Executives from some of the largest companies in Europe and leading academics gathered for the first meeting of the European Commission’s (EC) AI4EU project, which aims to drive adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) in a wide range of industries.

The group’s launch meeting in Barcelona, Spain, brought together partners from 21 EU countries with 79 organisations involved. Delegates included telecoms operators, technology companies, other enterprises and academic institutions.

It is being led by French aerospace and transport company Thales Group and features experts from Telenor and Orange among its representatives.

AI4EU plans to conduct a number of pilots across different industries to define the benefits and issues related to AI technology. In a statement announcing the scheme in December 2018, the EC said an ethics division would also be formed to “ensure the respect of human centred AI values.”

The EC said the ultimate aim of the group is to pave the way for an AI-on-demand platform for businesses and other organisations in all EU member states.

In its first phase, the project will assess use of AI in: robotics; industry; healthcare; IoT; media; agriculture; civic infrastructure; and cybersecurity.

AI4EU came into existence at the start of 2019 and is the latest activity by European authorities to push forward AI in the economic area after an agreement between member states in 2017. It is also undergoing a public consultation into ethics in AI, which is due to close next week.