Google and Facebook announced huge investments into artificial intelligence (AI) development facilities in France, timed to coincide with an event for international businesses hosted by President Emmanuel Macron.
US-based search giant Google plans to open a new AI research centre in the country, while Facebook will invest €10 million into its existing Paris facility.
In a blog, Google CEO Sundar Pichai said the company’s new French hub would be dedicated to developing AI technology to enable a range of applications including health, science, art and the environment. He added the research will use open-source code so “everyone can use these insights to solve their own problems, in their own way.”
The Alphabet-owned company will also expand its wider staff numbers in France and open four new Google Hubs around the country offering digital skills training.
Merci @EmmanuelMacron for the warm welcome! We’re excited about opening an AI center here and creating the first of 4 Google Hubs in Brittany, making digital skills training & the benefits of technology more accessible to everyone in France. https://t.co/4kt5yiXbEr https://t.co/58ZCtopLEU
— Sundar Pichai (@sundarpichai) 22 January 2018
“More than ever, we’re committed to help France find new ways to grow in this digital era,” Pichai said: “We hope these new investments will help the country, academia and local businesses turn France into a true digital champion.”
Facebook’s strategy to increase the scope of its existing AI research facility in Paris is part of a wider European initiative which also includes opening community skills hubs in Spain, Poland and Italy. The company aims to have trained 1 million people and small businesses across the EU in digital skills by 2020.
The announcements follow an event hosted by the French president with 140 business leaders in a bid to attract investment into the country, ahead of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, which starts today (23 January).
Following the event hosted by Macron, European software company SAP also unveiled a new investment in the country, with plans to pump €150 million per year into R&D in the country. This covers a range of technologies, including machine learning.