The Digital Europe Program is part of the European Commission's forthcoming long-term budget and aims to support the digital transformation of Europe's economy and society. Within the framework of the program, a network of European digital innovation hubs (EDIH) will be established from 2021 onwards. The idea is that these hubs will play a central role in the implementation of the program and act as providers of the latest digital technologies, including AI, cyber security and high-performance computer systems.
– The purpose of the investment in EDIH is to stimulate a digital transformation in all industries and also in the public sector. The main focus is on increased digitalisation in companies – especially the small and medium-sized ones, says Pär Erik Martinsson, CEO of Process IT Innovations.
According to the European Commission, an EDIH can be multifaceted and consist of several cooperating organizations, but it can also be limited in terms of the number of actors involved and narrowly specialized. More EDIHs are expected to be added after 2021 and the plan is that after a few years there will be between 130 and 260 EDIHs in the network. In Sweden, four to eight EDIHs are expected to be funded through the Digital Europe program.
The European Commission believes that there should be orientations that complement each other in the European network and expects the member states to cooperate with each other and with the regions. Process IT Innovations is running together with Automation Region (Vinnova VinnVäxt) and the strategic innovation program Processindustriell IT och Automation (PiiA).
– The three players have great similarities and together form a large part of the Swedish innovation system within the chosen thematic area IndTech, which is a bit simplified is the technology that makes the industry smart, says Pär Erik Martinsson.
Peter Wallin from PiiA believes that the application to become an EDIH is an important investment:
– PiiA today works for a stronger Swedish process industry with the help of research, development and innovation of Swedish IndTech. Together we can build a strong hub that strengthens Swedish companies' interests in a European arena. It is also a chance to create a common platform and collaborations with other European countries that strengthen the industry, he says.
Catarina Berglund from Automation Region also sees great opportunities with EDIH:
– We see an enormous potential in this investment to further strengthen and deepen collaboration between our players, and to enable simpler ways of supporting financing when small and medium-sized companies have to switch, says Catarina Berglund from AR.
Vinnova will evaluate the proposals received and send a list of candidates to the European Commission before the end of October.