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France Goes Gaga For AI

Big investments from Xavier Niel, OVHCloud, and a breakthrough by Mistral AI point to the growing stakes surrounding this critical emerging technology.

Xavier Niel isn't messing around.

The telecom billionaire announced that he is planning to spend €200 million (which he probably found as l0ose pocket change in his couch), on an AI blitz that will include buying a supercomputer, opening an AI research lab, and establishing Europe's premier AI conference.

He's doing this through his telecom company Illiad, which has opened said research center in Paris with €100 million of that cash. The center is rapidly hiring AI researchers while also doling out grants to PhD students.

A few years ago, Illiad spun off its cloud and hosting business to create Scaleway, which will also ramp up its AI cloud services. Scaleway has bought an NVIDIA DGX SuperPOD supercomputer which includes NVIDIA. Illiad/Scaleway bragged that this would be the "most powerful cloud-native AI supercomputer" in Europe. NVIDIA H100 GPUs, which are in high demand for AI and used by companies such as Metra and OpenAI. The supercomputer which cost an estimated €40 million.

"This investment represents a first step for the Group in achieving its near-term aim of increasing the computing power available to its customers," the company said in a statement.

And then there is there is Scaleway's European AI conference scheduled for November 17 at Station F. The attendance is set for about 1,000 people and the topics will concentrate on engineering and AI research. Prepare to get your AI nerd on. The Scaleway AI will now challenge the UK's AI summit for the European AI Conference Crown.

“When a tech revolution erupts we want to be part of it. 25 years ago, the revolution was the internet — and we were there. Today, it’s artificial intelligence — and we’re making sure we’re there for that too,” Niel told the AFP. "For artificial intelligence to work, you need three things: researchers, computing power and companies that exploit all that...

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