Emilia-Romagna takes its name from the old Roman consular road – the Via Emilia or Emilian Way – that crosses the entire territory and has linked Rome to the heart of Europe for over 2,000 years. It boasts an enviable geographical position making it an ideal link between northern and southern Italy, as well as connecting the Mediterranean with northern Europe. The territory of Emilia-Romagna comprises 9 provinces and is situated in central-northern Italy, in the heart of the country’s most industrialised area.
Its network of infrastructure, strategic geographical position and excellent connections to the rest of Italy and the main European cities make the region a key business hub, moreover the region is first in Italy for innovation according to the Regional Innovation Scoreboard 2023.
365.765 SMEs are the driving force of the region’s economy and have fostered the spread of wealth across the entire regional territory. The dynamic nature of the production sector in Emilia-Romagna has resulted in high employment levels; indeed, employed inhabitants amount to over 68%, considerably higher than the Italian average, a strong manufacturing sector employs 25.2% of the total number of employees in Emilia-Romagna, while the Italian average is 18.6% and the European one is 16.1%.
In the Italian landscape, the best performances in the regional DESI, an index developed in Italy by the Politecnico di Milano, are achieved by Lazio, Lombardy and Emilia-Romagna, scoring close to 59 points out of 100. So the region is well positioned nationally but lags behind in comparison with other European regions. The use of the Internet for daily activities and in services and ICT skills, both for the production system and the PA, are aspects on which the gap between Italy and the EU is greater.
Emilia-Romagna Regional Ecosystem of Digital Innovation (ER2Digit) is the EDIH of the region created to foster the improvement of public service delivery and the adoption of innovative digital solutions in public administration and businesses. Together with ER2Digit a number of local DIHs (almost 21) are members of the Regional network for supporting the digital transition of enterprises. The Region had developed a collaboration with the network within a regional call for proposals that financed, with resources from the European Regional Development Fund Pr-Fesr 2021-2027, the digitization of enterprises. 890 applications were submitted and 701 smes were funded with nearly 51 million euros of grants awarded that set in motion total investments of 133 million. All the applications requested a first digital assessment done with members of the network, a smart way to encourage business contact with DIHs and to gather data related to the status of the digitalization of enterprises.
An important result that went beyond the expectations. A clear response - said Region President Stefano Bonaccini and Councillor Vicenzo Colla - from businesses in Emilia-Romagna to the effectiveness of our choices to support the push for investment. The digitization of our businesses represents one of the most important challenges in the transition path undertaken, across all sectors. This call for proposals confirms that the actions put in place are going in the right direction, ensuring targeted public support that, together with private investment, makes it possible to deploy unprecedented resources. An essential turning point, therefore, to maintain the competitiveness of our system at the national and international level and create new quality jobs.
Within BEST DIH activities we aim to further improve the collaboration among SMEs and DIHs improving the policy instrument to support the Regional network and ER2Digit.