Minister for Science and Technology Melissa Price has announced the launch of the National Artificial Intelligence Centre (NAIC), with the Government investing $53.8 million over four years to support the business-focused AI hub alongside four AI and Digital Capability Centres.
Led by the CSIRO’s chief data and digital research specialist arm, Data61, the Canberra-based NAIC will serve as a “focal point” government, industry and the research sector to explore use cases for and facilitate adoption of AI technologies in Australia.
“These partnerships are intended to strengthen Australia’s connectivity and presence globally in the international AI community, while also attracting new interest – and potential investment – into local AI research, projects and capabilities in Australia,” the CSIRO said.
The Centre will function as an arm of Data61, with the research agency noting it was well-equipped to lead the NAIC.
“As the national science agency, and housing some of the country’s leading capability in AI research and technology development, we’re well positioned to act as lead in establishing the National AI Centre.”
Price said the launch of the new Centre will position the country “as a global leader in AI technology, harnessing our collective capabilities, talent and resources to be developers and drive early adoption of AI by our businesses”.
“The National Artificial Intelligence Centre will play a pivotal role in ensuring we can take advantage of AI technologies, which has been forecast to contribute more than $20 trillion to the global economy by 2030.
“It will unlock the potential of AI and create new opportunities for business to access critical AI expertise and capabilities.”
SMEs and emerging start-ups will also be a key focus for the Centre, with support targeted towards addressing barriers these businesses face in developing AI and other emerging technologies.
Microsoft alumnus Stela Solar has been appointed to lead the Centre as Director.
Solar previously served as the Microsoft’s global director of artificial intelligence solution, sales and strategy.
“Stela has the vision and industry knowledge to work with CSIRO to continue bridging the gap between industry and our world-leading AI specialists,” CSIRO chief executive Dr Larry Marshall said in a statement.
The Centre is part of the Government’s $124.1 million AI Action Plan, which “sets out a vision for Australia to become a global leader in developing and adopting trusted, secure and responsible artificial intelligence”.
The CSIRO said it will commence events at the National AI Centre in early 2022.