EU faces €5-10 billion investment gap on AI and blockchain – report

Of the €25 billion total investment in these technologies each year, the US and China account for more than 80%, while the EU's share only amounts to 7% or about €1.75 billion. [everything possible/Shutterstock]

The EU is not investing enough in artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain to keep up with the US and China and it should start investing €5-10 billion each year but also strengthen its eco-systems in order to be competitive, said a report published by the European Investment Bank on Tuesday. EURACTIV France reports.

In the report entitled “How disruptive technologies create opportunities for a green and digital economy”, the EIB took stock of investments in artificial intelligence and blockchain.

More specifically, the report analysed the barriers in the EU faced by investments in these technologies, which the EIB dubbed the “two most important revolutionary technologies of our time”, and how these have led to the US and China being far ahead in the field.

“Companies and governments in Europe are substantially underinvesting in AI and blockchain compared to other leading regions, and it has become clear that the European Union struggles to translate its scientific excellence into business application and economic success,” the report states.

Of the €25 billion total investment in these technologies each year, the US and China account for more than 80%, while the EU’s share only amounts to 7% or about €1.75 billion.

However, for the bloc to remain competitive, it should invest €5-10 billion per year in these two technologies, the EIB added.

The study pointed to several reasons for this “underinvestment”, including the limited availability of venture capital and private investment, limited appetite due to high initial investment needs, the lack of knowledge and low visibility of commercial applications, limited availability of data within the EU and a fragmented innovation ecosystem.

Although the issue is a digital sovereignty concern, the economic interests at stake are by no means insignificant.

“In 2019 it was estimated that global GDP could increase by up to 14% (the equivalent of €13.3 trillion) by 2030 as a result of the accelerating development and take-up of AI,” the study notes.

Unsurprisingly, the EIB recommended increasing both public and private investment in both technologies.

“However, funding alone is not enough. We also need to further strengthen and connect our eco-systems to turn bright ideas into commercial value faster and better,” said EIB vice-president Teresa Czerwińska in the report.

In Brussels, plans for €1 billion per year investment in AI under the Digital Europe and Horizon Europe programme are currently being drafted. On top of that, the EU aims to attract more than €20 billion a year in investments over the next decade.

EU launches AI blueprint in bid to become world leader

The European Commission has presented on Wednesday (21 April) a long-waiting ‘AI package’. The proposal is the first-ever attempt to regulate AI and has been developed as part of a broader ambition to make Europe a global leader in the field by being the first to set clear guidelines.

[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]

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