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News article7 October 2021Joint Research Centre2 min read

New AI Watch report: 2020 EU AI investments

AI Watch: 2020 EU AI investments thumb

The latest AI Watch report “AI Watch: 2020 EU AI investments”, is the only existing attempt to estimate economy-wide AI investments and monitor them consistently over time. This is key in monitoring of the implementation of the Coordinated Plan on Artificial Intelligence, and especially the progress toward the € 20 billion annual investment target to be reached by 2030.

Results show that in 2019, the EU invested between €7.9 and €9 billion in AI, which corresponds to 40-45% of the annual investment target. The report also estimates that, compared to 2018, EU AI investments increased by €2.1-2.5 billion and that, if the EU maintains a similar level of growth, by 2025 AI investments will reach € 22.4 billion and surpass the € 20 billion target by over 10%.

The approach taken in this report attempts to include all relevant investment types and actors contributing to the AI-driven revolution. To do so, this methodology:

  • considers AI as a general-purpose technology assuming that, to trigger the wave of AI-driven innovation, we need to combine support and funding of AI technological development with its translation into new business models and processes
  • goes beyond direct investments in the development and adoption of AI technologies, considering also investment in complementary assets and capabilities such as skills, data, product design and organisational capital
  • groups AI-related investments into four investment targetsSkills, R&D, Data and equipment and Intangible assets.


Here below are some relevant figures and conclusions from the report:

  • In 2019, investments in Skills accounted for 53%.
  • AI-related Data and equipment and R&D represented 30% and 10% of the total AI investments
  • Investments in Intangible assets, including brand, organisational capital and design, accounted for the remaining 7% of AI investments.
  • Public sector accounts for 41% of total AI investments in 2019, including expenses on AI education and the adoption of AI technologies by the public sector.
  • Private sector recorded a higher increase in spending than the public sector (45% vs 31% y-o-y growth) with the largest increase recorded in the Data and equipment asset category

National level

The methodology and report provide a useful estimate for Member States’ policy makers on the volume and direction of their national AI investment and its components, and help them compare their investment levels to those of other countries.

In fact, data show that the highest absolute amounts are spent by the largest countries, like France and Germany, while in terms of AI investment per capita, Nordic countries and Ireland are the top scorers. The large variations found among the countries in per capita expenditures are is likely to reflect structural differences between their economies, different levels of AI readiness as well as prioritisation of AI in the national strategies.

At the end of 2021, the AI Watch team plans to publish an updated report on AI investments that will include revised figures for 2018 and 2019, as well as new estimates for 2020.


Publication date
7 October 2021
Joint Research Centre