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European Commission and EIF launch Blockchain and AI Fund

Fri, 22 Nov 2019, 11:14 am UTC

The European Commission (EC) has launched a dedicated EU equity investment fund for artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain technologies in collaboration with the European Investment Fund (EIF).

Björn-Sören Gigler, Senior Digital Innovation Specialist at the Digital Innovation and Blockchain Unit at the EC’s Directorate-General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology, made the announcement in an online post last month.

Called “the Blockchain and AI Fund,” the investment fund aims to “support and leverage investments in highly innovative start-ups and tech companies,” Gigler said.

As per the details, the first phase is expected to a total investment volume of around €300-400 million for 2020, with a contribution from the EC and the EIF of €100 million and the rest being leveraged from venture capital funds.

“Looking ahead, the plan is to scale up the investment fund under the InvestEU programme, starting in 2021 with an estimated investment volume of approximately €1-2 billion,” he added.

This seems to be an attempt by the EU to position itself at par with the U.S. and China in the area of blockchain and AI investments. According to Sifted, the common currency area attracted $34 billion in VC funding this year, which is only half the amount invested in Asian companies and a third of what has been pumped into American companies.

Of the total private investments that went into AI between 2011 and 2018, US-based AI firms received two-third of the global total, while Chinese firms raked in around 21 percent, Sifted reported citing figures from OECD. During the same period, the EU’s share was less than 10 percent.

With regards to blockchain investments, Gigler noted, “While most investments in blockchain start-ups are directed at US companies with a total of €4.4 billion (33%), European companies have attracted a solid €2.9 billion (22%) and China follows with a total of €2.8 billion (21%).”

The EU has been spearheading a lot of initiatives to foster blockchain innovation in the region. This includes the launch of EU Blockchain Observatory and Forum in February 2018, establishment of a European Blockchain Partnership (EBP) in April 2018, and the launch of the International Association for Trusted Blockchain Applications (INATBA) earlier this year.

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