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AI Watch Index: Policy relevant dimensions to assess Europe’s performance in artificial intelligence


Publication date
6 May 2021
Joint Research Centre
Topic area
  • AI landscape


The AI Watch Index presented in this report provides a structured set of indicators to understand the performance and positioning of the EU in artificial intelligence (AI), in quantitative terms. The proposed indicators are selected from the activity performed within the realm of AI Watch, in an attempt to monitor the development, uptake and impact of AI in Europe and beyond. The selection of indicators has followed a process of identification and screening to ascertain that a relevant, useful, and scientifically sound picture of the positioning of Europe and its Member States in AI can be provided. Metadata facilitates the understanding of the variables measured and indicators’ usefulness, and also replicability in the case that all data are available. 

The geographical coverage and granularity of the indicators vary, depending on the concepts covered and data availability. Most indicators are provided for the entire world, allowing for comparative analysis of the EU with the US, China, and other world main actors. In terms of granularity, most indicators are computed at least at country level, covering all EU Member states and the EU aggregate. A few indicators are available only at aggregate level by definition, e.g. the diversity indices, computed for conferences that take place around the world with international participation and for which a geographical classification is not pertinent. 

The 28 indicators are organised around 6 dimensions, as shown in the figure below. They reflect policy relevant areas and are interlinked with sectoral and transversal policies with an impact in the European economy and society: 

  • Global view on the AI ecosystem: sets the basis for understanding the global AI ecosystem, and covers aspects related to the importance of the worldwide AI landscape, AI areas of strength and AI investments. 
  • Industry: presents AI firms’ profiles and also includes a focus on robotics start-ups, in order to understand the characteristics of the AI industry. 
  • Research and Development: elaborates on the EU’s capabilities and strengths in research, covering various aspects of R&D activity (e.g., patenting, publications and EU funded projects) and network of collaborations. 
  • Technology: analyses AI as a general purpose technology, in aspects such as technological enablers, performance of AI and standardisation. 
  • Societal aspects: covers two sub-dimensions: diversity in research, including gender diversity, and higher education offer in AI 
  • AI in the Public sector: covers public procurement of AI, and AI patents for the public sector. 

The next steps will consist in the systematic collection of data for each indicator, the online presentation of the index in the AI Watch portal and, at a later stage, an online visualisation. To facilitate usability, interpretation and replicability, the online dissemination of the indicators will be accompanied by individual fiches including the detailed description of each indicator, as presented in this report.

Details on JRC Publications Repository 


AI Watch Index cover


AI Watch Index: Policy relevant dimensions to assess Europe’s performance in artificial intelligence