Full steam ahead for High-Tech Agenda Bavaria

Portrait Prof. Dr. Björn Eskofier
Prof. Dr. Björn Eskofier has been appointed the head of the department. (Image: FAU/Kurt Fuchs)

AI Department established, top talents appointed

The first year of the High-Tech Agenda Bavaria (HTA) has been a successful one for FAU: the first professors have already started their research into artificial intelligence (AI) in medicine in the newly established Department of Artificial Intelligence in Biomedical Engineering (AIBE), and Prof. Dr. Björn Eskofier has been appointed the head of the department. FAU ran an internal competition to decide where to place the 54 professorships allocated to the University from the HTA, looking at which planned research projects were most likely to make the best contribution to meeting the objectives of the HTA.

With Prof. Dr. Björn Eskofier, FAU President Prof. Dr. Joachim Hornegger has given one of FAU’s respected AI experts the task of continuing to develop the department. Eskofier is currently Chair of Computer Science 14 (Machine Learning and Data Analysis) and is a secondary member of the Faculty of Medicine. From an organisational point of view, he and his team will now move over from the Department of Computer Science to the new AIBE department. The new department mainly comprises AI professorships from the HTA, together with other professorships focusing on the topic of AI in medicine. One special feature of the AIBE department, is that its professors are members of both the Faculty of Medicine and the Faculty of Engineering, and are carrying out interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research in areas which connect medicine and engineering.

The Bavarian science minister Bernd Sibler is impressed by the speed the HTA professorships have been filled at FAU. ‘With the High-Tech Agenda Bavaria and the acceleration programme High-Tech Agenda Plus, we have given our Bavarian universities a unique investment programme, setting an example for the rest of Germany. As part of the health hub in our Bavarian AI network, FAU has a fundamental role in our AI concept. It is a leading location for innovation in artificial intelligence in medicine. I am very pleased to see how enthusiastically the University is seizing the opportunities available to develop new technology and make our lives better every day. It is thanks to the dedication of our universities that this turbocharger is able to boost research in such an effective way.’

‘After Minister President Dr. Markus Söder launched the HTA, we were quick off the mark to establish the AIBE department and ensure that the HTA got off to a flying start at FAU. We were able to appoint leading talents to strategically important positions and offer them clear prospects for the future,’ says FAU President Joachim Hornegger. ‘I still believe that HTA is a big deal: FAU has rarely had such an opportunity to choose its own focus and set course for excellence, and the same presumably rings true for the other Bavarian universities.’

But how to decide which course to take? With the AIBE department, FAU has taken the first step, but further professorships are to be set up within FAU at strategically important positions best suited for effectively shaping the University’s profile. ‘From the outset, it was clear that an opportunity like this will not be offered to us again and scattering funding across the board would not be the most effective approach. I have always believed that excellence can only be attained through competition. That is why we have established an internal application procedure with strict criteria. On the basis of the applications we receive, we can then decide where we as FAU can make the most effective strategic investments. Those faculties or departments whose research is best cut out to tailoring the profile of FAU, whether digital humanities or the sciences, have a unique opportunity to offer attractive packages to bring leading international candidates to FAU, and to the high-tech location Bavaria.’

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