EU plays catch-up to China, US in blockchain, AI race with $110M fund

Remarking that blockchain and artificial intelligence (AI) will change everyone’s lives, the European Investment Fund (EIF) has teamed up with the European Commission (EC) to establish a dedicated investment scheme. The scheme, worth €100 million (over US$110 million), will make capital available to indirectly fund SME’s AI and blockchain projects via VC funds and other investors.

In a Medium post, the EIF noted that Western Europe already spends a lot on blockchain projects—its expected spending for 2019 is $674 million—making it the second-largest region in the world for blockchain spending.

Most of the funding goes toward research and proofs-of-concept. The new fund is intended to address the fact that very little capital is devoted to developing larger-scale projects in the EU. According to the EIF, “Developers and entrepreneurs wanting to grow their businesses ultimately end up recipients of U.S. financing, working for U.S. companies, and the job opportunities and economic growth these technologies bring head elsewhere.”

The blockchain and AI “financing gap” in Europe presents an opportunity for the EIF to support these new technologies through its existing and future venture capital networks. “Investing in a portfolio of innovative AI and blockchain companies will help develop a dynamic EU-wide investors community on AI and blockchain,” the EIF said.

With the “cornerstone” funding in place, the EIF said private investors are expected to bring up to €300 million (US$331 million) into the fund. The total fund could rise further in 2020, with national promotional banks being able to co-invest under the scheme to scale up the volume of investments at a national level. The EC and the EIF’s participation in the market could be a powerful force for setting regulatory and legal precedents, driving clarity of language, and easing the path to regulation on both AI and blockchain in Europe.

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