Germany plans to double public research funding for artificial intelligence to nearly one billion euros over the next two years, bringing it closer to China and the United States.
In total, more than 1.6 billion euros will be invested in Germany’s “AI Action Plan”. Among other things, the money will be used to establish 150 new university labs for AI research, expand data centers, and provide AI training datasets.
The goals of the action plan are to achieve visible and measurable economic success and concrete social benefits, to promote AI “Made in Europe”, and to advance the “Dialogue and Strategy Process” at the German and European levels.
Research Minister Bettina Stark-Watzinger is convinced that Europe’s AI Act, data protection, and personal security are competitive advantages. “We have AI that is explainable, trustworthy and transparent,” Stark-Watzinger told Reuters. “That’s a competitive advantage.”
The minister could be referring to AI research on explainable AI by German AI startup Aleph Alpha, TU Darmstadt, the Hessian.AI research center, and the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI).
The private sector is where the real money is
According to the Stanford AI Index Report 2023, the U.S. government invested approximately $3.3 billion in 2022 alone. But looking at private sector AI investment puts the importance of public funding into perspective: in 2022, it was estimated at $47.7 billion in the U.S., about $25 billion in Europe, and $13.4 billion in China. In 2021, these investments were slightly higher, but the AI boom also suffered from the economic downturn in many areas.
Stark-Watzinger wants to encourage private investment in AI by reducing regulation. Germany ranks only ninth in the world in terms of the number of AI startups, although the number is expected to double by 2023.