This position paper summarises the opinion of the EAIC (European Association of Innovation Consultants). EAIC comprises 50 members present in 26 European Countries, supporting around 40% of all the companies awarded EIC Accelerator funding in 2021.
Europe decided to take decisive steps to achieve digital sovereignty by improving the key digital infrastructures and its digital capacities. This includes the deployment of digital technologies, as well as the necessary digital skills for EU workforce.
The Digital Europe Programme has been designed to provide support to digital transformation of the economy and to contribute to the achievement of the digital targets, as outlined in the communication: "2030 Digital Compass: the European way for the Digital Decade".
Establishing a genuine single market for data and the use of digital technologies to reinforce Europe’s common climate and environmental goals are key objectives. The Programme will be focusing on the key areas of artificial intelligence (AI), cybersecurity, advanced computing, data infrastructures, data governance and processing, using these technologies within sectors like energy climate change and environment, manufacturing, agriculture and health.
In the first three years of the Digital Europe Programme, a network of European Digital Innovation Hubs (EDIH) will be created, covering all regions of the European Union and Associated Countries being also open for collaboration with third countries.
EDIH is a single entity or a coordinated group of entities with complementary expertise and a not-for-profit objective to support on a large scale the digital transformation of (1) companies, especially SMEs and small mid-caps, and/or (2) public sector organisations at all levels conducting non-economic activities. Offering access to technology testing before investing, training and skills development, support to find investments, networking and access to innovation ecosystems, EDIHs will be an important tool supporting the twin (green and digital) transitions.
The proposed Policy Programme: a Path to the Digital Decade - factsheet | Shaping Europe’s digital future (europa.eu) has identified specific goals to be met such as raising the basic digital of adults from current 56% to 80%; increase the number of employed ICT specialists from 8,4 mil to 20 mil; introducing Gigabite network coverage of housholds from 59% to 100% as well as 5G coverage of all populated areas from 14% to 100%; increasing the EU production of semiconductors, including processors up to 20% of the world production from the current 10%. In terms of digital transformation of businesses, it is expected that cloud computing services would be used at level od 75%, as well as Big data and AI. The number of unicorn startups in Europe is supposed to double reaching the number of 224. A share of SMEs with, at least, a basic level of digital intensity is set to reach 90% from the current 60%, while overall online access to key public services is supposed to be delivered to all citizens and businesses.
A special support will be given to local SMEs, providing them with opportunities to connect to SMEs outside the region building new value chains in Europe. On top of it, SMEs would benefit in better understanding of the potential of their innovations and market maturity. EDIH would be also a great tool for investors looking for investment opportunities, for corporates looking for innovative digital solutions and for potential clients and customers, both public and private sectors.
In the first two years of the programme implementation, there will be four independent Work Programmes. The first one will be implementing the network of European Digital Innovation Hubs, while other three Work Programmes will be devoted to the following intervention areas:
1) High Performance Computing;
2) Data, AI, Cloud, Quantum Communication Infrastructure, advanced digital Skills and deployment activities for the best use of these technologies.
The selection of the EDIHs will follow a two-step process: first, an Expression of Interest will request Member States to designate potential EDIHs through a national process, and secondly the European Commission will launch two restricted calls for proposals in which only designated potential EDIHs are eligible to participate, which would allow the EDIHs who did not manage to succeed at the first instance to reapply a second time.
Article courtesy of EAIC member ID Consortium