Helmholtz AI conference 2022: #HelmholtzAIcon

With 200 participants onsite and over 220 virtual participants, the Helmholtz AI conference 2022 was the ideal opportunity to learn about Helmholtz AI, the different fields of AI research, exchange ideas about AI projects, discuss future AI research and further expand the Helmholtz AI network.

For a data-driven future, it is key to maximise the impact of our AI research and address challenges of societal relevance. We invited all AI enthusiasts and experts to the Helmholtz AI conference 2022, with around 450 attendees from the Helmholtz Association, national and international research institutions and industry. The two-day conference was organized as a hybrid event and took place at Maritim Hotel & Internationales Congress Center Dresden from  2 - 3 June, where attendees got the opportunity to listen to a broad range of great talks in applied AI, to connect during the poster session and the networking event, to get a great overview of our Helmholtz AI consultant teams and to watch an engaging panel discussion on fairness, bias, legal questions as well as trustworthiness of AI. Three units of Helmholtz AI were organizing this great event together: Helmholtz Munich, German Aerospace Center (DLR) and Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR). Heidi Seibold moderated both days and guided conferees through two exciting days.

Image: Group of conference participants talking at the networking event on the terrace of Maritim Hotel & Internationales Congress Center Dresden.

After opening remarks by the CEOs of the three Helmholtz Centers Prof. Dr.-Ing. An­ke Kays­ser-Py­zal­la from DLR, Prof. Dr. Matthias Tschöp from Helmholtz Munich and Prof. Dr. Dr. hc. mult. Sebastian M. Schmidt from HZDR, Xiaoxiang Zhu from DLR opened the conference officially highlighting all the outstanding speakers with their diverse research backgrounds and introduced the program to the audience.

Images: Xiaoxiang Zhu (DLR, left) and Fabian Theis (Helmholtz Munich, right).


Fabian Theis, scientific director of Helmholtz AI provided an overview of the Helmholtz AI platform with its mission & vision, AI consultants & voucher system, research groups, project calls, Helmholtz AI associates program and different networking, information and training events such as the Helmholtz AI CountMein Challenge and the “From Zero to Hero” Summer School. He showed the development of Helmholtz AI over the last years and an overview of Helmholtz AI’s partners, such as the Helmholtz International BigBrain Analytics and Learning Laboratory (HIBALL), the European Laboratory for Learning and Intelligent Systems (ELLIS) with its Munich Unit and the Helmholtz AI computing resources (HAICORE) and the expansion with the Institute of AI for Health (AIH) and the Institute for Drug Discovery (AID). His presentation was complemented by research highlights from each of the six Helmholtz AI local units and a look into the future direction of Helmholtz AI.

The scientific talks for the sessions on both days were divided into different categories:

For the topic Applications the speakers Conrad Albrecht (DLR), Shijie Jiang (UFZ), Kurt Schmoller (Helmholtz Munich), Ruth Schöbel (FZJ), Ali Al-Fatlawi (TU Dresden), Attila Cangi (CASUS), Robin Spanier (DLR), Esteban Vaca (FZJ) and Erik Thiessenhussen (HZDR) were giving exciting talks. For the topic Deep Learning we could win Bashir Kazimi (HEREON), Mathias Kuhl (DLR), Jan Lewen (DLR) and Eric Upschulte (FZJ) as speakers. Ivica Obadic (TU München) gave us interesting insights of his research in the topic Social Aspects of Machine Learning. Jannes Münchmeyer (GFZ) and Daniel Coquelin (KIT) showed us their research results in the topic Infrastructure. Lenz Fiedler (CASUS), Nikolaos Nikolaou (Helmholtz Munich) and Georg Siedel (BAuA) spoke about their research in the topic General Machine Learning

Moreover, a local session with speakers from the Dresden/Saxonian science and industry landscape could be organised. Michael Bussmann (CASUS), Martin Voigt (elevait GmbH), Sebastian Bodenstedt (NCT Dresden) and Niklas Paulig (TU Dresden / ScaDS.AI) gave an insight into their AI relevant expertise.

The Helmholtz AI conference 2022 featured two distinguished keynote speakers: Beth A. Plale (Executive Director of IU’s Pervasive Technology Institute and Michael A and Laurie Burns McRobbie Bicentennial Professor of Computer Engineering both at Indiana University Bloomington, Indiana) spoke about Intelligent Cyberinfrastructure for Democratizing Artificial Intelligence, and Ivo Sbalzarini (Professor of Computer Science, TU Dresden, Chair of Scientific Computing for Systems Biology, Center for Systems Biology Dresden) explained Data-driven Modeling of Living Matter.

Images: Beth A. Plale (Indiana University Bloomington, left) and Ivo Sbalzarini (TU Dresden, right).

During the panel discussion Prof. Dr. Mrinalini Kochupillai (TU Munich - legal questions / ethics), Dr. Ralph Müller-Pfefferkorn (TU Dresden - data availability) and Kirill Bykov (TU Berlin - trustworthiness/explainability) discussed the exciting developments in the area of fairness, bias, legal questions, and trustworthiness of AI together with the audience and gave many new impulses.

Image: Sitting from left to right: Heidi Seibold, Ralph Müller-Pfefferkorn (TU Dresden), Kirill Bykov (TU Berlin), Mrinalini Kochupillai (TU Munich).

In the consulting session the voucher system was presented to the participants. Andrés Camero (DLR), Stefan Kesselheim (FZJ), Tobias Weigel (HEREON), Christina Bukas (Helmholtz Munich), Peter Steinbach (HZDR) and Markus Götz (KIT) - all consultant leaders or consultants from each unit - introduced their team and showed scientific highlights of their work.

As the Helmholtz AI community grows we are organizing more and more events. Two highlights of them were introduced: first, Markus Götz (KIT) talked about the AI HERO Hackathon in February 2022 organized by Helmholtz AI, Helmholtz Information and Data Science Academy (HIDA), Helmholtz Imaging (HI) and Helmholtz Metadata Collaboration (HMC), respectively DKFZ and KIT. The winners in the Energy challenge were the `Dynamic Ants’ (T. Schanz, V. Zenchenko, S. Sharma, Hereon), the winners of the Health challenge the `Red Warriors` (M. Baumgartner, T. Wald, G. Köhler, DKFZ). The second challenge - the Helmholtz AI CountMeIn Challenge - organised by DLR, KIT and FZJ was running right before the conference. Andres Camero (DLR) and Stefan Kesselheim (FZJ) announced the winners at the conference: the GoFast track was won by Yan Ji (FZJ) and the GoGreen track was won by Alina Bazarova (FZJ) and Sabrina Narimene Benassou (FZJ).

Images: Left: Andrés Camero (DLR), Stefan Kesselheim (FZJ) and Yan Ji (FZJ). Right: Alina Bazarova (FZJ) and Sabrina Narimene Benassou (FZJ).

As networking was one of the major goals of the conference, conference participants were encouraged to submit a digital scientific poster providing an overview of the broad variety of use cases, scientific methods and projects the Helmholtz AI community is working on; more than 70 posters, clustered by different categories, were discussed at the evening session on June 2nd after 15 chosen lightning talks had been given. A jury consisting of Xiaoxiang Zhu (DLR), Richard Bamler (DLR), Timo Dickscheid (FZJ), Guido Juckeland (HZDR) and Fabian Theis (Helmholtz Munich) from the Helmholtz AI steering board selected the three best posters. Sugandha Doda (TU Munich) won the first prize with her poster entitled ‘SO2SAT POP – a curated benchmark data set for population estimation from space on a continental scale’ which was an AI enabled Graphics Card sponsored by Sysgen. The second and third prize winners were Patrick Stiller (HZDR) with the poster entitled ‘In Situ Surrogate Model Training via Streaming’ and Rushin Gindra (Helmholtz AI) with his poster ‘Locally attentive graph transformers for spatial transcriptomics’.

Images: Left: Poster session on the evening of 2 June. Right: Jury member and poster prize winners from left to right: Richard Bamler (DLR), Rushin Gindra (Helmholtz AI), Patrick Stiller (HZDR), Sugandha Doda (TU Munich) and Guido Juckeland (HZDR).

During the networking event after the poster session, one could not only exchange scientific knowledge with other conference participants, but also toast together and enjoy the great view on the terraces of the location over the Elbe.

Many thanks to Timm Bourry, our great photographer, who made all these amazing pictures for us!


More information

More information on the Helmholtz AI conference 2022 can be found at:

We hope to see you next year at the Helmholtz AI conference 2023!