IBM formalizes its largest French R&D center focused on AI

Located on the Saclay plateau, IBM France’s research and co-innovation center has been open since early 2021, but has just been inaugurated in the presence of its chairman Batrice Kosowski and the state secretary for digital Cdric O. 200 researchers, data scientists and business developers of different profiles are present with a long-term target of 350 employees.

This time. Two and a half years after its presentation – in the form of a model – the IBM France research and co-innovation center in Paris Saclay has just been officially inaugurated, with much fanfare with the cutting of a ribbon and the striking presence of – Prefect of Palaiseau Alexander Grimaud, the Secretary of State for Digital, Cédric O and the President of IBM France Béatrice Kosowski. François Durovray, president of the departmental council of Essonne, Grégoire de Lasteyrie, president of the Paris-Saclay agglomeration community and regional councilor for Ile de France, as well as David Ros, the mayor of the city of Orsay; were also present at this inauguration. This project, whose building dates back to 2016, was the subject of an earlier presentation, at the time as a model in April 2019.

Since then there has been water but especially the health crisis, which has pushed the launch of the site to this Friday December 17, 2021, although the site has welcomed its first researchers, educators, data scientists, business developers since January 2021 … It is This is the largest IBM’s R&D center in the region, ahead of those in Sofia Antipolis, Montpellier and Pornichet. The specialty of the works is focused on artificial intelligence – or supplemented in the jargon of big blue – but this will not be exclusive. Indeed, the group is considering adding other strings to its arc of skills on this site, particularly in quantum computing, although this is not yet relevant. In any case, recruitment will intensify in the coming months and not just for the big blue center: “We insist that researchers, big names and all kinds of roles meet all kinds of needs, including data scientists and architects,” explains Béatrice Kosowski. “We strive for a cooperation model based on international stimulation”.

Sequence of the official inauguration with the symbolic cutting of the ribbon by the Secretary of State for Digital Cédric O, joined to his left by Béatrice Kosowski (President of IBM France) and Harley Davis, Vice President France Lab and of the IBM hybrid cloud division. (credit: DF)

10 nationalities represented

Currently, the group has carried out several AI projects with the support of its teams of 10 different nationalities – in the fields of medicine, autonomous boats and data explainability. “We are working on data extraction to understand, for example, fraud phenomena in payments with STE,” explains Harley Davis, vice president of France Lab and IBM’s hybrid cloud division, also a former director of Ilog, acquired by the firm Armonk. The Ilog teams are very well represented among the workforce, with about a hundred people, or 50% of the center’s current teams. For the administrator, the technologies developed and the uses on which they are based are not intended to remain in France. Rather, “all the technologies we develop, everything we do, are for global use,” says Harley Davis.

Saclay IBM R&D center team

The teams at IBM’s co-innovation center Saclay in Paris are of different nationalities, currently about ten in total. (credit: DF)

One of the hallmarks of this IBM center is its teams with a job creation dynamics that are far from exclusive to the French, as it employs about thirty foreigners in its workforce. A necessity for the publisher to promote the dynamics of exchange, sharing of views, varied analytical approaches that enrich the research. Why Saclay? The site is home to 50,000 students and associate researchers and “it was absolutely necessary to be here,” underlined Harley Davis. For IBM, this place makes it possible to attract natural talents and a favorite country in mathematics (Saclay is the first university in the ranking of Shanghai in this category) and to bring together business, public and private research with IBM, whereby 20% of French research.

When asked about the relevance of supporting the development of AI initiatives from US vendors such as IBM, Cédric O gave us the following clarification: “US power is largely based on attracting international talent and their ability to bring in investment. is the dialectic that we have to achieve, the goal is obviously to strengthen the technological base and French and European sovereignty. But we have to attract the masses, we need this international dimension.” With regard to the restrictions on sovereignty and data protection as an American player based in the area, Béatrice Kosowski responded: “we are a cloud player with a whole set of trusted technologies in Germany and soon in Madrid and a new generation MZR cloud that we have privately at BNP-Paribas with certification levels which are very close to SecNumCloud, for example with C5 in Germany. We will continue to invest in very specific technologies to increase security and the level of trust. As for sovereign cloud offerings, our approach is to form alliances with players who have SecNumCloud labels, but we are considering other possible approaches, we’re not done on the subject yet. All economic players may not want to go for a SecNumCloud offering because of the high prices and will consider our cloud and technology.”

Speaking of the news of the BP2I spin-off, the IBM president also stated: “The aim is to complete this adjustment of the partnership between BNP and IBM by the end of the year, brought by several elements, the first the increase in banking regulation, the second is a lot of work to transform and industrialize this fully mature joint subsidiary and we have our own outsourcing transformation with Kyndryl.All of this led us to jointly decide on the evolution of the BP2I model to However, the strategic partnership between BNP and IBM is huge in all areas: mainframe, cyber tools, automation and our entire software portfolio, as well as in revamped consulting that will keep us engaged in these areas for several years to come. new generation of cloud.private, so BNPP is doing well.”

Leading AI projects

Case Study IBM Paris Saclay

One of the AI ​​projects being conducted at IBM’s R&D center in Saclay is the analysis of brain cancers. (credit: DF)

The teams devote themselves daily to global R&D missions in the field of artificial intelligence and collaborate with academic and industrial partners, in particular the University of Paris-Saclay and French SMEs and ETIs on the AIDA program “AI for digital automation”. In particular, with a solution to detect fraud in cash flows

Among the projects the IBM R&D center is working on are explainability but also modeling of the waves and analysis of the seabed to identify the animals present to avoid collisions with autonomous ships. Co-innovation center whose investment has not been disclosed, but which is strategic. “Attract talent and inspire”, for Béatrice Kosowski, also highlighting the quality of life at work for all researchers, data scientists, product owners and consultants.

IBM R&D workstation ergonomics in Saclay

For the teams on site, special attention was paid to the ergonomics of the workplaces. (credit: DF)

“Innovation is a model for bringing global ambitions to France,” said IBM’s CEO. And Cédric O added: “In a sector where the stakes are exceptional, AI is a symbol of ambition for France”, recalling the government’s commitment in this area with the AI ​​plan and the latest budget envelope of 2 billion euros . “In a system where there is even more information, we need even more AI to be even more efficient.” And the minister underlined the need for better political cooperation and investment near Paris Saclay, while the global reading schedule in the United States and China is moving towards innovation, France must not become transparent and, on the contrary, must face the challenges.

Landscape Architecture Paris Saclay IBM R&D Center

The exterior facades are currently being developed, especially with a water body. (credit: DF)

A building of high environmental quality

The IBM site, housed on the Saclay plateau with many leading research organizations and educational institutions, including the Ecole Polytechnique, occupies an area of ​​nearly 6,000 m2. Designed by architect Paul Mayla and based on the expertise of Société de la Tour Eiffel, this center has many attractions. Both in terms of intrinsic build quality (HQE Excellence certification that ensures high environmental quality and acoustic and energy performance with heat pumps, and high comfort) and layout. “We looked at researchers’ habits of adapting the space to their needs with isolated spaces to focus well, collaborative spaces to collaborate well, and playful spaces to decompress from time to time,” explains Harley Davis.

IBM Paris Saclay Fair

A fair that is conducive to presentations and exchanges in a hospitable setting. (credit: DF)

The IBM building shares the site with that of the Community of Plateau de Saclay (CPS) with a total area of ​​13,000 m2. The supplier is the lessor of the property, a lease has been concluded for a period of 9 years under a contract type BEFA (rental agreement in future state of delivery). If this site is designed to accommodate 400 people, IBM plans to eventually accommodate “just” 350 employees, knowing there are currently 200. It should be noted that given the health context, only 15% of the current workforce is physically present on the scene, three quarters of the troops at a distance. But that does not mean that it is always the same teams that are on site, there is rotation. The building is designed around large spaces – 3 large halls – with a lot of work in terms of light incidence and the presence of passageways, balconies, terraces and a garden to improve the living environment at work.

IBM Saclay

The building that houses IBM benefits from a high environmental quality certification at the “Excellent” level. (credit: shooting)

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