Invitation to tender: European AI investments research

Invitation to tender: European AI investments research


  • The European AI Fund is commissioning research to better understand where European investment into the development of Artificial Intelligence technologies and applications is directed.
  • This research will support our work to strengthen the civil society ecosystem by enabling civil society organisations to scrutinise and interrogate this spending and shape future investments.
  • Our available budget for this work is 45,000 euros.
  • The deadline for submissions is 16 May 2022. We aim to complete the research by the end of August 2022.
About the European AI Fund

The European AI Fund is a philanthropic initiative that exists to promote an ecosystem of European civil society organisations working on policy and technology. We envision a world where AI serves the interests of individuals and society, and where the policies and funding that regulate AI champion equity fairness and diversity, as well as democracy and human rights.

The fund is supported by the Bertelsmann Stiftung, Bosch Foundation, Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, Fondation Nicolas Puech, Ford Foundation, King Baudouin Foundation, Limelight Foundation, Luminate, Mozilla Foundation, Oak Foundation, Open Society Foundations, Porticus and Stiftung Mercator. We are hosted by the Network of European Foundations (NEF).

About this research

The European AI Fund’s work has so far focused on strengthening organisations’ capacity for policy and advocacy during an intensive period of regulation development in Europe. However, regulation only tempers the impacts of AI that is already in operation. The future of AI is shaped by investment into the research and development of new applications. Civil society should play an important role in defining where and how this investment is directed and act as a watchdog to spending on innovation. There is however currently little accessible information about where European AI funding goes, inhibiting civil society’s ability to act in this area. We want to correct that by commissioning a piece of foundational research which will serve as the basis for future activities.

The European Commission has committed to achieving EU global leadership in trustworthy AI. It has set a goal of 20bn euros annual investment from both public and private sectors across EU member states and institutions by 2030. Its Coordinated Plan on Artificial Intelligence aims to “accelerate investments in AI technologies to drive resilient economic and social recovery aided by the uptake of new digital solutions,” including by leveraging EU funding programmes.

The civil society organisations we have canvassed indicate they have little insight into how AI investment has been targeted historically and which spending decisions are taking place now. The goal of this research is to fill that gap and enable civil society organisations to scrutinise and shape the future direction of AI investment. To make the scope of this research manageable, our focus will be on the investment of public funds by EU institutions only.

Our research partner will:

  • Identify the sources of investment into AI within the European Union
    • quantify how much investment is undertaken / planned across the various EU bodies and funding initiatives
    • identify when and where decision making over these investments takes place
  • Identify where investment is directed and create a taxonomy to categorise this
    • look at investments by type of recipient (eg public, private, research, procurement etc)
    • look at investments by field (eg environment, health, transport, security etc)
    • look at investments by stated goal (eg economic growth, first mover advantage, competitiveness public benefit etc)
  • Explore criteria for further scrutiny of the potential societal impacts of the investments
    • identify opportunities for investigating potential benefits and harms, (eg governance, privacy, data sharing, environmental impact, bias and discrimination etc.
  • Synthesise and analyse these findings to understand to what extent European investments align with the mission of the European AI Fund and, if not, where there are opportunities to intervene.

Given the exploratory nature of this research, we appreciate this scope may change and we expect to collaborate with the research partner to refine the focus of research based on the availability of data.


We expect our research partner to undertake quantitative research that will analyse the scale and nature of European AI investments to cover the scope outlined above. We also anticipate that our partner will undertake qualitative research, such as expert interviews, that will support this information with deeper understanding about the trajectory of European investment strategies. Our goal is to draw on this research to identify opportunities for civil society to scrutinise and influence these investments.


  • Initial findings summary and presentation to European AI Fund management team and interested members of the steering committee. Based on this we will jointly determine the second stage of the research
  • Final findings summary and presentation to European AI Fund management team and interested members of the steering committee. Based on this we will jointly determine the focus of the final report
  • Accessible, clear and concise written final report.

Suggested timeline (this is open to discussion – please indicate an alternative timetable on your application if you wish)

16 May Deadline for submissions
1 June Tender awarded
16 June Research begins
7 July Share preliminary findings with Fund management team
8 August Share final findings Fund management team
29 August Share final report



The total budget available for this work is 45,000 euros.

Who should apply

We welcome applications from both organisations and independent consultants. Strong organisational skills and the ability to communicate complex information clearly and compellingly for a broad audience are essential. Previous experience in research into European institutions, funding mechanisms or issues surrounding AI is desirable. Skills such as data visualisation are helpful but not essential and we can provide the research partner with external assistance if required.

The European AI Fund is a pro-equity organisation. We particularly welcome applications from people and organisations whose voice is not sufficiently represented in the fields of philanthropy, policy and technology.

If you are not sure whether to apply, or have any questions about this tender, please don’t hesitate to contact the Fund Director, Catherine Miller

How to apply

Please send an email to with the following by EOD 16 May 2022 with:

  • a short outline (no more than 2 pages) of your proposed approach to the project
  • a proposed timeline
  • a budget indicating allocation of time for each stage and day rates for staff
  • a summary of the skills and experience the researchers involved in the project will bring to the work (no more than one page)