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March 2021

EU Report on Advanced Technologies for Industry - Trends and Policies

In January 2021, the European Commission released the EU report on "Advanced Technologies for Industry" to provide an overview about the performance of the EU27 in Advanced Technologies and to give a snapshot of the policy landscape supporting the production and uptake of Advanced Technologies at EU, national and regional levels.

Advanced Technologies are defined as recent or future technologies that are expected to substantially alter the business and social environment and include: Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Advanced Materials, Advanced Manufacturing, Augmented and Virtual Reality, Big Data, Blockchain, Cloud Technologies, Connectivity, Industrial Biotechnology, the Internet of Things, Micro- and Nanoelectronics, Mobility, Nanotechnology, Photonics, and Security.

The following content only summarizes EU's findings on Artificial Intelligence and Big Data as well as Advanced Manufacturing and Robotics. For information on the other listed technologies as well as the national and regional policies, please refer to EU's complete report. 

Artificial Intelligence and Big Data

The EU report claims that in the field of Artificial Intelligence, despite the gap between the EU27 and the US as well as China, the EU is catching up fast. The EU27 falls behind the US and China in world share of patents (EU 17.23% vs US 25.32% and China 25.55%), but AI is the most dynamically developing technology in terms of patent filing and startup activity in Europe (outpacing the US) the report suggests. Furthermore, the availability of professionals with skills in AI is also growing very fast and it outpaced the US in the period 2018-2019, as the results of the analysis of LinkedIn data suggest. The EU market is expected to grow faster than the global market. IDC forecasts the total spending on AI to grow at a five-yearly Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 26.5% for the period 2018-2023, up to €96 bn at the end of that period.

Please note: While EUnited agrees with the EU analysis that there is an existing gap between EU27 and the U.S. and China, it totally disagrees with the notion that "the EU is catching up fast". It is essential that the EU steps up its game to secure a competitive edge in the AI field. EUnited Robotics is currently working on a comprehensive position on AI and Robotics which will be published in the first half of 2021. We will keep you informed.   

The report admits that Big Data is a European weakness compared to the US and China although it plays a crucial role in the future development of a digital-based economy and is highly relevant in enabling the deployment of Artificial Intelligence. 

The share of global patent applications in Big Data is the smallest among all Advanced Technologies, and the EU27 is behind both the US and China. The EU27 is also performing worse than the US in terms of the share of professionals with Big Data skills in the economy and various industries, even though they are necessary to process and handle large datasets.

Advanced Manufacturing and Robotics

Advanced Manufacturing technologies are one of the technologies where the EU27 is particularly strong and has the highest share (30.5%) of world patent applications, the highest number of venture capital-backed firms and investment and supply of skills. It is also the EU27’s remaining area of international advantage in terms of trade. That said, the field of Advanced Manufacturing has reached a certain degree of maturity so that both investment and technological capacity grow less dynamically than in some other Advanced Technology areas. Despite Europe’s remaining lead, various global competitors have come to master a broader array of technologies than they could before and continue to catch up with increasing momentum.

Europe is at risk of losing substantial ground to China in the area of Robotics where the EU27’s share in global patent applications has significantly dropped in recent years. However, China’s Robotics industry is in the course of seeing a downturn with subsidies lessening and the Covid19 crisis beginning to take an additional toll. (Please note that Covid-19 initially shut down factories in China, but as the country got the pandemic under control, demand for automation equipment have bounced back.) China’s capacities in Robotics remain several years behind that of its global competitors, states the report. In these areas, Europe’s more relevant competitors are Taiwan, Japan, and the United States. According to the report, these countries pose a substantial and increasing challenge to Europe in various relevant areas of Robotics. While Europe continues to lead the US in terms of professionals with Advanced Manufacturing skills, it lags with respect to the share of professionals with Robotics skills in the manufacturing industries.

On the upside, potential demand for Robotics and the safeguards connected with industrial installations will have substantial sales potential for years to come. This holds true both within Europe and beyond.

=> Read the complete report: "Advanced Technologies for Industry"

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