Author: Peter Liljenberg
Regional highlights and market dynamics
The report, to be published later this month, shows substantial figures in terms of current revenue, expected growth, and investments in the AI & Robotics sector globally. However, Europe, and particularly the public sector, represents only a modest portion of these global numbers. Despite this, the region's AI and robotics market is experiencing rapid growth.
Germany and France are at the forefront of AI-related activities in Europe, with significant inputs from Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, and Sweden. Cities like Paris and Berlin have become key hubs for AI and blockchain within the EU27, with the European Union showing distinct strengths in AI Services and Autonomous Robotics.
The market report was needed to guide the development of AI and robotics solutions in a way that aligns with the EU's regulatory environment, market needs, and the varied digital maturity of European cities and communities. It serves as a comprehensive resource to inform stakeholders, aid in strategic planning, and facilitate the effective integration of AI technologies into European urban areas, thereby supporting the transition towards a greener, more digitally advanced Europe. In short, it maps the current landscape and identifies the main actors, trends, and challenges to guide the AI TEF’s development and impact.
“The report enjoyed contributions from different regions, and as such it was especially exciting to learn about local/regional challenges and solutions across Europe like the Danish national government’s funding program of 15 AI signature projects yearly”, says Sophie Meszaros, a researcher at SMIT and coordinator of the market report.
European startups are turning the established hierarchy on its head
Europe's investment in AI and related technologies is projected to reach over €20 billion annually by 2030, signalling a robust commitment to digital innovation. Interestingly, technological development is led by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), offering unprecedented opportunities to challenge the usual dominance of tech giants and reap the rewards. This is also the focus of a separate article in our ‘State of AI in Europe’ series in February.
The report looks at a set of challenges confronting AI innovators in the smart city domain and related communities. These include limited access to high-quality, real-time data, computational resource constraints, difficulties in model interpretability, limited scalability, interoperability, and data privacy and security concerns.
Challenges and strategic responses in smart city development
In response to these challenges, CitCom.ai, an initiative co-funded by the EU, was launched to accelerate the AI-adoption in smart cities and communities. This initiative is instrumental in aiding AI innovators by providing a platform and forum for addressing these challenges, promoting cross-domain integration, and bridging the gap between AI technology suppliers and the needs of European smart communities. Providing real-time and open data to the market will also be important to keep service providers informed and up-to-date with the changing market characteristics in the fast-evolving nature of the European AI industry.
Data based policy-making will transform urban planning
In summary, the harmonisation of the supply of AI technologies with the demands of European communities is key to transforming cities, regions, and rural areas into smarter, more sustainable communities. CitCom.ai plays a vital role in this process, ensuring that the integration of AI technologies aligns with the evolving needs and challenges of life in Europe. This synergy is key to the future development of smart, efficient, and sustainable communities across the continent.
“While some findings were anticipated, it was still surprising to learn just how limited is the role of data in policy decision-making”, comments Sophie Meszaros.
The comprehensive market report, conducted by the CitCom.ai TEF consortium, covers three main areas:
- A review of relevant European legislative initiatives, funding programmes, and projects to provide an overview of the regulatory and policy landscape in the EU
- A review of European cities and communities as a stakeholder group, and their diverse digital maturity, with recommendations like boosting skills transfer, nurturing entrepreneurial ecosystems, and employing procurement intelligently
- A review of the EU’s AI industry provides an overview of the current AI innovators in the field, which counted 5.776 players in 2020.
The final part of the report focuses on the three key areas of the CitCom.AI initiative: energy in the Nordic region, mobility in the central region, and connectivity in the southern region. This section breaks down each area by highlighting its main themes, challenges, and opportunities, and by showcasing examples from regional projects. This approach helps illustrate how these areas are being addressed and the potential for future developments.
The report enjoyed contributions from different regions, and as such it was especially exciting to learn about local/regional challenges and solutions across Europe like the Danish national government’s funding program of 15 AI signature projects yearly.Sophie Meszaros, a researcher at SMIT and coordinator of the market report