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AI Watch

G4: AI thematic hotspots 


The indicator G4 - AI thematic hotspots, presents the geographical distribution of activities of each AI thematic area. It offers a view on the global performance and geographical hotspots of activity within each AI thematic area.

g4 formula


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.


This graph presents for each thematic area the percentage of activities by geographical area.

We note a concentration of AI services in Western countries, especially in the US (42.4% of worldwide AI Services are concentrated in this country), the EU (16.7%), and the UK (almost 10%). Along with this, we also detect a noteworthy concentration of activities related to Audio & NLP, Connected and Automated Vehicles (CAVs) and Autonomous Robotics in the US (22.8%, 31.5% and 41.7%, respectively), as well as activities related to Autonomous Robotics in the EU (21.9% of worldwide activities related to this thematic area).

China concentrates the vast majority of worldwide activities in five of the nine AI thematic areas: Automation (89.9%), Internet of Everything (87.5%), Machine Learning for Image processing (82.6%), Machine Learning Fundamentals (78.0%) and Computer Vision Applications (70.5%). China also has high proportions of worldwide activity in Audio and NLP (44.1%) and in CAVs (38.4%).   It is important to note that China is the geographical area that files the highest number of AI patent applications, supported by a series of governmental incentives and policies to boost AI patenting activity. Therefore China is especially concentrated in the AI thematic areas more closely connected to the development of AI-related technological components and algorithms, rather than in the provision of AI services. In South Korea and Japan the most important AI thematic areas are Audio & NLP, CAVs and Computer Vision Applications.

The European Union

This graph shows the G4 indicator for EU Member States and highlights the concentration of AI activities in very few countries.

Germany is the Member State that develops the highest number of AI activities in seven of the nine AI thematic areas, being top ranked in AI Services, Automation, CAVs, IoE, ML for Image Processing, ML Fundamentals and Autonomous Robotics. Overall, Germany is responsible for one fifth of all the EU’s activities in AI. Only in the domains of Audio & NLP and Computer Vision Applications is Germany is surpassed (for both by Belgium).

France, Spain and Belgium are the other three most active Member States in AI. Those four countries carry out more than 50% of activities in any AI thematic area in the EU (and 53% overall), highlighting how much AI activity in the EU is concentrated in a few countries.

The only other EU Member States that account for more than 10% within some AI thematic area are: Finland, in ML for Image Processing (10.6%); Italy, in Autonomous Robotics (11.7%); and Sweden, in CAVs (24.1%).


Factsheet1 February 2022
G4: AI thematic hotspot
(116.36 KB - PDF)