Using patent data for a panel sample of European companies between 1995 and 2016 we explore whether the inventive success in Artificial Intelligence (AI) is related to earlier firms' innovation in the area of Information and Communication Technology (ICT), and identify which company characteristics and external factors shape this performance. We show that AI innovation presents strong dynamic returns (learning effects) and benefits from complementaries with knowledge earlier developed in the area of network and communication technologies, high-speed computing and data analysis, and more recently cognition and imaging. AI patent productivity increases with the scale of firm innovation, and is lower for companies with narrow technological competences. There is evidence of knowledge spillovers from ICT innovators to AI innovators, but this effect is confined to the frontier firms of the new technological field. Our findings suggest that, with the take-off of the new technology, the technological lead of top AI innovators has increased due to the accumulation of internal competences and the expanding knowledge base. These trends help explain the concentration process of the world's data market.
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