The Priority Research Programme and Equipments on AI (PEPR IA), launched on March 25, 2024, is part of France National AI Strategy funded under the France 2030 Investment Plan. A total of €73 million in government funding will be disbursed over six years and the program will be overseen by the CEA, CNRS, and Inria, three major research organizations.

This program is a powerful tool in the service of the national AI strategy, with nine ambitious projects already underway. It aims to meet the essential and fundamental challenges of machine learning in 3 complementary areas:

  • Trustworthy AI and Distributed AI via a multifacet point of view on trustworthiness, integrating the development of the foundations of robustness through statistical approaches; the integration of formal methods for the specification, the learning and the validation of AI models; the development of decentralized learning mechanisms guaranteeing safety; the integration of causal models with machine learning to benefit from grounded explanation capabilities.
  • Frugal AI and Embedded AI via deepening the theoretical and algorithmic foundations of Machine Learning, to ensure frugality by design in both data and compute; advanced optimization of models and tight control of training to meet hardware constraints; design of modular, flexible and adaptive hardware architectures dedicated to AI; exploration of computational models close to physics.
  • New Mathematical Foundations of AI, particularly in the field of mathematical analysis, via the integration of recent tools and advances in partial differential equations, optimal control and optimal transport to develop new architectures, stable optimization schemes, and efficient solvers , and the understanding of generative and diffusion models from an analytical point of view.

More than 150 PhD students and at least as many post-docs and engineers will be hired for this first wave of projects, expected to last from four to five years.

Subsequent calls for projects will be issued to cover related fields to ensure broad coverage of AI against a wider European and global backdrop.

Several Magnet Chairs (Chaires d’Attractivité) will be created to attract and retain top talent in government-funded research positions.

A Steering Committee will liaise with the governing bodies of the national acceleration strategy to ensure that the AI program is managed on behalf of the scientific community in a fully transparent, neutral manner. In addition to this Steering Committee, the AI program’s governance will also consist of:

Progress on current initiatives will be assessed and recommendations for new initiatives will be made during an annual review process.

The markets for embedded AI and trusted AI are growing rapidly. Therefore, whenever possible, the results of the scientific research projects will feed a pipeline of technologies to be nurtured from low to mid TRLs in line with potential market applications and tech transfer operations.

Missions of the PEPR IA

The AI PEPR will build the scientific communities needed to tackle stimulating scientific challenges and lay the groundwork for technological breakthroughs that will benefit all French AI stakeholders. 

Embedded AI and trusted AI have been identified as the two key areas where France and Europe can become global leaders. The PEPR IA will:

The PEPR IA ecosystem

The AI PEPR will mobilize more than 50 research teams across France for the first nine major projects, creating a truly national effort. These projects will benefit from some of the best minds in each field. The high-level scientific communities that will be created around each national strategy pillar will form a strong foundation for a dynamic AI innovation pipeline.