Sofia, Bulgaria. 24th October 2023 - The Recursive is pleased to present the most comprehensive report ever done on the state of AI in the Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) region.
“The Recursive CEE AI Report is the first of its kind extensive mapping of the AI innovation ecosystem in Central and Eastern Europe. Our key objective is to point out the strengths and opportunities CEE can leverage to improve its competitiveness on the global map, but we have also observed the bears on the road and potential threats that the region needs to mitigate to realize its full potential as an AI power hub,” commented Zornitsa Stoilova, Editor-in-Chief at The Recursive and one of the authors of the report.
Long before the recent global AI boom, the CEE region has been a cradle for some of the most iconic European AI companies. Names like UiPath, Rimac Automobili, SEON, Causaly, Infermedica, Silent Eight, and Dronamics are not just success stories but are testimony to the innovation potential and technical prowess that the region has offered to the world.
As of today, there are over 900 AI startups in the CEE region. Via the report data, we can observe a significant move away from episodic success stories to a more systemic and repeatable model of success. In line with this trend, over 75 AI companies from the region have raised total funding of at least $10 million, with 24 AI startups raising $50 million or more.
Healthcare and life sciences stand out as the industry with the most AI innovation in the CEE region. With over 150 companies working on various AI tools, the industry has collectively raised close to $600m, excluding outliers. Applications include diagnosis and therapy, optimization of medical data and process management, patient care support, advancement of research and drug development, and empowerment of patients to take proactive care of their health.
Other industries with significant AI activity include Finance; Marketing, Sales, and Customer Service, with Cybersecurity also seeing a rise.
The past three years have been pivotal for AI companies in CEE, with a total funding of $4.2 billion, which is more than all previous funding in history combined. However, there is still a significant gap between the number of startups that have raised a seed round and those who reach Series A.
On the brighter side, there are over 120 VCs in the region actively investing in AI startups, although less than 30% specialize in AI or deep tech. The number of top-tier international investors, such as Sequoia Capital, Accel, Index Ventures, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Dawn Capital, and Atomico investing in local startups, has also been consistently growing.