Número: 181
Autor(es): Anabela Marques Santos, Francesco Molica e Carlos Torrecilla Salinas
Mês: Julho
Ano: 2024

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is seen as a disruptive and transformative technology with the potential to impact on all societal aspects, but particularly on competitiveness and growth. While its development and use has grown exponentially over the last decade, its uptake between and within countries is very heterogeneous. The paper assesses the geographical distribution at NUTS2-level of EU-funded investments related to AI during the programming period 2014-2020. It also examines the relationship between this specialization pattern and regional characteristics using a spatial autoregressive model. Such an analysis provides a first look at the geography of public investment in AI in Europe, which has never been done before.
Results show that in the period 2014-2020, around 8 billion EUR of EU funds were targeted for AI investments in the European regions. More developed regions have a higher specialization in AI EU-funded investments. This specialization also generates spillover effects that enhance similar specialization patterns in neighboring regions. AI-related investments are more concentrated in regions with a higher concentration of ICT activities and that are more innovative, highlighting the importance of agglomeration effects. Regions that have selected AI as an innovation priority for their Smart Specialization Strategies are also more likely to have a higher funding specialization in AI. Such findings are very relevant for policymakers as they show that AI-related investments are already highly spatially concentrated. This highlights the importance for less-developed regions to keep accessing to sufficient amounts of pre-allocated cohesion funds and to devote them for AI-related opportunities in the future.

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