Who we are
Over the next five years the European Commission has ambitions to forge a plan for Europe’s digital transformation, including AI. But without a strong civil society taking part in the debate, Europe—and the world—risk missing opportunities to better society and instead, might choose a path paved with societal harm. This fund aims to strengthen civil society’s capacity to contribute to these tech policy discussions.
This fund aims to strengthen civil society’s ability to take on this crucial role: to be a more visible and more effective voice in public and policy debates about the role, form and shape that Europe’s digital transformation should take. Our goal is to bring in new actors to the debate, especially those that are working on issues affected by AI and Automated Decision Making and who want to build their capacity in this domain.
The fund’s long-term goal is to promote an ecosystem of European public interest and civil society organisations working on policy and technology, based on a diversity of actors and a plurality of goals that represents society as a whole.
About the European AI Fund
The fund is supported by the Robert Bosch Foundation, Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, Fondation Nicolas Puech, Ford Foundation, King Baudouin Foundation, Luminate, Mozilla Foundation, Oak Foundation, Open Society Foundations and Stiftung Mercator. We are a group of national, regional and international foundations working in Europe that are dedicated to using their resources—financial and otherwise—to strengthen civil society and deepen the pool of experts across Europe who have the tools, capacity and know-how to catalogue and monitor the social and political impact of AI and data driven interventions and hold them to account.
“In the debate over AI rules, the voice of civil society often gets lost. We believe that the broad interest of the public needs to be part of the European AI debate. Our goal is to give both financial and organizational support to institutions that have traditionally stood up for the public interest — such as consumer rights organisations, racial and economic justice organisations or labour unions — to boost their in-house AI expertise.”
Swee Leng Harris, Principal at Luminate, and Mark Surman, Executive Director of the Mozilla Foundation – Co-Chairs of the Fund’s board
“This fund supports crucial work at a crucial time. To steer the direction of Europe’s digital transformation we need a strong, diverse and effective ecosystem of civil society organisations. The conditions created by Covid have made this task more important and more urgent than ever.”
Frederike Kaltheuner, Fund Director
The European AI Fund is hosted by the Network for European Foundations (NEF) and is based in Brussels. NEF is an association of leading European foundations, dedicated to strengthening philanthropic cooperation. NEF initiatives are open to foundations interested in joining forces in different strands of work (democracy, social inclusion, international development).
The AI Fund’s governing body, the Steering Committee, is composed of the AI Fund’s partner foundations. The Steering Committee has two co-chairs. All participating donors are also encouraged to participate in the working goups that guide the selection of the grants.
The European AI Fund is managed by a Fund Director, Frederike Kaltheuner, who acts as the liaison between NEF, the fund’s grantees and its donors, as well as the Programme Manager Alexandra Toth.