• G.R.A.I.L.



In collaboration with its partners around the globe Mindfire runs the Global Robotics and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, in short GRAIL. GRAIL is designed as a research initiative that unites creative researchers around the world to collaborate in both physical and virtual spaces and labs. GRAIL’s mission control is currently hosted at the University of Zurich in Switzerland. The goal of GRAIL is to understand the principles of human level intelligence in all its facets by promoting excellence in basic research, education, and society at large. With our activities we hope to contribute to making the world a better place in the 21st century.



Conceptually, Artificial Intelligence hasn’t made significant qualitative progress for decades. Today, AI is used to describe a plethora of things and the term is still as misleading as it was in the 1950s. Despite limited progress in the past, governments and corporations are currently pouring billions into achieving AI's final frontier - human-level intelligence. Such intelligence entails essential traits like caring, empathy, sharing, ingenuity, and innovation. Unless there is a paradigm shift in the research community, these human intelligence traits will be elusive to machines for many decades to come. As AI’s impact on society accelerates, a benevolent purpose for human-level intelligence has to be set. A purpose focused on the key challenges for humanity, society and our planet as a whole. 

“We know very well what to expect of an autonomously behaving animal or of a human being, yet it is all too plain that when dealing with digital devices we get nothing but long past human thought trying to foresee the current situation.”

Prof. Dr. Christoph von der Malsburg,  CoFounder, Mindfire


GRAIL is fully decentralized and scalable intelligence research organization with a permanent lab at the University of Zurich. GRAIL aims at building the largest research network of talents and scientists around the world. GRAIL employs latest recruiting and collaboration technology to build the most powerful problem solving network in the world. GRAIL’s key research subject is embodiment. The notion of embodiment has dramatic implications for our understanding of intelligence. For example, behavior is not the result of brain processes only, but of a subtle interplay between brain, body (morphology and materials) and environment; an insight that contradicts the classical Cartesian position. According to this perspective, morphological and material characteristics of an organism can take over a large part of its functionality.



Mindfire applies a synthetic methodology – “understanding by building” – marrying engineering and science and follows the brilliance of evolutionary design.

"What I cannot create, I do not understand?"

Richard Feynman,  Nobel Prize Physics 1965

GRAIL develops tangible prototypes so as to explore the principles of intelligence, culminating in the development of an augmented scientist: a system that increases research performance and efficiency in science, ultimately becoming an automated research tool – a human-level artificial scientist. GRAIL’s research focus grounds on the principles of embodied cognition and follows the principle of “Understanding by building”.


GRAIL employs a staged competitive grant structure that allows different approaches and concepts to stand the test of a prototype. In order to guide this search for a principle, each chosen AI research challenge will tackle a different hitherto unsolved problem, referred to as “quests”. Over time, solutions developed by GRAIL will find application in many further quests and will also lead to interesting questions, thereby tackling the principles of human level intelligence.

The goal of the Mindfire Foundation is to build human-level intelligence before 2030. To achieve this, the Mindfire Foundation has introduced ten stages, called Missions. Mission-1 took place in May 2018 and successfully united the 50 talents and experts in Davos and introduced different collaboration models as well as a blockchain-based documentation of assets relevant to the creation of intellectual property.