What is EMPAIA?
In early 2019, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK) launched the competition “Artificial intelligence as a driver for economically relevant ecosystems” (a.k.a. “AI Innovation Competition”). This funding was a specific step towards implementing the Federal Government’s strategy on artificial intelligence. Out of 130 submissions from all areas of the economy, 35 projects were selected for funding in a 6-month competition phase. One of the successful proposals was EMPAIA, submitted by a consortium of Charité, Fraunhofer MEVIS and MindPeak GmbH. In the competition phase that lasted from April to October 2019, the EMPAIA concept was further developed, extensive public relations work took place and a congress exhibit was held. Many new partners were added from clinical-diagnostic institutions, professional associations and the private sector. Together with clinical partners, the concept of “reference centers” was established, in which innovative AI products will be tested. Extensive discussions were also held with future private industry partners who will contribute considerable resources to the project. This work formed the basis for the application for funding in the subsequent implementation phase, which was submitted in September 2019. EMPAIA emerged as a winner of the competition phase, together with 15 other large collaborative projects and is now receiving funding of around € 11M over three years for the implementation phase. In addition, EMPAIA was able to raise more than € 6.2M in additional funding from private industry partners.
The EMPAIA project officially started on January 1, 2020. The consortium was reorganised for the implementation phase. Participating partners are now: Charité (Institute of Pathology), Fraunhofer Institute for Digital Medicine MEVIS, TU Berlin (DAI-Labor), vitagroup AG and the QuIP (Quality Assurance Initiative Pathology GmbH).