Artificial Intelligence for Image Data Analysis in the Life Sciences (AI4Life)

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning provide powerful approaches, technologies, tools and methods, for automated image analysis, and can thus help to increase efficiency and effectiveness of plant phenotyping (and many other fields of biological research).  However, although they have already proven to accelerate frontier research in life sciences, an democratised access to such methods is not given yet. Additionally, existing methods and tools are typically insufficiently documented and at times even hard to find, especially for life scientists without computational expertise. Furthermore, a lack of standards to enable sharing of pre-trained AI-based models between different analysis tools exists, which severely restricts interoperability within and across the life science domain.

EMPHASIS thus cooperates with nine  leading partners in that field in the project AI4Life to radically reduce this disparity between the theoretical potential and practical use of state of the art AI-based analysis methods in life sciences.

In concrete terms, the project aims at:

  • Democratizing availability of AI-based image analysis methods as FAIR services;
  • Establishing standards for submission, storage and FAIR access of reference data, reference annotations (ground-truth), trained AI models, and trainable AI methods;
  • Simpling model deployment, sharing, and dissemination of AI-based methods as a new developer-facing service;
  • Organizing Open Calls and Challenges for outstanding image analysis problems in the EU Mission areas of the Horizon Europe framework programme;
  • Empowering common image analysis platforms by AI tools;
  • Organizing outreach and training events for life scientists as targeted image analysis courses and workshops as well as by participation in the largest international conferences;


The fulfilment of these objectives will consequently enable life scientists with and without computational expertise to fully exploit the latest AI-based image analysis methods, to share their own models and annotated reference data and to drive the development of novel solutions to remaining problems through open calls and challenges.

EMPHASIS will help to build competences in the community by outreach and training events and by dissemination towards its wide-spread user communities.

AI4Life is a 3-year project funded with 4 million Euros via Horizon Europe and coordinated by the European Landmark Research Infrastructure for Biological and Biomedical Imaging Euro-BioImaging ( It is expected to start towards the end of 2022.