September 13, 2023

EU will allow European AI startups to use supercomputers to train its models 

Announces European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in her annual speech. But there are some concerns

Zosia Wanat

2 min read

European AI startups will be given access to the EU’s supercomputers in order to conduct research and train new models, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen says. 

Von der Leyen made the announcement in her annual speech, much of which was focused on European competitiveness, particularly in technology. 

“Europe has now become a leader in supercomputing, with three of the five most powerful supercomputers in the world. We need to capitalise on this,” she says. 


“It is an economic and national security imperative to preserve a European edge on critical and emerging technologies.”

Created in 2018 and located in Luxembourg, the European High Performance Computing Joint Undertaking is a private and public initiative that coordinates and pools the resources of EU governments, businesses and the EC, and aims to make Europe a world leader in supercomputing. It has so far procured eight supercomputers, located across the continent.

“Our supercomputers will put European R&I startups in pole position globally for a stronger EU science and technology base,” EU’s newly appointed research and innovation commissioner, Iliana Ivanova, said on X.

But some people in the AI research community worry that Europe’s new supercomputers aren’t optimised for AI research. Finnish AI lab Silo recently announced that it will train a new language model on one of the new supercomputers — LUMI — but tells Sifted it had been extremely expensive to do, as the system does not run on Nvidia chips (the industry standard for AI training).

During her speech, Von der Leyen also called on EU legislators to finish work on the special budget, which will help to “boost, leverage and steer EU funds to invest in everything from microelectronics to quantum computing and AI, from biotech to clean tech”. 

The budget is supposed to be the EU’s response to similar subsidies plans introduced in countries like the US and China. She also called for the EU legislators to wrap up the flagship AI legislation, proposed in 2019, which is still being negotiated.  

Von der Leyen’s speech also gave special attention to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) — which in EU jargon often relate also to startups. 

“Small companies do not have the capacity to cope with complex administration, they’re held back by lengthy processes…  They miss out on opportunities to grow,” she says. 

Von der Leyen announced that the EU will propose legislation that will reduce red tape for SMEs on the European level by 25%.

She will also appoint a new special envoy for European SMEs who will report directly to her — so far, startups and small businesses haven’t been heavily engaged in European policymaking.  


“We want to hear directly from SMEs about their everyday challenges,” she says. 

Zosia Wanat

Zosia Wanat is a senior reporter at Sifted. She covers the CEE region and policy. Follow her on X and LinkedIn