Serbia is investing 100 million euros in the development of AI by 2026.

Serbia will invest 100 million euros in the development of artificial intelligence over the next two years. The strategic framework for this endeavor is expected to be provided by the new Artificial Intelligence Development Strategy until 2030, which will be one of the priorities of the new Government, along with its accompanying Action Plan. The goal is for Serbia to become a leader in the region in this field, as stated at a session of the NALED eGovernment Alliance.

According to Stefan Badža, leader of the special projects team at the Office of the Prime Minister, the focus of work on the new strategy is to provide a more flexible regulatory framework and incentives for companies wishing to adopt innovations. He also reminded that legislative activities in this area were initiated in 2023, and Ethical Guidelines for the Development of Artificial Intelligence were adopted in collaboration with NALED.

"This year, we will begin work on drafting laws, following EU activities, i.e., adopting the Artificial Intelligence Regulation expected in April. By the end of 2026, we plan to invest 30 million euros in another supercomputer, which will be free for researchers and startups, 20 million euros in software for the public sector, primarily in healthcare, energy, and transport, as well as 30 million euros in incentives for the development of artificial intelligence. Additionally, we will invest in startups, as a quarter of them are developing AI solutions," said Badža, inviting stakeholders to participate in drafting the new strategy so that Serbia can have a draft act regulating this area by the end of the year.

The first strategy for the development of artificial intelligence in Serbia was adopted in 2019, making Serbia the first country in Southeast Europe and the 26th in the world to have such a document.

NALED will be part of the working group for drafting the new strategy, said Dragana Ilić, president of the eGovernment Alliance and Corporate Affairs Director at CETIN. She emphasized that the availability of broadband internet is a prerequisite for the use of artificial intelligence, which will be the focus this year.

"We are pleased that Serbia has taken important steps towards the development of artificial intelligence. Among the most important priorities of the Alliance for this year are further development of eServices, improving the regulatory framework for the development of digital infrastructure and 5G technologies, enhancing protection, opening up and reusing data through the development of artificial intelligence and smart city concepts," said Ilić.

Dubravko Ćulibrk, director of the Institute for Artificial Intelligence, presented the activities and current projects of the institution. According to him, the vision of the Institute is to become a center of excellence that develops experts in the field of applied artificial intelligence and contributes to the creation of a knowledge-based economy.

"One of the projects we are currently working on is transcribing all audio recordings of RTS into textual form, which will provide us with a data corpus that will be the basis for some of our ChatGPT. We have also developed translation software for 53 languages, which we are still improving. In collaboration with the Ministry of Health, we are working on a model for processing mammograms, which operates on the principle of alerting when a finding requires additional attention from a doctor. Since floods are a frequent occurrence in our country, we are currently developing solutions for their prediction and prevention. Our team currently consists of about 50 researchers," said Ćulibrk.

It's worth noting that Serbia became part of the Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence in 2022 and is one of the few members from the group of developing countries, and in 2023, it became a member of the World Economic Forum's AI Governance Alliance. According to the Artificial Intelligence Readiness Index for 2023, Serbia ranks 57th out of 193 ranked countries, as a regional leader ahead of Croatia (70), Montenegro (78), North Macedonia (83), Albania (89), and Bosnia and Herzegovina (117).

The first session of the eGovernment Alliance this year was held with the support of the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) and the project "Public Procurement and Good Governance for Greater Competitiveness."

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