S3P contribution to European Digital SME Alliance event on Digital Innovation Hubs

News article |

On 26 October, representatives from the European Commission, Digital Innovation Hubs (DIHs), regions, and businesses came together to share successful models, best practices, and insights about the future of Europe’s hubs. Participants agreed that DIHs, driven by their local strengths and SME-ecosystems, will be the main catalyst for digital transformation in Europe. Their specialisation and complementarity of services, networking, and collaboration on the European level will be important factors in the hubs’ success.

Digital Innovation Hubs (DIHs) will be the main catalyst of digital transformation in Europe. With an estimated budget of €750 million, the initiative will be a priority for the European Commission’s industrial strategy in next years. But what’s the role of SMEs—digital and traditional—in these hubs? And how can EDIHs become “truly European” as opposed to just local? These were the questions to be answered at DIGITAL SME’s live-streamed conference about “Making European Digital Innovation Hubs work for SMEs” on 26 October.

Best practices by Digital Innovation Hubs from Spain to Romania

Dr Kristina Sinemus, Minister of Digital Strategy and Development at the German State of Hessen delivered a greeting in which she called for Europe to “lead the way in digital”. The first panel started with an introduction of the European Digital Innovation Hubs initiative by Anne-Marie Sassen, Deputy Head of Unit for Technologies and Systems for Digitising Industry at DG CONNECT. Ms Sassen announced the plan to establish EDIHs in every European region, embedded in the local ecosystems, which will help digitise the respective business community. Subsequently, Udo Glaser from digitalHUB Aachen, José Lucio Gonzáles Jiménez from the Cybersecurity Innovation HUB in León, and Nicola Bianchi from EDI Confcommercio in Rome presented their respective hubs.

The second panel opened with a presentation by Gabriel Rissola, expert in territorial innovation ecosystems and ICT at the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre, who presented the Smart Specialisation Strategy (S3) model for DIHs. After that, Dr Stelian Brad from the DIH4Society Hub, Cristina Oyón from the Basque Digital Innovation Hub, Dimos Ioannidis from the Greek “nZEB Smart Home” DIH and Manuel Krieg from the Digital Innovation Hub Ost- und Nordhessen offered insights into the specialisation of their hubs and how they complement the broader network of EDIHs.

Innovation Hubs will succeed if they put innovative SMEs front and centre

Participants all agreed that although regions and sectors have a different pace in adopting new technologies, the pace needs to pick up speed if Europe wants to achieve its digital transformation. “Collaboration is key”, remarked DIGITAL SME Secretary-General Sebastiano Toffaletti when he summed up the discussions after the event. The closing remarks were delivered by Peter Statev, Chairman of the Bulgarian ICT Cluster and the DigiTech DIH. Mr Statev stressed that a “truly European” network of DIHs needs closer coordination across the entire network, while currently most of the collaboration initiatives are structured vertically, concentrating on specific domains.

The European DIGITAL SME Alliance [event's organiser] will continue to intensify its relationships with innovative hubs and clusters across Europe, offer them a collaboration platform and ensure visibility and knowledge-exchange on a European level.

See full event's report, recording & presentations

Brussels, 28 October (DIGITAL SME)