State of Artificial Intelligence in Europe: Statistics 2021

Whether you are a startup, small business, or medium enterprise you probably should care about AI implementation in your business or at least check the latest updates. Artificial intelligence technology is a significant driver of the economy, boosting innovation in such areas as healthcare, transport, cybersecurity, financial services. Here we collected statistics and insights from official and trusted researches and reports about the state of artificial intelligence in Europe.

AI is a priority for business, but also academic research institutions, policymakers, and the broader public. Governments, citizens, and businesses expect artificial intelligence techniques to bring benefits, including in the fight against Covid-19, improving resilience and providing sustainable growth. Artificial intelligence has the potential to disrupt and displace business models and also influence the way people live and work.

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AI readiness in European Union compared to other regions

The adoption of artificial intelligence is considerably varied across states of the European region. There are front runners, middle adopters, and late adopters. 
Below you can see the table of the countries’ AI readiness from the McKinsey report. However, even the European leaders are below the US.


The European Union members have considerable differences in terms of government initiatives and funding. Overall, the biggest part of the investment in AI technology seems to come from industry and private funds.

At the same time, the leader in European private investments, United Kingdom, had 20 times fewer such investments than the US. 

Source:  Artificial Intelligence Index Report 2021.

The most prospective and attractive for investors AI areas in 2020 were Healthcare and Life sciences, Transport, and Education.

Global private investment in AI

AI adoption across EU companies

About 48% of European organizations have adopted artificial intelligence in at least one business function.

Companies that adopt various AI applications faster than others come from Telecom, Automotive, and Financial services industries. 

The prioritized investment areas for organizations are data security, automation of processes, customer care.

One of the main problems for artificial intelligence adoption in Europe is that small and medium companies face challenges in AI implementation. This is especially relevant in the European context because SMEs represent about 60% of value creation and two-thirds of employment in the EU. SMEs are the backbone of the European economy.

The overall numbers of adoption by enterprises are also not so brilliant: 

  • Only 7% of enterprises in the EU with 10+ employees used AI applications
  • 2% of the enterprises use machine learning for analysing big data internally
  • a chatbot or virtual agent is used in 2% of the enterprises
  • the same part of EU enterprises (2%) uses service robots 

Among the European states, Ireland has the highest share of enterprises (23%) that are using any of AI applications. Then goes Malta (19%), Finland (12%), and Denmark (11%). The lowest shares of AI adoption were recorded in Poland, Slovenia, Cyprus, and Latvia.

AI-first companies

The number of AI startups in European states is considerably lower compared to other countries. However, collectively, Europe is second only to the United States (1,393), with 769 artificial intelligence startups (22 percent of the global total). This indicates that, while some European countries may not be globally competitive, Europe has the potential to be a major player in artificial intelligence if it strengthens its digital single market.

Artificial Intelligence Research and Development

Despite the decrease in peer-reviewed AI publications Europe still produces 16% of the global research papers. 

Peer-reviewed publications are those which went through scrutiny of experts in the same field (peers). 

Source: Artificial Intelligence Index Report 2021.

Excluding academia, government institutions consistently contribute to the highest percentage of peer-reviewed AI publications, more than of those in other categories in the European Union. The Government produces 17.2 % of all such publications. 

As for academic-corporate peer-reviewed publications, the US has more than twice as many such publications as the EU.

While considering the number of archived publications on ARXIV (without peer review), Europe produces 2 times less than the US for 2020.

AI Education

Globally, the US has more programs specializing in artificial intelligence than any other geographic area, although Europe takes second place in terms of the number of AI-specialized master’s programs.

The vast majority of European AI academic offerings are at the master’s level, which means that students learn hard skills for work. Germany has the highest overall number of AI programs, while France is the leader in offering the highest number of artificial intelligence programs at the master’s level.

AI Talent

The migration of academics and students to China and the United States is a concern for most European countries. Almost all new activities surrounding AI are related to talent creation, attraction, and retention at the university, educational, and training levels.

Among European countries, the highest IT hiring index is in Germany followed by the United Kingdom, Italy, and France. The AI hiring index is determined as the number of LinkedIn members with AI skills on their profile or those who have AI-related occupation and who added a new company in the same month their new job began, divided by the entire number of LinkedIn members in the particular country.

Burning Glass, an analytics firm, estimated the percent of AI job postings of all job postings in six countries globally — the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Singapore. The United Kingdom is equal to the United States, while the latter recorded a decrease in its share of AI job postings.

Using LinkedIn data that includes skills listed on a member’s profile, positions held, and the locations of the positions, this AI skills penetration metric provides insight into the average share of artificial intelligence skills among the top 50 skills in each occupation. 

For comparison across countries, the AI skill relative penetration rate is measured by the sum of the penetration of each AI skill across occupations in a particular country, divided by the average penetration of AI skills worldwide across the same occupations.

EU leaders in relative AI skill penetration rate are Germany with 1.27 times the global average, United Kingdom, France, and Italy.

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