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02/27/2024 14:18

SMEs in Germany are larger in comparison to the European average – and use more often Artificial Intelligence

Dr. Jutta Gröschl Presse- und Öffentlichkeitsarbeit
Institut für Mittelstandsforschung (IfM) Bonn

    The EU internal market is the most important market - both for imports and exports - according to a survey conducted by IfM Bonn in 2023. But what are the specific characteristics of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Germany compared to SMEs in other EU member states? According to the statistical analysis by researchers at the IfM Bonn, SMEs in Germany are larger, slightly more likely to be found in the high-tech sector and more AI-orientated than the EU average.

    In small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Germany, an average of 6.8 employees work, significantly more than the EU average of 3.5 employees. In contrast, the average SME density in this country is lower than in other EU member states: While an estimated 2,987 SMEs per 100,000 inhabitants can be found in the Federal Republic, the EU average is 5,435 SMEs. Particularly high SME densities are observed in Czechia (10,297 SMEs), Slovakia (9,616 SMEs), and Portugal (9,438 SMEs).

    In the German manufacturing sector, around 4.3% of companies with a maximum of 249 employees are active in high-technology areas. For comparison, the EU average for SMEs is 2%. However, SMEs in Germany are significantly more active in knowledge-intensive services (33.2%), slightly below the EU average (33.9%).

    Compared to 2021 (10%), the proportion of SMEs in Germany utilising Artificial Intelligence (AI) has increased by one percentage point. Nevertheless, more companies with a maximum of 249 employees in Germany compared to the EU average are using Artificial Intelligence. This is likely because SMEs in Germany are larger – evidence shows that AI adoption increases with size. However, the proportion of large enterprises using AI in Germany (35%) or the EU average is more than three times higher than among SMEs.

    More information:


    SME density in the EU-27 countries (estimate)
    SME density in the EU-27 countries (estimate)

    Copyright: IfM Bonn

    Criteria of this press release:
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    Economics / business administration
    transregional, national
    Research results


    SME density in the EU-27 countries (estimate)

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