AI in EU: The Talent Advantage

October 27, 2022
Europe has all the ingredients to build AI, and migration policies that enable it to quickly assemble the brightes minds to do so.

In AI and Technology, companies and countries are fighting over scarce talent. Many consider Europe being on the losing end of this battle, while the US and China attract all the qualified founders and employees. But on a closer look, Europe might have some advantages over its competitors, which are not fully recognized yet and are likely to play a more prominent role in the future. European countries get simultaneously better at fostering and keeping their AI talent while attracting talent from all over the world. Slowly but surely, this will turn into a European talent advantage. 

The ideal ingredients towards AI

We knew for a while that Europe is good at producing top talent in AI, but for a long time, it has been challenging to keep this talent. Education and foundational research are strong in many European countries, but job opportunities seemed to be better overseas for a long time. However, this situation changes as European companies continue to double down on AI. More and more SMEs are building up their own data teams, large research clusters are getting built, and startup scenes keep growing, not only in Munich, Paris and Berlin but also increasingly in eastern European countries. 

Moreover, we see increasing integration of business and research, for example, in the Cyber Valley and on the AI Campus Berlin, where universities, startups and corporate research labs work side by side. These intersections of business and research are mission-critical for attracting talent in a field like AI. After all, many of the best entrepreneurs are researchers, and much of the best research is done by companies. 

Multiple roads lead to EU

Another big part of the European talent advantage lies in migration. Since talent is nowhere as limited as in tech, no ecosystem can succeed without recruiting from a worldwide talent pool. I talked about the importance of migration with Jaime Gomez, who started his Augmented Reality company Looks in Berlin and recruited his team from all over the world. Jaime, who is from Venezuela, always knew he wanted to go abroad. He decided to come to Europe and build his company here because it was much more affordable than in the US, and he got interested in the startup communities Europe offers. 

Although Jaime points out that many aspects could and should be improved about how European countries handle migration, he also points out what makes migration into the European labor market so attractive: “Different European countries have different migration laws and provide different incentives for migration. I for myself first moved to France when I came to Europe. Others might be attracted by the digitized bureaucracy that Estonia offers or by the low corporate taxes in Poland. Different European countries attract different talent from different backgrounds. Once you settle in Europe, at least in tech, you become part of a European talent pool, and it gets much easier to work in different countries.”

The polycentricity of European immigration leads to competition among the different countries and offers an incredible bandwidth of opportunities. For example, for some people, it might be hard to move to Germany, but Poland might be more accessible, and for others, it could be the other way around. However, as soon as people live and work in Europe, companies from all over Europe can easily hire them.  

Again, we see enormous potential for this region. Countries must double down on skilled migration and take the competition seriously. The talent we produce and attract does, after all, have ripple effects. Talented people build opportunities that attract other talent. The resulting chain reaction feeds into the overall ecosystem, which becomes more and more powerful. There are many indicators that the European AI and technology ecosystem is about to reach a critical mass. We expect AI in Europe to take off within the following years, producing and attracting talent at an ever-increasing velocity.

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