A quarter of Flemish companies use artificial intelligence (AI) for their daily activities, making the region among the frontrunners in Europe.
Around 25% of companies are already regularly relying on machine intelligence, according to a baseline measurement to map out the use of AI in Flemish companies commissioned by Flemish Economy and Innovation Minister Hilde Crevits.
"The baseline measurement shows that a quarter of our companies use AI, which is far above the European average," Crevits said in a statement.
AI refers to systems that show intelligent behaviour. By analysing their environment, they can perform various tasks with some degree of autonomy to achieve specific goals, for businesses among others.
"But we can do even better: artificial intelligence remains a niche technology and primarily a matter of large companies, while the study shows that smaller companies experience the greatest positive impact of AI on their turnover growth."
Lack of knowledge stopping businesses
More than three-quarters of Flemish businesses (76.8%) do not use AI yet, and the majority (63.4%) has no plans to do so, the study found.
The lack of knowledge seems to be the biggest barrier. This includes not only technical knowledge but also knowledge about legislative and ethical aspects.
Especially small companies hardly use the technology. "A missed opportunity," according to Crevits, "because of the quarter of Flemish companies that already use AI, half see a quality improvement in business processes."
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"A third even says that AI allows them to put better products or services on the market and to reduce costs thanks to the technology. This led to an increase in sales of 10.1% on average."
To further encourage businesses to adopt machine intelligence in their activities, the region has created a 'Flemish Action Plan for Artificial Intelligence' which aims to make Flanders a top European region in the field of AI and to help companies to innovate and strengthen their competitive position.
"Flanders invests €32 million annually in research and in raising awareness, training, advising and supporting companies," Crevits said. Last year, some 400 companies received government support for their AI projects.