What are the challenges of digitization in Europe? How can small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and policy makers work together? What is needed to strengthen the exchange of innovative practices between regions and countries of the Alpine region?
These are just a few of the issues addressed by the participants in the conference “Digital Europe and the Future of the Role of DIHs / S3”. The event, which took place in Brussels, was co-organized Slovenian Business and Research Association and Technology Park Ljubljana.
Benefits to all citizens and businesses
Žiga Bahovec from DG CNECT first explained the objectives of European incentives for digitization. “The main objective is to ensure that Europe is driving the digital transformation of society and the economy, which benefits all citizens and businesses,” Bahovec said.
Among other things, the EU wants to strengthen its digital capabilities, lead the development of next-generation technologies and build a world-leading connectivity infrastructure. In total, the EU has earmarked € 9.2 billion for various digitization related projects.
The rationale for these comprehensive efforts is clear. Bahovec stressed that the EU's digital strategic capabilities will enable global competition, regain control of European value chains and better address Europe's economic and societal challenges.
DIH: One-stop shop for digital transformation
Katja Reppel, Deputy Head of DG Smart and Sustainable Growth for Regional and Urban Policy, further explained the role of digital innovation hubs and hubs (DIH).
DIHs are regional multilateral partnership services that support both SMEs and the public sector in their digital transformation. They provide access to the latest, professional know-how and support in piloting, testing and experimenting with digital innovation. DIHs also provide business and financial support for the implementation of these innovations.
Best Practices in the Alpine Space
The exchange of innovative practices, largely facilitated by DIH, has been particularly successful between regions and countries of the Alpine region.
The Alpine Space is a European transnational cooperation program that provides a framework for cooperation between key economic, social and environmental players in seven Alpine countries.
One of the participants is TECOS – Development Tool Center of Slovenia. Dr. Aleš Hančič, Director, explained how TECOS facilitates collaboration with DIH platforms. He said DIHs are “a common method of helping regional and national strategic institutions understand how RIS3 value creation can be promoted.”
“Developing the Digital Hub is helping SMEs as a key player in the rollout of digital innovation. This is a collaborative environment where SMEs, intermediaries and policy makers can collaborate and leverage the services provided by the project SMART-SPACE. HUB also provides access to and collaboration between different communities. There are also many events, special services addressed to SMEs, intermediaries and policy makers who are ready to support this path of digitization. Integrating smart technologies in line with the Digital Single Market Strategy and the EU Industry Digitization Plan, SMART-SPACE supports the Alpine Strategic Partnership and the HUB for Digital Innovation. It helps optimize local and European Union initiatives and maximize their impact, “said Jaen Jacques Bernardini.
Other examples of use and best practices were also presented by dr. Jürgen Jähnert, CEO of Bwcon, Fiorenzo Cazzato, Regione Veneto, Esteban Pelayo, EURADA – European Association of Development Agencies and Jean-Jacques Bernerdini, Grand E-nov.