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Natural Language Understanding and Interaction in Advanced Language Technologies (AI Data and Robotics Partnership)
Horizon Europe - Cluster 4 - Destination 6: A Human-centred and Ethical Development of Digital and Industrial Technologies
Estimated EU contribution per project
between € 6,000,000.00 and € 8,000,000.00
Link to the call
Link to the submission
Effective AI-based human-machine interaction and collaboration relies on grasping real meaning from natural languages, recognising gestures and activities, understanding intention, creating and maintaining shared mental models and designing multi-step interactions.
As AI becomes increasingly more performant, there is growing potential for humans to directly use and benefit from smarter systems. Effective AI-based human-machine interaction and collaboration relies on grasping real meaning from natural languages, recognising gestures and activities, understanding intention, creating and maintaining shared mental models and designing multi-step interactions. Reciprocally, truly natural interaction between people and machines is essential for future AI-enabled systems across all application areas and domains.
Envisaged AI solutions should address one or both of the following areas:
- Improve context-aware human-machine interaction to increase understanding and exploitation of the interaction context and content in multimodal settings, thus increasing responsiveness of interactive AI solutions, such as smart assistants, conversational and dialogue systems, content generation models, etc.
- Support and enhance seamless human-to-human communication across languages e.g. by means of automatic translation or interpretation (incl. automatic subtitling) in real time with a greater understanding of the communication context and the meaning involved in it.
Multidisciplinary research activities should address at least one of the following:
- Developing novel methods and techniques for producing context-aware models, which incorporate factual-based structured and unstructured knowledge in broader situational and temporal information, and continual learning to achieve natural behaviour and reasoning in all intended settings.
- Improving large pre-trained multilingual language models to cover a large set of languages, with a high level of natural language understanding and the ability to efficiently add more languages, including low-resource ones, via transfer or language-independent learning methods.
- Improving language-independent and bias-controlling algorithms and methods for language model training and usage efficiency in terms of data, time and energy consumption while retaining performance, accuracy and general usability.
- Developing language representations, encompassing an effective combination of multilingual, symbolic and sub-symbolic knowledge and allowing systems to perform cross-cultural reasoning in various contextual tasks.
Proposals should involve appropriate expertise in all the relevant disciplines, such as data science, computer science, computational linguistics, machine learning and natural language processing. Particular attention should be paid to control gender or other biases in language models.
Research should build on existing standards, contribute to standardisation and result in findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable research data including metadata schemas and ontologies.
All proposals are expected to embed mechanisms to assess and demonstrate progress (with qualitative and quantitative KPIs, benchmarking and progress monitoring, as well as illustrative application use-cases demonstrating concrete potential added value), and share communicable results with the European R&D community, through the AI-on-demand platform, Common European Data Spaces (especially the dedicated Language Data Space) and other relevant Member States’ initiatives, such as Open GPT-X, and if necessary other relevant digital resource platforms in order to enhance the European AI, Data and Robotics ecosystem through the sharing of results and best practice.
Proposals are also expected to dedicate tasks and resources to collaborate with and provide input to the open innovation challenge under HORIZON-CL4-2023-HUMAN-01-04 addressing natural language understanding and interaction. Research teams involved in the proposals are expected to participate in the respective Innovation Challenges. This topic implements the co-programmed European Partnership on AI, data and robotics.
- Development of natural language understanding and interaction in advanced language technologies based on context-aware language models able to further integrate long-term general knowledge and derive meaning in order to develop automated reasoning and enhanced interaction skills;
- Effective multilingual and bias-controlled language models, capable of learning from smaller language corpora, efficient in computing and respectful of European values (i.e., privacy, non-discrimination, robustness in legal, ethical and technical terms, reliability and trustworthiness, interpretability and explainability, security and safety);
- AI systems and solutions based on novel multilingual pre-trained language models that have assimilated cross-language and cross-cultural knowledge through textual and speech input;
- Higher uptake of innovative language technology solutions by European companies, providing extensive language coverage of AI-enabled applications and services in Europe.
Regions / countries for funding
Moldova (Moldova), Albania (Shqipëria), Armenia (Հայաստան), Bosnia and Herzegovina (Bosna i Hercegovina / Босна и Херцеговина), Faeroes (Føroyar / Færøerne), Georgia (საქართველო), Island (Ísland), Israel (ישראל / إِسْرَائِيل), Kosovo (Kosova/Kosovë / Косово), Montenegro (Црна Гора), Morocco (المغرب), North Macedonia (Северна Македонија), Norway (Norge), Serbia (Srbija/Сpбија), Tunisia (تونس /Tūnis), Türkiye, Ukraine (Україна), United Kingdom
EU Body, Education and training institution, International organization, Natural Person, Non-Profit Organisation (NPO) / Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), Other, Private institution, incl. private company (private for profit), Public Body (national, regional and local; incl. EGTCs), Research Institution incl. University, Small and medium-sized enterprise (SME)
To be eligible for funding, applicants must be established in one of the following countries:
- the Member States of the European Union, including their outermost regions
- the Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs) linked to the Member States
- third countries associated to Horizon Europe - see list of particpating countries
Only legal entities forming a consortium are eligible to participate in actions provided that the consortium includes, as beneficiaries, three legal entities independent from each other and each established in a different country as follows:
- at least one independent legal entity established in a Member State; and
- at least two other independent legal entities, each established in different Member States or Associated Countries.
Any legal entity, regardless of its place of establishment, including legal entities from non-associated third countries or international organisations (including international European research organisations) is eligible to participate (whether it is eligible for funding or not), provided that the conditions laid down in the Horizon Europe Regulation have been met, along with any other conditions laid down in the specific call topic.
A ‘legal entity’ means any natural or legal person created and recognised as such under national law, EU law or international law, which has legal personality and which may, acting in its own name, exercise rights and be subject to obligations, or an entity without legal personality.
- Affiliated entities — Affiliated entities (i.e. entities with a legal or capital link to a beneficiary which participate in the action with similar rights and obligations to the beneficiaries, but which do not sign the grant agreement and therefore do not become beneficiaries themselves) are allowed, if they are eligible for participation and funding.
- Associated partners — Associated partners (i.e. entities which participate in the action without signing the grant agreement, and without the right to charge costs or claim contributions) are allowed, subject to any conditions regarding associated partners set out in the specific call conditions.
- Entities without legal personality — Entities which do not have legal personality under their national law may exceptionally participate, provided that their representatives have the capacity to undertake legal obligations on their behalf, and offer guarantees to protect the EU’s financial interests equivalent to those offered by legal persons.
- EU bodies — Legal entities created under EU law including decentralised agencies may be part of the consortium, unless provided for otherwise in their basic act.
- Joint Research Centre (‘JRC’)— Where provided for in the specific call conditions, applicants may include in their proposals the possible contribution of the JRC but the JRC will not participate in the preparation and submission of the proposal. Applicants will indicate the contribution that the JRC could bring to the project based on the scope of the topic text. After the evaluation process, the JRC and the consortium selected for funding may come to an agreement on the specific terms of the participation of the JRC. If an agreement is found, the JRC may accede to the grant agreement as beneficiary requesting zero funding or participate as an associated partner, and would accede to the consortium as a member.
- Associations and interest groupings — Entities composed of members (e.g. European research infrastructure consortia (ERICs)) may participate as ‘sole beneficiaries’ or ‘beneficiaries without legal personality’. However, if the action is in practice implemented by the individual members, those members should also participate (either as beneficiaries or as affiliated entities, otherwise their costs will NOT be eligible
other eligibility criteria
Activities are expected to start at TRL 2 and achieve TRL 5 by the end of the project.
For the Technology Readiness Level (TRL), the following definitions apply:
- TRL 1 — Basic principles observed
- TRL 2 — Technology concept formulated
- TRL 3 — Experimental proof of concept
- TRL 4 — Technology validated in a lab
- TRL 5 — Technology validated in a relevant environment (industrially relevant environment in the case of key enabling technologies)
- TRL 6 — Technology demonstrated in a relevant environment (industrially relevant environment in the case of key enabling technologies)
- TRL 7 — System prototype demonstration in an operational environment
- TRL 8 — System complete and qualified
- TRL 9 — Actual system proven in an operational environment (competitive manufacturing in the case of key enabling technologies, or in space)
Relevance for EU Macro-Region
EUSAIR - EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region, EUSALP - EU Strategy for the Alpine Space, EUSBSR - EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region, EUSDR - EU Strategy for the Danube Region
UN Sustainable Development Goals (UN-SDGs)
All proposals must be submitted electronically via the Funders & Tenders Portal electronic submission system (accessible via the topic page in the Search Funding & Tenders section). Paper submissions are NOT possible.
Proposals must be complete and contain all parts and mandatory annexes and supporting documents, e.g. plan for the exploitation and dissemination of the results including communication activities, etc.
The application form will have two parts:
- Part A (to be filled in directly online) contains administrative information about the applicant organisations (future coordinator and beneficiaries and affiliated entities), the summarised budget for the proposal and call-specific questions;
- Part B (to be downloaded from the Portal submission system, completed and then assembled and re-uploaded as a PDF in the system) contains the technical description of the project.
Annexes and supporting documents will be directly available in the submission system and must be uploaded as PDF files (or other formats allowed by the system).
The limit for a full application (Part B) is 45 pages.