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G3: AI areas of specialisation: comparative advantage in AI thematic areas


The G3 – AI areas of specialisation: comparative advantages in AI thematic areas indicator explores the specialisation of geographical areas in the AI field by means of their revealed comparative advantage (RCA). It measures a country’s specialisation in a thematic area in comparison with the global average specialisation for that area.

g3 formula


The RCA is a ratio calculated as share 1 / share 2: share 1 is the share of activities of a geographical area in a thematic area (or technological subdomain) in the total amount of activities in that geographical area; share 2 is the share of activities in that thematic area worldwide in the total amount of activities worldwide. For the calculation activities are assigned to the thematic area that best represents the activity’s content (resulting from a topic-modelling analysis). Since a RCA value of 1 represents the global average specialisation, this is taken as the benchmark (it is represented as a red dashed line in the graph). When the RCA is greater than 1 for a geographical area in an AI thematic area, that geographical area has a comparative advantage in that AI thematic area.

The types of AI activities tracked are: business activities (firms with a core business in AI), research activities (scientific articles in top AI and Robotics international conferences), and innovative activities (AI-related filed priority patent applications). Additionally, a fourth group is considered: the AI-related EC-funded projects. International comparability is granted when the first three groups are used. EC-funded projects are only used for the in-depth analysis of the EU and its Member States.

We use the textual information contained in the activities of the collected microdata to infer their technological content. Through a topic model we identify the following thematic areas or technological subdomains of AI.

  • Audio & Natural Language Processing (NLP),
  • Computer Vision Applications,
  • Machine Learning (ML) Fundamentals,
  • ML for Image Processing
  • Internet of Everything (IoE),
  • Automation,
  • Autonomous Robotics,
  • Connected and Automated Vehicles (CAVs),
  • AI Services


This indicator presents large values in the thematic area of AI Services, which refers to the provision of AI services and applications, including infrastructure, software and platform services. All major countries except Japan, South Korea and China have a value larger than 2. On the one hand, this indicates a clear orientation of western areas economies towards the development of businesses based on AI services. On the other, it also reflects the different involvement of China, Japan and South Korea in the AI landscape, which are more oriented towards the development of patents.

The advantage of the EU is especially evident in two thematic areas.

  • The first is AI Services, highlighting the salient role of the EU AI players in the provision of services between firms (B2B) or to the end-consumers (B2C).
  • The second is Autonomous Robotics, which is expected to positively affect the EU’s competitiveness and sustainability in industry and services, and is increasingly impacting many sectors, such as health, logistics or manufacturing, among others

The European Union

Regarding EU Member States, some Eastern European countries, such as Romania, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Poland and Croatia, show high RCA values in the thematic area of Automation. However, these countries are not involved in many AI activities, and in some cases this high RCA is the result of a relatively higher concentration in this AI thematic area, even if the number of related activities is small.

We note strong specialisations in Belgium and Ireland for Audio & NLP, in Spain for Automation, in Sweden for Connected and Automated Vehicles (CAVs), in Belgium for Computer Vision Applications, in Belgium and Ireland for Machine Learning Fundamentals, in Belgium and Finland for Machine Learning for Image Processing, and in Greece and Italy for Autonomous Robotics .


Factsheet1 February 2022
G3: AI areas of specialisation - Comparative Advantage in Thematic Areas