Founding and Operation of International AI Doctoral Academy (AIDA)

MoU Preamble

EC funded five ICT48 projects on AI:

  1.  AI4Media (AI for the Society and the Media Industry)
  2.  ELISE (fundamental research in AI, driven by machine learning)
  3. HumanE-AI-Net (scientific foundations and technological breakthroughs needed to build AI systems that enhance human intelligence rather than replacing it)
  4. TAILOR (trustworthy AI)
  5. VISION CSA (coordination between the new networks of centres of excellence in AI as well as with the European Commission)

with the objective of ensuring European strategic autonomy in such critical technology like AI, underpinning most of our future professional and private activities, with huge potential socio-economic impact, it is essential to reinforce and build on Europe’s assets in AI, including its world-class researcher community, in order to stay at the forefront of AI developments.

The set of networks will form a common resource and will become a shared facility, as a virtual laboratory offering access to knowledge and expertise and attracting talents. It should become a reference, creating an easy entry point to AI excellence in Europe, and should also be instrumental for its visibility. 

MoU Scope

Founding and Operation of International AI Doctoral Academy (AIDA) for offering access to knowledge and expertise and attracting PhD talents, operating like an umbrella organization for AI PhD and Postdoc studies and having significant industrial involvement.

AIDA objectives

  1. Coordination of the PhD/postdoc educational and training activities on AI of AIDA partners.
  2. Become a world-level reference for anything related to AI education (and research).
  3. Define mechanisms to create inter-university sharing of educational assets in the area of PhD-level AI.
  4. Envisage future efforts towards a charter for European universities to share, accredit, and recognise, PhD education credits in the area of AI.

AIDA Definitions and Governance

Founding Members: Universities in any of the ICT48 projects that initially sign this MoU.

Full Members: European Universities having PhD studies on AI that will be invited to and will sign this MoU (including Founding members).

Associate Members: International Universities having PhD studies on AI that will sign this MoU.

Research & Industry Members: Research Institutions or companies with AI activities that will be invited to and will sign this MoU.

Representatives: Representatives of any Member type must have a track record on AI research/education. Representatives of Full Members or Associate Members must be University Full/Associate/Assistant/Emeritus Professors that have a track record on AI research/education.

AIDA governance

General Assembly (GA): It is the highest AIDA governing body consisting of one representative of each full member.

Management Board: It consists of 5 Full Member Representatives and manages AIDA operations. It is elected by the GA for a 4-year term. The number of Management Board members may be changed by GA decision, but cannot be less than 3.

Coordinator: It is a Full Member hosting AIDA Management operations. It is elected by the General Assembly for a 4-year term.

Chair: She/he is the Coordinator Representative and chairs AIDA General Assembly, Management Board, and Research and Innovation Board.

Research and Innovation Board: It consists of international AI research and industry experts and advises AIDA on research and industrial innovation. It is elected by all AIDA Member Representatives of any type for a 4-year term, or less.

All 4-year terms synchronize with the one of the Management Board.

Sender: AIDA Member of any type sending its own staff to attend AIDA Education and Training activities.

Host: AIDA Member of any type organizing an AIDA Education and Training activity. A Host should be a Full Member or Associate Member, when it comes to courses to be credited.

Student: Primarily PhD students or postdoc researchers (but also qualified graduate students) belonging to any AIDA Sender.

General Assembly or Management Board can decide to create (or dissolve) special committees to work on any AIDA operation.

AIDA operations

AIDA management

Management, dissemination, book-keeping and reporting of AIDA activities and resources. Management rules and procedures will be decided by AIDA GA and should be compatible with Coordinator own and/or national rules and procedures. It will primarily be performed by the Coordinator.

AI Education and Training (ET) Activities

  • Creation of a joint AI education curriculum, possibly initially consisting of 4 education strands (one per ICT project).
  • Offer of graduate courses on AI by various AIDA members to MSc/PhD/Postdoc registrants, according to the rules and regulations of each AIDA member.
  • Offer of short courses, lecture series etc. on AI by various IADA members to MSc/PhD/Postdoc registrants.
  • Industry, research or academic secondments.
  • Offering AI vision: AI mellontology workshop and AI grand challenges.
  • “AI excellence” lecture series (by world known senior AI researchers)
  • “AI sprint” lecture series (by qualified postdocs and young researchers)
  • Provisions for students of other backgrounds (e.g., cognitive science or philosophy), also towards European AI branding.
  • “AI seniors”: qualified AI researchers that can act as an AI topic reference.
  • SoA overviews on AI topics (maintained by AI seniors)
  • AIDA itinerant lecture series over the world (“AI trobadours”)
  • AI workshops
  • AI event calendar

The above is a non-exhaustive list to be updated during AIDA operations. AI curriculum graduate and short course will always be on AIDA focus.

All partners of any type will participate in AI Education and Training activities.

Dissemination & Communication

The dissemination and communication will be done primarily through AIDA web portal www.i-aida.org to be managed by the Coordinator and social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn).

AIDA resources

AIDA resources come from its activities, funded R&D projects, but also from any other source, e.g., donations.

As a general rule, Senders (or their Students themselves) cover the costs for their participation in AIDA ET Activities. Hosts organize AIDA ET Activities and other AIDA operations and cover the related expenses using own rules and procedures. Exceptions to this general rule are allowed.

AIDA Management Board is responsible for approving the yearly budget of AIDA.

AIDA academic rules

A Student can register to become an AIDA Student through AIDA Coordinator, if he/she wishes to get credits for AIDA activities. All AIDA Full or Associate Members (Hosts) will be required to offer short/full graduate courses on fair own terms, open to all AIDA Students, and notify the Coordinator upon their successful completion. Course credits will be recognized to a Student according to the Sender partner rules. Students registered to AIDA will receive an AIDA Certificate of Course Attendance (CCA) (possibly also containing a Certificate of other AIDA ET Activities Attendance), which list of attended courses, NOT a degree after they get a minimal number of total credits (to be defined by AIDA GA or Management Board).  For the avoidance of doubt, the Student degree will always be delivered at the discretion of the corresponding University/Institution of original Student registration only, AIDA not being involved in this procedure in any way.

AIDA international cooperation

AIDA will seek active cooperation with any European, national and international entity engaged in AI activities of any type, notably with any national AI network within EC and with:

AIDA can act as an umbrella organization for promoting the activities of such entities and networks.

AIDA duration

AIDA will start operations once this MoU: a) is signed by at least 5 Founding Members and b) it is endorsed by at least 1 ICT48 project. Members/Associate members/Research&Industry members can adhere to this MoU by signing its copy, together with the Coordinator.  This MoU is valid for 5 years (2021-2026), which can be extended based on a decision of the AIDA GA.

AIDA Members of any Type are free to leave AIDA, after 6 months prior notice and, subject, to any outstanding course/activity evaluation that has been duly completed, in order to avoid any disadvantage to AIDA Students.

Special provisions during ICT48 project duration

During the period from AIDA start to 31/12/2024:

  1. AIDA organization, governance and activities must facilitate ICT48 projects fulfil their contractual AI education obligations.
  2. Representative of a Full Member/ Research&Industry member who also is ICT48 project partner should be a member of the respective ICT48 project team of this partner. Representative of an ICT48 project is a Full Member Representative elected by the respective ICT48 project.
  3. Eligible AIDA Management Board members to be voted by GA are Representatives of ICT48 projects. Members of AIDA Management Board are responsible for reporting AIDA activities and decisions to the ICT48 project they represent.
  4. AIDA resources will come primarily from the participating ICT48 projects, but also from any other source, e.g., donations.
  5. Coordinator for the first 4 year term will be the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki.
  6. All AIDA Education and Training activities by Hosts that are ICT48 project partners will be organized primarily at each ICT48 project level. Their promotion will be also done through AIDA www portal fed by ICT48 project www pages. AIDA will pay particular attention to graduate course/short course offers, promotion and execution.
  7. AIDA Full or Associate Members will offer short/full graduate courses on fair own terms to other AIDA Full or Associate Members.
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