newsletter #19: Prague AI scene is growing, and so are we

November was full of new additions: innovative research departments were founded, new facilities saw the light of day, and universities announced brand new courses. In addition, we welcomed DNAi as our latest industrial member.

Nová učebna studentům zprostředkuje až 25 VR headsetů.

🏡 What’s new at

Hello, new industrial member

We are proud to welcome DNAi into our family and grateful that another outstanding company has decided to support us in our vision.

“We are excited to be part of We can’t wait to share our experience with other industrial and academic members and engage with them in our global projects,” said Pavel Wimmer, CEO at DNAi. “We want to contribute to promoting Prague as a place where top AI products and services are made, get inspired by new impulses, and support new talent,” he added.

Established in Prague in 2018, DNAi focuses on transforming cutting-edge research into commercial AI designs, specialising in building digital twins for manufacturing, healthcare, and other segments. They have developed an open-source platform for DNA analysis and count Honeywell USA among their clients.

DataMole on agricultural innovation

Cultivating plants and livestock used to be a human-only activity. But AI is quickly becoming a norm on farms and fields, in part thanks to Tomáš Borovička and his company Datamole who supply farmers with efficient solutions that help them milk cows or brew beer. In his interview for Journal, Tomáš details their collaboration with foreign robotics firms, contentious matters of sustainability in agriculture, and their efforts to contribute to the education of a new generation of Czech AI experts alongside Czech Technical University.

Example of an industrial inspection enabled by DNAi's computer vision technology.
Example of an industrial inspection enabled by DNAi’s computer vision technology. Minor graduates in action: opportunities at Recombee

In preparing our students for successful careers in industry or academia, Minor programme emphasises practical insights and experiences. Through events with guests speakers and industrial collaborations, we bring our students as close as possible to the heart of practical AI innovation. Recombee is a shining example of making such opportunities more accessible to young talent across university faculties. In their article, you can read about the diverse opportunities Recombee has in store for students and young professionals. You’ll also learn about Petr Kasalický, a recent Minor graduate currently working as an ML researcher at the company.

🎭 Events we’re excited about

2 Dec, The Shape of (Central) Europe 2021

To be ready for the challenges of the 21st century, public administration will have to deal with unprecedentedly complex challenges: digitization, economic disruptions, re-skilling the workforce, and increasing inequalities, just to name a few. The aim of the Aspen Institute’s conference is to provide an overview of the political, economic, and social development of the Czech Republic in the context of Central Europe.

3 Dec, Robotic Intimacy – Social, psychological, and ethical aspects

Enthusiasts from the interested public can look forward to discussing the intricacies of human-robot relations across personal relationships, healthcare, and society at large. Seven distinguished speakers from the Czech Academy of Sciences will be presenting fascinating topics of research, from robotic care work to questions of sexuality.

7 Dec, Microsoft’s Responsible AI Digital Event

Dedicated to implementing responsible AI models and guiding development teams toward designing responsible technology, this free event lets you discover best practice guidelines for building AI solutions responsibly and learn from AI experts at Microsoft and BCG.

8-9 Dec, Challenges of Healthcare in Prague – Metropolitan Healthcare Congress 2021

Online once again, the annual Metropolitan Healthcare Congress invites you to reflect, discuss, and share insights about the many ways the current pandemic affected our healthcare system, as well as how it is set to shape its future challenges. Medical experts and academics will discuss public health measures, roles of general practitioners and hospital networks, widespread mental health concerns, as well as strategies to boost resilience.

👏 Members’ news that makes us proud

Not one, but two of our industrial members — DataSentics and Recombee — have placed in Deloitte’s Fast 50 CEE and received international recognition for their extraordinary growth and success. DataSentics claimed the 8th spot among all technological fast-growers from all over central and eastern Europe And Recombee scored in the national Top 50, claiming the coveted 30th rank. Congratulations! 

CTU’s CIIRC was particularly busy this month, opening a brand new department dedicated to furthering research into various methodologies and aspects of artificial intelligence. The latest research branch will consolidate AI and ML research, which was formerly dispersed throughout all of CIIRC’s activities and research fields across robotics, energy, or healthcare, focusing primarily on strengthening basic foundations of AI research. The new centre has great potential to build on existing strengths of AI research at the institute: just last month, an article co-authored by CIIRC’s Tomáš Pajdla was awarded at the prestigious International Conference on Computer Vision 2021 in Montreal.

Example of sky model rendering from the CUNI Computer Graphics Group
Example of sky model rendering from the CUNI Computer Graphics Group

CIIRC also saw an exclusive lecture by Lenka Zdeborová from EPFL in Swiss Lausanne, who talked about understanding machine learning through exactly solvable models. Lenka Zdeborová is an inspiration to many researchers in Czechia and abroad: connecting physics, informatics, and mathematics in her groundbreaking research, she received an ERC grant as well as the Neuron Prize for her excellent work. It was a pleasure to welcome her in-person at CTU in Prague, but if you missed her lecture, you can watch a recording on YouTube. And while you’re at it, you may also be interested in checking out the latest instalment of the RICAIP Seminar Series with Professor Wahlster on AI & the Next Decade of Industry 4.0, hosted by CIIRC’s Scientific Director Professor Minařík. 

At Charles University, researchers are working to improve graphics calculations and advanced sky models. To facilitate real innovations in this area of research, the CUNI Computer Graphics Group at the Faculty of Math and Physics is now expanding its Intel Graphics and Visualization Institute as an Intel oneAPI Center of Excellence. The new affiliation will help them innovate sky model lighting simulations and integrate AI technologies for multiple usages, including lighting innovations and 3D renderings. In addition, CUNI’s Faculty of Mathematics and Physics is founding a new research group set to study the potential of applying machine learning strategies to physics, headed by researchers Martin Žonda and Pavel Baláž. Thanks to the new research focus, students at MFF can also look forward to the opportunity of following a brand new elective focused on introducing them to AI applications within the field of physics or other natural sciences.

SCARAB II and SPOT can now transfer data via own 5G networks.
SCARAB II and SPOT can now transfer data via own 5G networks.

Robotics and 5G networks — do they go together? Researchers from the FEE CTU’s AI Center, in cooperation with the Deggendorf Institute of Technology in Freyung, are inquiring about just that. Throughout this Bavarian-Czech project, the goal was to verify that large amounts of data from robotic sensors can indeed be streamed in real-time over custom-made 5G networks. Such remote data processing is more powerful and allows for greater flexibility, holding great promise for robot-serviced rescue missions in diverse terrains. 

The Prague Innovation Institute’s municipal Innovation Committee discussed new funding programmes and opportunities for innovative business solutions as well as research projects in our metropolis. Up to 32 million Czech crowns may be made available as part of two separate innovation funding schemes, subject to approval by the Prague City Council. The Committee was also briefed on the continuation of other exciting projects, such as the DoToho! mentoring programme.

Excited to plunge yourself headfirst into the infamous metaverse? Navigating new virtual reality worlds may become trickier than it initially seems, but the Czech Technical University is eager to stay on top of the new challenges. At the Faculty of Information Technology, a unique virtual reality classroom just opened — with its 25 VR headsets ready for use, it is one of the best equipped in the region. Students can look forward to exploring new forms of learning, creating, and expressing themselves in a fully virtual world. To complement the new facilities, CTU is also planning to open a new elective course centred around understanding and properly implementing virtual reality technology.

Students at FIT CTU can now utilise a virtual reality classroom.
Students at FIT CTU can now utilise a virtual reality classroom.

Meanwhile, GoodAI continues its pursuit of a continual learning framework for its AI models as well as financial support for promising research projects around the world. Rolando Estrada and Blake Camp, both based at Georgia State University, receive GoodAI funding for their research on a continual learning framework with modular deep artificial neurons (DANs). Throughout their work on integrating GoodAI’s Badger architecture and principles, Estrada and his team aim to develop a continual semi-supervised learning system capable of joint supervised and unsupervised learning.

Have you considered using AI-powered recommendations for your business? Or would you like to learn more about their business utilisations? Pavel Kordík and Gabriela Takáčová from Recombee joined Brian McKeiver on the Kontent Rocks podcast to discuss why automated recommendations and ultimately content personalisation can help organisations save time and increase site metrics and conversions. You can listen to the third episode on any streaming platform of your choosing, including Kontent Rocks’ website, YouTube, Spotify, or Apple Podcasts

In addition, DataSentics also has some new content for you to review: they recently published an article detailing the application of personalisation strategies in fields as diverse as banking and entertainment.

📍 From the local AI scene

New generation of founders fights disinformation

As founders of Verifee, these three young entrepreneurs are squaring up to fight the spread of disinformation in the Czech information space. By developing filters and tags based on artificial intelligence technologies, their app has the potential to help news consumers develop critical reading skills and navigate the complexities of a tricky information ecosystem.

Czech businesses lead among European early adopters of AI technologies

The European Commission has released its Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI), which lends itself to comparisons among member states. And the Czech Republic can be proud of its comparative standing, particularly when it comes to industrial adoption of artificial intelligence and machine learning strategies. Yet other aspects of digital society remain a challenge: there is definitely space for improvement when it comes to scaling the digital economy or utilising European ICT funding.

📰 Stuff that interests us

Comparision of traditional and multilingual language models
Comparision of traditional and multilingual language models

🧩 ML/AI sources we recommend

Are you an AI expert? – brAInfood series #5

Do you think you can call yourself an AI expert? Test your knowledge and get a chance to learn more about the technology in these info sheets published in cooperation with Knowledge Centre Data & Society. They are currently available in Czech too thanks to the CLAIRE Office Prague at CIIRC CTU.

TensorFlow Playground

In the mood to play with some fun neural networks? Or just looking for some ML educational materials that will keep your students busy for a good while? This interactive webpage demonstrates many basic principles and features of machine learning and can serve as a good didactic tool for introductory ML classes.

📢 Community calls

The Czech Academy of Sciences is opening applications for a number of internships,  including some in the field of artificial intelligence, concerning digital imaging using neural networks and Bayes networks in machine learning. If you are interested, or know an inquisitive high-school student who may be, definitely try out for these and many other traineeship positions across diverse academic research disciplines at Otevřená věda

💼 Open job positions