies, governments, research and accademic institutions are making AI investment a priority and putting in place their own approaches to dominate the technology and its deployment. Where does Europe currently fit in this global race ? What are the strengths and weaknesses of each country’s priorities? How do these national initiatives align with a pan-European strategy? Join us for a series of discussions and presentations from reprentatives of European national AI hubs, EU commission and the Belgian Government.

9:00 : The Vision by Nathanaël Ackerman.
9:05 :Keynote: United in Diversity - Thoughts on the "Future of AI made in Europe" by Prof. Holger Hoos.
9:30 : How countries use AI by Frank Leyman & Colin Van Noordt.
9:50 : The Tortoise Global AI Index by Alexandra Mousavizadeh.
10:10 : Discussion 1: Belgium Flanders Denmark France Luxembourg The Netherlands.
10:50 : Break
11:00 : Discussion 2: Belgium Wallonia Brussels Region Germany Sweden Switzerland.
11:40 : Keynote: The EU Vision by Cecile Huet.
11:50 : The making of a global AI leader: Europe
EU Commission Belgium Denmark France Hungary Luxembourg Netherlands Sweden Switzerland.
12:35 : Closing by Thomas Dermine, Cécile Huet, Nathanaël Ackerman

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Cécile Huet

Cécile Huet is Deputy Head of the Unit “Robotics and Artificial Intelligence Innovation and Excellence” at the European Commission. This unit funds and assists beneficial robotics and AI developments in Europe. Under Horizon 2020, the unit launched one of the world’s largest civilian programme in robotics with a budget of €700 million, supplemented by €2.1 billion from the European robotics industry in the context of the Robotics Public-Private Partnership.

This unit is also at the heart of the Communication on Artificial Intelligence for Europe, the Coordinated Plan on Artificial Intelligence , the Communication on Building Trust in Human-Centric Artificial Intelligence, and the ‘ecosystem of excellence’ of the White Paper on AI. This unit is also at the heart of the Communication on Artificial Intelligence for Europe, the Coordinated Plan on Artificial Intelligence , the Communication on Building Trust in Human-Centric Artificial Intelligence, and the ‘ecosystem of excellence’ of the White Paper on AI.

Cécile joined the unit in 2004. Previously, she worked for the industry in signal processing after a post-doc at the University of California Santa Barbara and a PhD at University of Nice Sophia Antipolis. In 2015, she has been selected as one of the “25 women in robotics you need to know about”.

Cecile huet

Nathanaël Ackerman

Nathanaël Ackerman is the current lead of the AI4Belgium coalition. He is “AI & Innovation expert” at the Federal Public Service Policy and Support (BoSa). Nathanaël has had a mixed public-private career: from research & teaching AI @ Université Libre de Bruxelles, to entrepreneurship.

He was involved in the technology transfer @ULB for several years. In 2012, he was appointed as Director for Innovation and International Relations @Brussels Enterprise Agency (now He created his own consultancy company and developed several data & ai business units in different companies.

More recently, Nathanael has been appointed as Advisor for Innovation and AI (to Secretary of State Axelle Lemaire) for the French Government. He leaded the #France IA  strategic plan. And then co-founded and managed the Hub France Artificielle for 2 years, before coming back to Belgium, his native country, to do quite the same job : contribute to the national AI strategy, and implement it with the ecosystem. Nathanael is both graduated from Polytechnic School of Brussels, and Ecole Centrale Paris.

Prof. Holger H. Hoos

Holger H. Hoos is Professor of Machine Learning at Universiteit Leiden (the Netherlands) and Adjunct Professor of Computer Science at the University of British Columbia (Canada). He is a Fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), Fellow of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI), Fellow of the European AI Association (EurAI), past president of the Canadian Association for Artificial Intelligence and one of the initiators of CLAIRE, an initiative by the European AI community that seeks to strengthen European excellence in AI research and innovation (

He also leads the ICT-48 VISION coordination mandate for the newly created European networks of centres of excellence in AI. Holger is well known for his work across a broad range of topics in artificial intelligence, notably on the automated design of high-performance algorithms; is is one of the originators of the concept of automated machine learning (AutoML).

Holger Hoos

Frank Leyman

Frank Leyman holds a Master degree in Marketing and in Applied Economics from the University of Mons in Belgium. He started his career with IBM Belgium in the telecom division. After 6 years he joined the Belgian National Telecom operator BELGACOM where he was in charge of setting up the Corporate Services Sector. After 3 years he was appointed as Distribution Channels Director for the Belgacom Group. In 1999 he left Belgacom for a more international career by joining the company PROTON WORLD. This company is specialized in large scale smartcard based projects.

He has been in charge of business development in the Middle-East and African Region and has co-developed the complete Government offering. Since mid-2005 he works for FEDICT (now called the Digital Transformation Office within the Federal Public Service Policy & Support (BOSA)) where he heads International Relations as well as the relations with European Commission, OECD and the World Bank. He is the Past Chairman of the International Council for IT in Government Administration (ICA), he is a member of the TEG (Technical Expert Group) of the World Bank, he is member of the OECD e-Leaders and is the Belgian representative in the eGovernment High Level Group and CIO group of the European Commission. He is a regular speaker at conferences and universities around the world.


Colin Van Noordt

 Colin van Noordt is a PhD Researcher at the Ragnar Nurkse Department of Innovation and Governance at Tallinn University of Technology (TalTech), in Estonia. He is working as an External Expert for the European Commission’s AI Watch team, where he is contributing to the research activities on the use of AI within public services. He is co-author of the AI Watch Artificial Intelligence in public services report from the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre.He was also part of the expert group of the study on Exploring Digital Government Transformation (DigiGOV) and is involved in various other European research activities such as the ISA2’s Innovative Public Services study.

Before his current research activities, he graduated magna cum laude from the joint-master degree in Public Sector Innovation and eGovernance at the University of Leuven, the University of Münster and TalTech. During his studies, he assisted the organisation of the high-level conference Tallinn Digital Summit in both 2018 and 2019 and was a Visiting Researcher at the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre Seville.


Mads Nielsen

Mads Nielsen is professor in AI and Image Analysis at the Department of Computer Science, University of Copenhagen, co-founder of the companies Biomediq A/S and Cerebriu A/S. He is also Member of ELLIS Unit Copenhagen Faculty, Head of AI in the National Danish Research Center DIREC and member of a number of boards and steering committees including AI Denmark, University of Copenhagen’s SCIENCE AI Center and Chair of the AI group, Finish Academy of Science. He has done research in the mathematical foundation of image analysis, computer vision, medical image analysis, and the foundation of quantitative imaging biomarkers and their use in epidemiology. Including recent work on AI that can predict, based on disease history and health data, how badly people will be affected by COVID-19.

mads nielsen

Sabine Demey

Sabine Demey is the director of the ambitious Flemish AI Research Programme. She coordinates the research activities of the ten research partners (Flemish universities and (strategic) research centres). In her opinion, technological evolutions such as AI should result in positive impacts on the society and the economy. AIready during her studies she became very acquainted with AI in its various shapes as she obtained her PhD in robotics.

 Sabine accumulated an extensive industrial experience in various research and business activities, including 3D printing applications in the health sector and software for industry 4.0. For many of these activities, AI was an important technology.

Photo de Sabine Demey

Thomas Dermine

Thomas Dermine, born on 1 May 1986 in Charleroi, is a French-speaking Belgian economist and politician who is a member of the Socialist Party (SP). He holds a degree in management engineering (Solvay) and political science (ULB), and a master’s degree in public policy from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government in Boston. Thomas worked until early 2016 as a consultant at McKinsey in several countries and joined the Kamet Ventures start-up incubator in London working on technological innovation projects.

In early 2017, Thomas returns to Charleroi to work on the Catch plan, aimed at accelerating job creation in the Charleroi region following several industrial restructurings. On this occasion, he was awarded the title of “Walloon of the Year 2018”. In 2019, he becomes Director of the Institut Emile Vandervelde, the Study Centre of the SP. On 1 October 2020, Thomas was appointed Secretary of State for Economic Recovery and Strategic Investments in charge of Science Policy. He is responsible for steering the coordination of the Belgian Recovery Plan and ensuring close cooperation between the European Commission and Belgium. In parallel, Thomas also supervises the Federal Science Policy, including 10 federal scientific establishments.

Thomas Dermine, responsable du plan Catch visant au redeploiement economique de la region de Charleroi

Alexandra Mousavizadeh

Alexandra Mousavizadeh​ is a Partner at Tortoise Media, the slow-news media company founded by James Harding launched in April 2019. Alexandra is the Director of the Tortoise Intelligence team which specialises in global and industry indices and data analytics. Creator of the groundbreaking Global AI Index launched in December 2019, and the recently released Responsibility 100 Index. She has 20 years’ experience in the ratings and index business and has worked extensively across Central Asia, the Middle East and Africa. Previously, she directed the expansion of the Legatum Institute’s flagship publication, The Prosperity Index, and all its bespoke metrics based analysis & policy design for governments. Prior roles include Sovereign Analyst for Moody’s with specific focus on Russia, Kazakhstan, Georgia and Armenia from 1995 – 2007. From 2013-14 she also covered Sub-Saharan Africa. Alexandra became head of Country Risk Management, EMEA, Morgan Stanley’s London office prior to taking up the role as CEO of ARC Ratings, a global emerging markets based ratings agency. She holds a degree in Economics and mathematics from the University of Copenhagen. 


David Fitze

Andy Fitze, digital cognitive strategist, top global AI and digital transformation advisor for start-ups and enterprise boards, tactical leader, and an AI influencer. With Dalith Steiger, Andy is the co-founder of the award-winning start-up SwissCognitive, and the CognitiveValley Foundation. He is president of the Swiss IT Leadership Forum, member of the Board of Directors of ICTSwitzerland and SwissICT, and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Service Management Partners. Andy is a lecturer and Member of the Strategic Advisory Board at Bern University of Applied Sciences. To share his 30 years of extensive knowledge and experience, he is often seen on global stages. He is also a passionate skipper on the oceans – providing him with a great balance for head and soul.

Andy Fitze

Dalith Steiger

Dalith Steiger, co-founder of the award-winning start-up SwissCognitive – The Global AI Hub, and CognitiveValley – “The Swiss AI Movement”, was born in Israel and grew up in Switzerland. She is a global AI advisor and speaker, sharing her extensive knowledge and experience in the field of AI around the world. She is also CEO of the Swiss IT Leadership Forum, and Member of the Advisory Council of Dalith sits in the jury of the Digital Economy Award as well as the START Hack, she is an advisor at Kickstart Innovation, a mentor at the Founder Institute, and teaches AI & Machine Learning in a CAS module at the Applied University of Luzern. Besides her drive for cognitive technologies, she is also a loving mother of two teenage girls, a passionate mountain biker and a big fan of high-heel shoes.

Dalith Steiger_Portrait

Hans De Canck

I have over 15 years of experience in innovation management in different roles at several Belgian research institutes (iMinds, imec, VITO). Prior to that I worked 5 years for a software start-up company. Currently I manage and direct the development of the AI Experience Center of the Vrije Universiteit Brussels (VUB). Several research centers from the Vrije Universiteit Brussel have joined forces to develop a multi-disciplinary Research and Innovation offering on AI towards Academia, Industry, Policy makers and the broader public. The AI Experience Center will accelerate the digital transformation of society. I act as a coordinating manager for the AI for the Common Good institute FARI ( launched by VUB rector Caroline Pauwels & ULB rector Annemie Schaus March 2021. In this context, I am also chairing the Belgian Office for CLAIRE ( in Brussels

Gaelle Pinson

Gaëlle Pinson joined the Hub France IA as General Manager two year ago, fully aligned with its ambition to develop a European AI model for business and society. She started her career in the Prime Ministers administration DATAR dedicated to spatial planning dealing with clusters and innovation policies. She was then responsible for the digital project of the new metro Grand Paris Express, with Minister Christian Blanc when the law was drafted, later in the implementation phase at Société du Grand Paris, where she initiated the data project. She also created a start-up on long time digital archiving based on glass. She is always keen in strongly promoting European projects.

Marloes Pomp

Marloes Pomp is the Initiator and Program Officer for the blockchain and AI projects within the Dutch Government, including projects in the field of digital identities, logistics, healthcare, finance and food. She is also responsible for the international strategy and partnerships of the Dutch Blockchain Coalition and the National AI Coalition. Both coalitions are a jointly developed partnership by government, industry and knowledge institutions. Together they have a leading role and joint responsibility for the success of the solving societal challenges and making a major contribution to new economic activities. Marloes also leads a three-year program with the aim to connect the Dutch and Singapore’s blockchain ecosystems and develop worldwide blockchain applications and services: Marloes her professional interests focus on tech-innovation within governments. Prior to the blockchain and AI activities, Marloes Pomp worked in several roles like projectleader and researcher at governmental organizations, including the ministry of Interior and Kingdom Relations and the city of Amsterdam. In addition, she serves as an advisory member for the SIDN Fund, the Dutch Court, The Blockchain and the Society Board of the University of Amsterdam (VU).

Marceline du Prie

Marceline du Prie Trained as a lawyer at Leiden University she started her carrier in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands. After 3 years she moved to the Ministry of Economic Affairs to focus on European research, technology and innovation and on the implementation of the European Framework Programme. She has been High Level Representative for the Netherlands in the EUREKA programme and head of the Eureka Chairmanship between 2004 and 2005. In 2006 she moved to Brussels to become Director European Affairs for the Technical University Delft and Special Advisor to the Board on EU/RTD related issues. She is board member of the K4 Innovation network and has been very active in Brussels in several deep tech dossiers for TU Delft such as quantum technology, synthetic cell and more recently in artificial intelligence. Since 2020 she is the EU-liaison for the Netherlands AI-Coalition. Marceline also has an entrepreneurial background as co-founder of the ayurvedic cosmetics company “Pure Natural” in 2006. She is married and mother of 4 children.
Marceline du Prie

Maarten de Rijke

Maarten de Rijke is Distinguished University Professor of Artificial Intelligence and Information Retrieval at the University of Amsterdam. He is VP Personalization and Relevance and Senior Research Fellow at Ahold Delhaize. His research strives to build intelligent technology to connect people to information. His team pushes the frontiers of search engines, recommender systems and conversational assistants. They also investigate the influence of the technology they develop on society. De Rijke is the director of the Innovation Center for Artificial Intelligence (ICAI), a national network aimed at technology and talent development between knowledge institutes, industry, and government in the area of AI.
Maarten de Rijke

Martin Svenson

Martin Svensson is Co-Director of AI Sweden, a national centre for AI-related research and innovation with the aim to accelerate the use of artificial intelligence in both private and public sector. AI Sweden gathers a wide range of national and international partners representing industry, public sector, academia and research institutes, and drives development through collaboration, knowledge and data sharing. Martin has more 20 years of experience of international work in several sectors, including automotive, telecom and biotech.
Martin. Lindholmen

Benoit Macq

Web site: (Head of Pixels and Interactions Lab at UCLouvain)
1994 – Full Professor, Signal Processing and Information Theory, UCLouvain, Belgium
2018 – 2019 Invited Professor, McGill
1999 Senior at MIT
1998-1998 Invited Professor, Telecom Paris Tech
1990-1991 Researcher at Philips Research Laboratories
2009 Member of the Royal
Academy of Science of Belgium
2007 Fellow member of the IEEE
1991 Bell Telephone MC Award H-index 58 on Scholar Google.
Supervisor of 57 PhD Thesis, 15 Post-docs, 200 Master Thesis, leading to 13 academic career and 13 start-up companies
Benoit Macq

Frauke Goll

Dr. Frauke Goll studied Technical oriented Business Administration at the University Stuttgart and did her PhD at the Graduate School of Excellence advanced Manufacturing Engineering (GSaME). She gained practical experience by working for different companies of the automotive sector as well as the e-mobil BW, State Agency for New Mobility Solutions and Automotive. Today Frauke Goll is Division Manager Innovation, Strategy and Transfer at the FZI Research Center for Information Technology as well as Manager of DIZ I Digital Innovation Center. DIZ is a joint venture between FZI and CyberForum and coordinates for example the Digital Hub Artificial Intelligence Karlsruhe.
Bild_Frauke Goll_klein


Joanna Gordon

Joanna is the founder of JG Consulting, a strategic marketing boutique consultancy that advises companies on how to build their international footprint. She has worked with the management teams of Fortune 1000 companies to develop their World Economic Forum engagement strategy and to map key issues relevant to each company and executives. In 2017 she launched Transform.AI, a by invitation only conference in Europe focused on the business implications of Artificial Intelligence.

Past editions brought together 150 senior business leaders – CEOs, chief strategy officers, chief operating officers, chief marketing officers, chief financial officers – and leading AI experts to explore the ways AI will transform the way companies operate, disrupt industries as well as impact society. Prior to starting JG Consulting, she served as director of Enterprise Strategy at Salesforce and prior to that was head of the Information Technology Industry at the World Economic Forum.

Joanna Gordon

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