How Artificial Intelligence shapes the European and Dutch grant landscape

Few technologies can be applied to so many different fields and markets as Artificial Intelligence (AI). Be it personalized health care, smarter coordination of energy distribution or the cyber-physical transformation of manufacturing. Sectors driven by innovation put more and more focus on AI as a key enabling technology. As a result, the European AI market shows an enormous growth, with an expected increase from $ 2 billion in 2018 to more than $ 26 billion in 2025. On the one hand, this growth is characterised by an investment push from large enterprises – already 28% make use of AI – and on the other hand a continuous stream of start-ups and spin offs.

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Shaping society

Within this line, policy makers have also started to emphasize the importance of AI in shaping the European society and economy. In its AI strategy paper, the European Commission identifies AI as one of the most important technologies of the 21st century and sets out to boost within this context the EU’s technology capacity, while preparing for socio-economic changes in the labour market and ensuring appropriate legal and ethical frameworks. The goal is to create AI-based solutions that are fair, transparent and increase the value of life for all.

AI and the funding landscape

This industrial and policy push for AI-based solution is reflected in the European grant landscape. To tackle global challenges and enhance the European industrial competitiveness, the European Council’s flagship programme Horizon Europe supports world-leading innovations in the clusters:

Even though the destinations and underlying calls of each cluster are divers, AI is continuously listed as a target tool that should be incorporated into the proposed solutions for a given call. Furthermore, more and more European initiatives such as ELLIS (European Laboratory for Learning and Intelligent Systems) or the European AI Fund offer opportunities for smaller scale fundings, often targeted at start-ups and SMEs, which have AI as their core business.

National funding opportunities

The influence of AI on the grant landscape goes deeper than the European level. Most countries have started their own AI subsidy trajectories to establish themselves at a front position of the global race towards AI innovations and capacity building. In 2022, the Dutch government has shown the enormous importance it lays on AI innovations. With € 276 million it funded one of the largest artificial intelligence investment programmes in Europe, which will be carried out by the Dutch AI Coalition.

Additionally, several AI calls were published, targeting both the private and public sector. As flagship for the public sector, the Dutch Research Council (NWO) has invested more than € 10 million for initiatives that will push the development of human centred and trustworthy AI. For SMEs, the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO) has created a special AI call with a budget of € 2.9 million within one of its largest Dutch funding programmes: the MIT R&D.

AI as a solution for societal and ethical challenges

When considering how AI shapes the grant landscape, one must consider two major components of funding strategies: the first is the problem that should be solved and the second is the tools, strategies, and stakeholders, that should be part of the solution. European and national funding agencies have shown that they consider AI as one of the major tools to create sustainable solutions for economic and societal questions. Simultaneously, policy makers pose important questions about fairness, transparency and trustworthiness of AI. With this AI shapes the European and Dutch grant landscape both as valuable tools towards innovation and as a source for important societal and ethical challenges.

Hezelburcht offers advice and support

Are you directly working with AI? Or are you interested in incorporating AI in your innovations? There are several grant opportunities that might be of interest to your project. Our team can help you to find the right funding opportunities on a European, national and regional level. Feel free to contact us for a one-on-one meeting with an AI-specialist at Hezelburcht.

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