Highly innovative ecosystems emerge at outstanding academic institutions like Stanford, Berkeley, MIT, and ETH, which serve as international talent magnets and incubators of innovation. Thus, rather than just building a “virtual” network amongst institutions, ELLIS aims at creating new working environments for outstanding researchers to enable them to combine cutting-edge research paired with the creation of start-ups and industrial impact. As a stepping stone towards this goal, in September 2019 ELLIS started establishing smaller ELLIS Units based on a call for proposals carefully reviewed by an international selection committee. These units bring together the best AI researchers at their locations and fulfill a set of criteria to ensure excellence and to be maximally competitive at the international level. Beyond this grassroots initiative, ELLIS also calls for action directed towards European countries willing to invest in excellence in AI to set up larger ELLIS Institutes that are strong and agile enough to be able to compete with the best of academia and industry worldwide.
An ELLIS Unit has an annual budget of at least EUR 1.5 million, while a full-fledged ELLIS Institute will require more significant resources (building costs as well as an annual budget increasing to EUR 30 million). Excellent researchers at other sites can be connected to ELLIS units and institutes via fellowships, and the sites work closely together in research, training and infrastructure.
There are two deadlines per year to submit a proposal for an ELLIS unit: March 1st and September 1st. Guidelines on how to submit a proposal can be found here.
So far the ELLIS network has 28 units in 14 different countries: