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As part of the 2018 VDE Tec Report , the technology association paints a dismal picture of the local state of digitization: The 1,350 surveyed member companies and colleges consider Europe to be at the bottom of the group when it comes to highly industrialized global regions. Only 7% of study participants view the continent as a pioneer. Asia ranks first coming in at 40%, followed by North America at 18%. VDE CEO Ansgar Hinz demands targeted support for the development of AI-based technologies and their integration into industrial production, automation and engineering. 73% of those surveyed think universities are obligated to establish suitable educational programs for AI experts, while 60% consider targeted support for innovative startups to be necessary.

Demand for new, modern educational offerings can be traced back to a fear of an increasing shortage of skilled workers: 65% of the companies and colleges see this as an obstacle for an upswing in digitization, followed directly by insufficient investment budgets (43%). Now, they are demanding political initiatives: The participants considered the most urgent matter to be support of universities (73%) and micro-electronics (70%), a digital training offensive (also coming in at 73%), supporting startups in the areas of AI and robotics (60%) and expanding the 5G infrastructure (55%). Another current study by Boston Consulting Group (BCG) claims that the development and logical use of AI-based technologies in German industry harbors potential added value totaling around 60 billion euros. It seems that others, at least at a European level, have a similar view of the situation: The EU Commission introduced an AI action package almost simultaneously.