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Unlocking the potential of AI for public services

By Platform

The Policy Learning Platform conducted a matchmaking for the Umbria Region's, on 06 June 2024. The Umbria Region's requested some advice on the challenge "Unlocking the potential of AI for public services".  

Objective of the matchmaking

The objective of the matchmaking session was to address the challenges and opportunities for Umbria Region's starting from their "Master-Plan" for digital transformation, a strategy that aligns with both EU and national digital agendas to enhance public service delivery and decision-making through Artificial Intelligence (AI). The plan aims to optimise operational processes, improve data governance, and foster a smart, data-driven society by adopting AI-based solutions.  

However, the region faces significant challenges such as complex procurement processes for AI technologies, GDPR compliance concerns, and a lack of specialized IT skills within the public sector. These obstacles are further complicated by the region's reliance on external consultants, which hinders long-term capacity building.  

Therefore, the matchmaking session sought to facilitate a focused discussion with experts and peers to exchange best practices and develop a general roadmap to address such barriers. Especially, the following questions were discussed: 

Main Policy Challenges
  • How to tackle the lack of skills, expertise and funding related to procurement processes? (especially Proof of Concept) 

  • How to invest in successful training and capacity-building programs for public servants? How to better communicate on this? 


Beneficiary - Umbria Region, Italy 

  • Chiara Dall’Aglio, Sviluppumbria,  

  • Valeria Covarelli and Benedetta Cerbini, Regione Umbria 


  • Margaret Quinn, ERNACT, Ireland  

  • Povilas Bacevicius, Lithuanian Innovation Center, Lithuania  

  • Marcin Staniszewski, Opolskie Centre for Economy Development/Opolskie Voivodeship Poland 


Key insights

Key recommendations 

  • Digital Agenda “Master Plan”: Umbria’s strategy is already well-advanced. A step forward includes fostering an innovative mindset and readiness for change among employees and stakeholders. Focus initially on implementing low-risk AI solutions that demonstrate quick wins and build confidence. These "low-hanging fruits" can pave the way for more ambitious projects. 

  • Market analysis and Talent recruitment: Continue to engage in comprehensive market analysis to identify and evaluate commercially available AI solutions that can be adopted by the region. Recruit new talents, including roles such as "Chief Digital Officer" and data-oriented specialists, to lead and manage the AI initiatives. This will enhance the public sector's capability to handle AI projects internally. 

  • Funding and Procurement: Identify and map out relevant funding programs, as well as relevant instruments such as Public Procurement of Innovative Solutions (PPI) and Pre-Commercial Procurement (PCP), that can support AI adoption. 

  • Training and Testing: Leverage existing online training programs to upskill public servants in AI and digital transformation. Ensure these programs cover essential topics such as AI basics, ethics, and practical deployment. Adopt a "Test before invest" approach by using Digital Innovation Hubs (DIH) and European Digital Innovation Hubs (EDIH) to pilot AI solutions before full-scale implementation. This minimises risks and allows for adjustments based on pilot outcomes. 

  • Communication: Develop a comprehensive communication strategy to raise awareness about the benefits and potential of AI among public servants and the public. Highlight successful case studies and the positive impact of AI initiatives. 

Artificial Intelligence