In December 2019, a jumble of different languages echoed through the corridors and rooms of the Chair of Distributed Information Systems: French, English, German, even Bavarian. It was the start of the third summer school organized by Professor Harald Kosch—he is the holder of the chair, and vice president of the University of Passau—with the help of his team. Kosch could be found right in the thick of things, greeting someone here, chatting there, working his way around the densely packed conference room.
The driving force behind the summer school is the IRIXYS network: the International Research and Innovation Center in Intelligent Digital Systems. This digital research platform was founded in 2016 by the University of Passau, the National Institute of Applied Sciences of Lyon (INSA Lyon), and the University of Milan with the aim of bringing together the best minds of the future from the fields of politics, science, and business. The platform focuses on research on digitalization, big data, and artificial intelligence.
The theme of the 2019 summer school, organized by IRIXYS in cooperation with the École Normale Supérieure Paris Saclay, was “Transfer Learning.” The conference provides a unique stage for budding research talent: doctoral candidates present their work to professors from France, Japan, Austria, and Germany, as well as to politicians, global players, and members of local startups. They give presentations, hold discussions, and share their findings. As well as the summer school, IRIXYS also organizes two workshops each year designed specifically for PhD students, where they can exchange views with other researchers as well as individuals from the world of business. This year, IRIXYS also had a stand at the VivaTech conference in Paris.
“There was a need for concrete exchanges on digital innovations among business, research, and politics. IRIXYS is very innovative as it manages to bring people together—from industry, from academia, and from the public authorities—and this, at a transnational level,” explains Axelle Cheney, who coordinates the international projects within Professor Kosch’s chair. Cheney (a French native) has spent a long time working as a policy adviser to the European Commission in Brussels, speaks four languages fluently, and knows a great deal about international topics and diverse teams.
IRIXYS began with a Franco-German study partnership. After completing his undergraduate degree at TU Munich in 1990, Harald Kosch initially transferred to Claude Bernard University in Lyon, before obtaining a doctorate from ENS Lyon in 1997. His doctoral supervisor was Lionel Brunie, now a professor of computer science at INSA. The two became friends, remained in contact, and developed their friendship into a research collaboration. “It is thanks to serendipity that things worked out the way they did,” Kosch says. “If we had gone into the world of business, IRIXYS never would have been created. The fact that we are both working at universities is what gave us this opportunity in the first place.”
IRIXYS, a member of the European Alliance on Artificial Intelligence, has now become a key player in data science and digital intelligence systems, cooperating with major institutions and leading companies in Bavaria, Germany, France, and all over the world, such as Siemens, Atos, and ZF Friedrichshafen AG.
Participating Universities: University of Passau, INSA Lyon (France), University of Milan (Italy)
Double Doctorate – “Cotutelle de thèse”: Opportunity for German-French and French-Italian double doctoral degrees
Research Topics: Big data, internet of things, security in cloud computing
- Above-average university degree specializing in computer science
- Good English language skills; knowledge of French and/or German desirable
- Graduates of double master’s in Computer Science, Information, and Communication preferred
This exchange between science, politics, and business really works, as evidenced by real-world examples where this research has already been implemented. For example, Professor Kosch’s team has been examining how machine-learning methods can be used to detect fraud in bank transfers. Atos, a leading digital services provider, has used this research to develop solutions for its customers. Passau University PhD student Mathieu Garchéry and his Atos colleagues recently presented the main trends of this approach at the summer school in Passau.
There was a need for concrete exchanges on digital innovations among business, research, and politics.Axelle Cheney, Coordinator in the Chair of Distributed Information Systems
Another example is the ProKimedO telemedicine project, which sought to ensure comprehensive healthcare provision for children and young people in eastern Bavaria—a rural region suffering from a shortage of doctors. Researchers worked together with the Dritter Orden children’s hospital in Passau and other practitioners to develop a knowledge database for pediatric professionals. Doctoral students were actively involved throughout the project.
The IRIXYS collaboration forges links between academia, industry, and governance, extending its benefits far beyond the workroom. IRIXYS provides talented young researchers with an opportunity to explore the practical applications of their research. Companies have access to the best minds in the field from three different countries. And public authorities can draw directly on partners’ knowledge and expertise, which is gained in the development and implementation of this research, to inform their public-policy decisions. In Kosch’s view, joint action and cross-border exchange are the best ways to promote creative solutions for AI and digitalization. “I am convinced that working together is the only path to success. The conditions and knowledge are in place; we simply have to use them—and we are.”