The Netherlands does too little research into artificial intelligence (AI), warns the Rathenau Institute. More research is also needed in the rest of Europe.
TU Delft has set up AI labs looking at human-computer interaction, materials science, urban environment and water management, among others. (Photo: Andy Kelly/Unsplash)

The Netherlands does too little research into artificial intelligence (AI), warns the Rathenau Institute. More research is also needed in the rest of Europe.

Lees in het Nederlands

Europe is lagging behind China and the United States in the field of artificial intelligence, the Rathenau Institute writes in a fact sheet. The Netherlands is also doing relatively little AI research.

It was announced in April that Dutch research into artificial intelligence is getting 226 million euros from the National Growth Fund. That sum is part of an investment programme worth 2.1 billion euros in the years up to 2027.

A lot of money, but is it enough? The Rathenau Instituut, which conducts research into the impact of science, innovation and technology on society, has its doubts. Powerhouses like China and the United States are not sitting on their laurels. There are high expectations of artificial intelligence.

Small player
That the Netherlands is already falling behind can be seen from the fact sheet. We are a relatively small player. Only 4,000 of the 314,000 publications on AI in the years 2013-2018 were from the Netherlands. That is 1.3 percent.

TU Delft publishes the most on AI in the Netherlands

As a comparison, the Netherlands accounts for 2.1 percent of all the scientific articles, reviews and conference papers published worldwide. In other words, Dutch researchers are having a greater impact in other scientific fields.

Of the world’s 66,500 AI researchers, 1,000 have worked for a while in the Netherlands. That is 1.5 percent, while the figure in all areas of expertise put together is twice as high: 2.9 percent.

Bright spot
A bright spot is that Dutch research has a lot of impact, in relative terms. Americans and Canadians score best – their research is quoted more frequently by their peers – but British and Dutch researchers are virtually on a par in third place, while Chinese and Japanese researchers for example are way behind. 

But in China the research in this field has been growing quite fast in recent years and the United States is beginning to catch up on Europe. And what’s more, the US can boast companies such as Google.

Nevertheless, it is hard to make a good comparison with other countries, says researcher Alexandra Vennekens of the Rathenau Instituut. You never know exactly what will come of the plans and investments, or how the various expenses can be compared.

TU Delft tops the list in the Netherlands when it comes to the number of scientific publications on artificial intelligence. There is no shortage of plans to further boost AI research at TU Delft. Last year, the university started the TU Delft AI Labs. By the end of this year, the university should have a total of 24 such labs, where researchers from different backgrounds work together on social and scientific challenges involving artificial intelligence. The counter now stands at sixteen labs. The amount of money TU delft puts into AI research annually doubled last year to 70 million euros.

HOP, Bas Belleman / Delta, Tomas van Dijk