The European Commission launched on 19 April 2016 the first industry-related initiative of the Digital Single Market package. Building on and complementing the various national initiatives for digitising industry, the Commission will act to trigger further investments in the digitisation of industry and support the creation of better framework conditions for the digital industrial revolution.
One of the more important pillars of the Digitise European Industry effort is the activity to develop a network of Digital Innovation Hubs (DIH). Digital Innovation Hubs are one-stop-shops that help companies to become more competitive with regard to their business/production processes, products or services using digital technologies. They are based upon technology infrastructure (competence centre) and provide access to the latest knowledge, expertise and technology to support their customers with piloting, testing and experimenting with digital innovations. DIHs also provide business and financing support to implement these innovations, if needed across the value chain. As proximity is considered crucial, they act as a first regional point of contact, a doorway, and strengthen the innovation ecosystem. A DIH is a regional multi-partner cooperation (including organizations like RTOs, universities, industry associations, chambers of commerce, incubator/accelerators, regional development agencies and even governments) and can also have strong linkages with service providers outside of their region supporting companies with access to their services.
The rationale behind this initiative is to help European Industry, small or large, high-tech or not, to grasp the digital opportunities. The Commission will focus 500M€ over the next 5 years from Horizon 2020 budget to support the development of DIHs. It is the Commission's ambition that all companies should have a DIH within their region, through which they should be able to access competences in order to digitise their organisations and their products and services. Furthermore, the services provision by existing Hubs can be strengthened by the establishment of a pan-European network of DIHs.
The Smart Specialisation Platform is working together with DG CONNECT to develop an online tool to visualise DIHs' geographic distribution, to improve their networking and provide information on available services and competencies. The collaboration includes activities to improve the evidence base for sound policies in the area of digital regional growth, by providing examples of how DIHs participate in Smart Specialisation development and implementation, how DIHs network, and different strategies of DIHs depending on their socio-economic context.
The ambition is also to explore – through workshops and diffusion events – possibilities for collaboration between DIHs.