EIB strengthens focus on global development and supports € 4.8 billion in new finance for energy, transport, COVID vaccines and business investment
On June 1, the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the European Commission published a new study on the state of advancement of artificial intelligence and blockchain technologies in the European Union: “Artificial intelligence, blockchain and the future of Europe: How disruptive technologies are creating opportunities for a green and digital economy. The study was carried out by the EIB’s innovation finance advisory team in close collaboration with DG CONNECT as part of the InnovFin program – a joint initiative of the EIB and the European Commission to support innovators Europeans.
Read the summary online here
Download the full study here
Artificial intelligence and blockchain technologies have the potential to revolutionize the way we work, travel, relax and organize our societies and our daily lives. Already today, they are improving our world: Artificial intelligence has been crucial in accelerating the development and production of COVID-19 vaccines, while blockchain has the potential not only to disrupt the financial system, but also to help us to better monitor and report greenhouse gas emissions. , optimize commercial transport and create real data privacy protection. The further development of both technologies – guided by ethical and sustainability principles – has the potential to create new avenues for our growth, driving technological solutions to make our societies truly digital and greener, and ultimately keep the planet livable.
The report released today shows that compared to major global competitors, the European Union is lagging behind in the development and deployment of artificial intelligence and blockchain technologies. To catch up, however, the European Union can draw on its leadership role in high-quality research and its vast pool of digital talent.
“The real added value of artificial intelligence and blockchain is still ahead of us – in industrial, commercial and public applications. This is where Europe can catch up and even take the lead ”, said Teresa Czerwińska, Vice-President of the EIB, which is responsible for the EIB’s investments in innovation. “At the same time, we have to make sure that the development of these technologies is targeted and respects our European values. We must step up our joint efforts. To do this, our study shows that among other things, we need to invest more and more quickly, especially in early-stage startups. With the EIB Group, EU countries have the ideal instrument to stimulate and intensify the development of data-driven solutions, bring excellence in market research and help build a greener and more intelligent and therefore a stronger Europe.
“AI and blockchain technologies are essential to foster innovation, competitiveness and sustainable economic growth. They offer unprecedented opportunities as key enablers of digital and green transformation. It is therefore essential to stimulate investment in the development and adoption of these disruptive technologies in Europe ”, said Roberto Viola, Director General of DG CONNECT, Directorate-General for Communication, Networks, Content and Technology, at the European Commission.
Is the European Union maintaining itself in the global race for artificial intelligence and blockchain?
The study shows that the largest number of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) involved in artificial intelligence and blockchain are found in the United States (2,995), followed by China (1,418) and the EU27 (1232). The UK is another notable player (495). Within the EU27, the largest number of firms are in Germany and Austria, followed by Southern Europe, France and Central, Eastern and South Eastern Europe (EU13).
For available funding, it already seems like a two-horse race between the United States and China: together, they account for more than 80% of the 25 billion euros in annual equity invested in artificial intelligence technologies. and blockchain, while the EU27 represents only 7% of this total, investing around 1.75 billion euros per year. Overall, according to the study, the The estimated investment gap in artificial intelligence and blockchain technologies in Europe could reach 10 billion euros per year.
One of the explanations for this gap is the limited role played by large institutional investors such as pension funds, insurers and foundations in funding late stage startups involved in artificial intelligence and blockchain.
Geographical distribution of small and medium-sized enterprises in artificial intelligence and blockchain, 2020
Source: Crunchbase data, analysis by Oliver Wyman
Can the European Union catch up?
The study shows that the business environment across the EU27 has strong potential for competition with the United States and China. The EU27 has more specialist researchers than its peers and generally produces the most technological university research. Some Member States are performing well in the digital segment, indicating that the region is in a good position to deploy artificial intelligence and blockchain technologies in different sectors.
Europe also has the largest pool of artificial intelligence research talent, with an estimated 43,064 in the field (including 7,998 in the UK), compared to 28,536 in the US and 18,232 in China.
What must the European Union do to catch up?
The study identifies three major areas that need to be addressed in the European artificial intelligence and blockchain landscape. The challenges encompass development, market deployment and the wider EU innovation ecosystem. As a result, more funding must be made available to develop and develop EU businesses. It highlights the need for joint European efforts to pool financial resources from the public and private sectors to support the scale-up of the most innovative AI and blockchain companies in Europe. The deployment of both technologies must also be supported by supporting their adoption in the market. And to develop further, European innovation clusters must be better connected to increase the flow of talent, experience and access to funding.
Read the detailed recommendations and the full report here
Explanation: What is artificial intelligence and blockchain?
Artificial intelligence, as the term tends to be used today, is the theory and practice of building machines capable of performing tasks that appear to require intelligence. Currently, cutting edge technologies that strive to make this a reality include machine learning, artificial neural networks and deep learning.
Block chain is essentially a new filing system for digital information, which stores data in an encrypted and distributed ledger format. It is a transparent and decentralized way to record transaction lists. Since the data is encrypted and distributed over many different computers, this allows the creation of tamper-proof and very robust databases, which can only be read and updated by authorized persons.
The opportunities presented by the two technologies are very likely to be combined to create new products, services, assets or even forms of governance. Artificial intelligence can be seen here as the “thinking” part and blockchain as the “remembering” part.
The EIB is one of the largest European innovation financiers, with investments in innovation, digitization and human capital of more than 230 billion euros since 2000. The EIB Group has invested more than 2 billion euros euros in core AI technologies and AI-related applications, digital networks and projects in the past two years. The EIB also supports investments beyond the European Union.
About the InnovFin program
InnovFin – EU funding for innovators is a joint initiative launched by the European Investment Bank Group (EIB and FEI) in cooperation with the European Commission under Horizon 2020. InnovFin aims to facilitate and accelerate access to finance for innovative companies and other innovative entities in Europe. Please Click here for products available under the InnovFin program.
InnovFin Advisory helps eligible public and private counterparties to improve the bankability and investment readiness of large, complex and innovative projects that require substantial long-term investments.