EC raises Horizon 2020 funds to €1.5bn, calls for extra €20bn AI cash
The European Commission (EC) has increased its Horizon 2020 research and innovation funding to €1.5 billion for the period through to the end of 2020, as it attempts to raise €20 billion from the European governments and private enterprises to stimulate the artificial intelligence (AI) industry in the region.
The EC expects its new funds to trigger an additional €2.5 billion of funding from existing public-private partnerships in the related fields of big data and robotics.
The Brussels initiative was followed closely by the UK, set to leave the European Union in March 2019, which announced a £1 billion package, including £600 million of new public and private funds, for its AI industry.
The Horizon 2020 stimulus comes after 25 European countries signed a declaration this month to jointly develop AI technologies and solutions, as well as to unite on union-wide blockchain and digital health initiatives.
The EC’s strategy around tech innovation has developed in line with its member states’ own initiatives. Notably, France president Emmanuel Macron has just unveiled a €1.5 billion AI package. At the same time, almost every developed nation has made public declarations in recent months about the economic importance of AI-related trade.
The EC wants to establish a coordinated plan on AI with member states by the end of the year.
“Just as the steam engine and electricity did in the past, AI is transforming our world. It presents new challenges that Europe should meet together in order for AI to succeed and work for everyone,” said Andrus Ansip, vice president for the Digital Single Market, said.
“We need to invest at least €20 billion by the end of 2020. The Commission is playing its part; today, we are giving a boost to researchers so that they can develop the next generation of AI technologies and applications, and to companies, so that they can embrace and incorporate them.”
The EC is putting focus on competencies in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), as well as entrepreneurship and creativity. Proposals under the EU’s next multiannual financial framework (2021-2027) will include strengthened support for training in advanced digital skills, including AI-specific expertise, it said.