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AI investment in Europe further boosted by €1bn Italian investment

But could a maturing eastern European start-up ecosystem prove a competitor?

The art of disruptive investing


Pete Carvill

The Italian government has signalled it is to create a €1bn investment fund to invest in the nation’s AI projects.

The move, it was reported by Mobile World Live, will be financed by the Cassa Depositi e Prestiti, the country’s venture-capital arm and it is hoped the fund will attract a further €2bn in investment from the private sector. The announcement was made at a conference in Rome earlier this week by prime minister Giorgia Meloni, who said: “We are convinced there can and must be an Italian way to artificial intelligence.”

This is not the only AI investment being signalled across the continent. Last month, PA Europe reported potential investments by Microsoft and Google parent company Alphabet into France and Germany. While Microsoft is reportedly set to invest €3.2bn in building up its AI infrastructure and cloud capacity in Germany by the end of next year, Alphabet has launched a new AI hub in Paris that will have more than 300 Google researchers and engineers.

This week, meanwhile, French newspaper Le Monde highlighted that a new report submitted to President Emmanuel Macron has called for an investment totalling €25bn over the next half-decade to finance the sector and deployment of the technology. Yet all this may be stymied, a new report from Romanian company How to Web has suggested.

Eastern European competition

Also released this week, the Venture in Eastern Europe Report argued that despite investment volumes falling 57% between 2022 and 2023 – a shift it said was in line with the rest of the Europe – the start-up ecosystem in Eastern Europe was maturing and attracting more attention from investors with a shifting focus towards sustainable business models and profitability.

“We are strong believers in Eastern Europe’s capacity to step on the world stage of start-ups and venture capital and respectfully earn its position as a solid powerhouse of global-scale technology businesses,” wrote the authors of the report. “This emerging role of Eastern Europe has been shown repeatedly through the rise of start-ups with Eastern European DNA that have become some of the most successful companies worldwide.”