A two-day discussion on the future of European Digital Innovation Hubs (EDIH) took place last month, as over 2000 stakeholders and policy-makers gathered online for the first time to take stock of the upcoming hubs network.
European Digital Innovation Hubs are one-stop-shops where companies and public sector organisations can access and test digital innovations, gain the required digital skills, get advice on financing support and ultimately accomplish their digital transformation in the context of the twin green and digital transition which is at the core of European industrial policy.
The EDIHs will become a network spread across the entire EU, sharing best practices and specialist knowledge and ready to support companies and public administrations in any region and economic sector. EDIHs will also play a brokering role between public administrations and companies providing e-government technologies, and are an important tool in Europe’s industrial and SME policies as they are close to local companies and ‘speak their language’.
Member States have already been invited to designate potential hubs. These potential hubs met for the first time on Tuesday the 26th of January at the Digital Innovation Hubs annual conference, organised in collaboration with the Luxembourg Ministry of Economy. Keynote speakers included Commissioner for the Internal Market Thierry Breton and Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel. The 2000+ participants were provided with a unique opportunity to better prepare their submissions for the upcoming call and connect for further collaboration in building up the network of EDIHs.
Commissioner for the Internal Market Thierry Breton said:
Our vision is a resilient EU which is at the forefront of digital, where every citizen is digitally literate and where every single company can use the technology they need. Digital technology will help to provide the best public services in the world, and even small companies will be able to do business everywhere in Europe. This is the Europe we want, and the work of the European Digital Innovation Hubs will contribute to its construction.
The event was a discussion forum for potential EDIH candidates, policy makers and regional managers where the important role of the hubs was put in the context of Europe’s economic recovery and practical questions regarding how to set up a hub were answered. The conference is a crucial step in kick-starting the network, and is critical to building EU capacity to accelerate the digital innovation of businesses.
Half of the €1.5 billion investment in the EDIH network will come from the Digital Europe Programme and the rest through national and regional funds, financing the approximately 200 hubs from 2021 to 2027. They will act as a multiplier and widely diffuse the use of all the digital capacities built up under the different objectives of the Digital Europe Programme. Member States have worked in close collaboration with the European Commission to prepare the call.
The potential hubs designated by Member States will be invited to submit their proposals for the call, which will select the hubs participating in the initial network of European Digital Innovation Hubs. Projects will be launched after summer 2021, and will immediately start working towards further digitalisation of all the sectors of the European economy, giving a strong contribution to the recovery after the COVID-19 crisis.