Germany intends to roughly double its public financing for research on artificial intelligence (AI) to close to a billion euros over the course of the next two years, reported Reuters.

The increase in funding, which was announced by research minister Bettina Stark-Watzinger, for AI research is aimed at bridging the skills gap with key players, the US and China.

In comparison, the US government spent $3.3bn on AI research in 2022, the news agency said, citing a report by Stanford University.

Germany’s AI drive comes as it strives to recover from a recession while its major chemical and auto industries face fierce competition from new electric vehicle manufacturers and inflated energy prices.

Berlin plans to launch 150 new university labs for AI research as part of the initiative, as well as expand data centres and make complicated public data sets accessible so that AI approaches can extract novel insights from them.

The Stanford report shows that private AI spending in 2022 stood at $47.4bn in the US and $13.4bn in China. 

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According to Stark-Watzinger, the developing legislative environment in Europe, which places greater emphasis on personal safety and privacy than other nations, could entice players to Germany as well as foster cooperation in the European Union.

“We have AI that is explainable, trustworthy and transparent,” the minister said. “That is a competitive advantage.”

The minister said that less complicated laws would encourage private research funding.

Last month, it was reported that Berlin plans to spend $22bn (€20.2bn) to bolster Germany’s chip making capabilities.