DeepMind is partnering with the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) to launch a new “AI for Science” pan-African Masters programme.
The programme will give talented students from across the region a chance to pursue advanced studies at AIMS South Africa, and connect with DeepMind’s researchers and engineers for mentoring and support.
Both organisations hope that this programme will help accelerate scientific discovery with AI across the region and contribute to a more diverse global AI ecosystem.
DeepMind will donate up to $4.5M to cover full scholarships, equipment and computational resources for 40 students per academic year, with an aim of reaching up to 160 students by the end of the initial four-year period. DeepMind employees will also provide career and dissertation mentoring to students.
The curriculum, which will initially run from August 2023 to July 2027, will look at how we can use AI to better understand the world around us and accelerate progress on some of today’s most fundamental and fascinating scientific challenges.
It will be developed by AIMS and DeepMind, with input from four world-leading local scientific groups:
- Square Kilometre Array Observatory (SKAO) and its South African partner, the South African Radio Astronomy Observatory (SARAO), an international effort to build the world’s largest radio telescope;
- Centre for Epidemic Response and Innovation (CERI), a leading epidemic and pandemic preparedness and response institute;
- South African Centre forEpidemiological Modelling and Analysis (SACEMA), a Department of Science and Innovation – National Research Foundation Centre of Excellence with a mission to improve health in Africa through epidemiological modelling and analysis.
Ulrich Paquet, Research Scientist at DeepMind, has been appointed as Executive Director at AIMS South Africa and will lead the programme until 2027. He will continue to hold a dual affiliation with DeepMind.
“We are thrilled to partner with AIMS to give talented students from across Africa a chance to follow their passion,” said Obum Ekeke OBE, Head of Education Partnerships at DeepMind. “Africa has the youngest population in the world and as such holds incredible potential to contribute to the field of AI – yet, the region is significantly underrepresented in AI research today. Fixing this not only is the right thing to do – it is critical if AI is going to be a technology that benefits everyone. We hope this programme not only serves to build a more diverse and inclusive global AI ecosystem, but also enables new breakthroughs in science that will benefit the African region directly.”
“We launched AIMS two decades ago, with many friends across Africa. Our goal was to enable Africa’s brightest students to enter science at the highest level. The success of our 2500 alumni, from 45 African countries, demonstrates that Africa will be a major source of scientific and technical talent in the future. As well as tackling societal challenges like climate change, AIMS graduates are powering leading edge scientific projects in Africa such as the Square Kilometre Array and the African Light Source. AIMS is thrilled to be working with DeepMind to bring young Africans into AI,“ said Neil Turok, Founder of AIMS and a world-leading theoretical physicist.
“A lot of groundbreaking science is happening in Africa today, particularly in the fields of epidemiology and cosmology. AI is a tool that’s empowering scientists, accelerating new areas of research in these fields and unlocking solutions to humanity’s biggest challenges. We hope that through our partnership, we can inspire local students to get involved in this pioneering work and contribute to the scientific discoveries that are yet to come. I am humbled by the opportunity to support this new generation of AI scientists and engineers, and look forward to seeing first-hand the impact they will have in this space,” said Ulrich Paquet, Research Scientist at DeepMind and lead of the programme.
DeepMind’s mission is to solve intelligence to advance science and benefit humanity. AI will impact all of society and needs to be shaped by a diversity of perspectives, which is why DeepMind introduced its global scholarships and community outreach programmes to broaden participation in the field.
The new partnership with AIMS builds on the company’s existing commitments in Africa, including DeepMind Scholarships at the University of the Witwatersrand and Makerere and Stellenbosch Universities, and the Deep Learning Indaba, an annual meeting of the African machine learning community designed to strengthen African machine learning and co-founded by DeepMind employees in 2017.