Dr Juha Heikkilä joined the European Commission in 1998 and currently works in its Directorate-General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology (DG Connect). For more than 11 years, he has been working in the unit now called Robotics and Artificial Intelligence, first as a Project Officer, since 2008 as the Deputy Head of Unit, and since May 2014 as the Head of Unit. The unit has been funding a multidisciplinary research programme on Cognitive Systems and Robotics for about 12 years, focusing on smarter and more flexible robots and artificial systems. In recent years, the annual budget has been between €70 million and €80 million.
At the beginning of the current EU seven-year funding programme, Horizon 2020, the unit set up a Public-Private Partnership in Robotics, which brings together all the key stakeholders in the area. In this partnership the unit will invest up to €700 million via Horizon 2020 in roadmap-based research and innovation in robotics over a seven-year period. Previously, Dr Heikkilä was involved in computational and corpus linguistic research at the University of Helsinki, and he did a PhD in Linguistics at the University of Cambridge.