Billionaire and telecoms tycoon Xavier Niel has invested around €200m ($212m) into a French AI research lab and start-ups. 

In an interview with Agence France-Presse (AFP), Niel stated the importance of creating French AI software. 

“We really need to make sure that we have things coming out of [France]… so as not to have all of our data going elsewhere, so that AI does not depend on algorithms not created here which are not European,” Niel stated. 

“We don’t want to have algorithms for our children that rely on our American or Chinese friends.” Niel continued, “They are fantastic, but we perhaps do not have the same rules or the same uses … We want our algorithms to follow our rules, with our operating method.” 

The research lab funded by Niel will be located in Paris and its hardware is set to be supplied by NVIDIA

Niel’s portfolio includes Orange Switzerland and Monaco Telecom, however the billionaire was also notably one of the founders of WorldNet which was France’s first major internet provider. 

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By GlobalData

According to research analyst GlobalData, North America and Asia Pacific are currently the world’s leading global AI markets with a combined share of 63%. France and Western Europe, meanwhile, account for only 19% of the total AI market. 

Ethical concerns and regulation may inhibit the growth of AI’s global market, but the ongoing trade dispute between the US and China may hobble both North America and Asia Pacific in the long term. 

In total, the global AI market is forecasted by the analyst to be worth $984bn.