On 25 February 2021, the Policy Learning Platform hosted a webinar on the topic of digital innovation ecosystems. The digital transformation of the European Union is one of the three key priorities of the current EU presidency. The theme has a profound impact on regional development policies and relevance for SME support but also the modernisation of public services.
Furthermore, digital transformation has been identified as an enabling condition in the current programming round for the Smart Specialisation Strategies for 2021-2027 with a direct impact on Operational Programmes. Major challenges exist concerning access to digital infrastructures and services notably the differences between metropolitan/urban locations and more rural/peripheral regions.
Actions to facilitate cooperation between ecosystem actors is also considered an important priority to facilitate the creation of networks and sharing resources, especially when it comes to responding to SME needs.
Webinar agenda overview
Navigate to the discussion topics of interest in the webinar agenda overview below.
00:31:20 Q&A: Are they key services that are of added value for SMEs in the European Digital Innovation Hub programme?
00:31:30 Q&A: To what extent does the Digital Innovation Hub initiative need to be aligned with the Smart Specialisation Strategies?
00:45:15 Q&A: What is the cost of this comprehensive digital transformation effort in Romania, and how is the economic sustainabilty ensured in the future? And what is the policy instrument that supports the projects related to the local digital strategy?
00:58:43 Q&A: How was the approach selected of first creating a network and then establishing the infrastructure? Was there a lack of resources for a concrete infrastructure at start or good understanding of local context ?
01:00:49 Q&A: How do you ensure interdisciplinarity within the network?
01:03:04 Q&A: What types of initiatives are being developed in your region or in cooperation with other regions to promote or implement digital transformation?
01:14:31 Q&A: Feedback of speakers on how the ecosystem can work together to produce an interesting EDH initiative?
01:18:11 Q&A: Will EDIH proposals passing the threshold but no money receive the seal of excellence?
01:19:40 Q&A: How does the commission ensure better support and coordination with the member states in order to make good use of the funding possibilities?
01:22:12 Q&A: Can you give 3 tips to achieve project funding?
Sandro D’Elia, DG Connect, presented the current EU digital policy priorities, especially with regards to digital innovation hubs. He highlighted the forthcoming call on the European Digital Innovation Hubs initiative that aims to develop a pan European digital hub network "within a working day" for each EU SME. He highlighted in particular the need to create strong interregional partnerships, either based on cross border relationships or pan-European networks linked by a shared technology focus, such as artificial intelligence or cyber security. Relevant Interreg Europe projects can clearly play a role in establishing such partnerships.
Cristian Gotia, West ARD Romania, presented the good practice concerning the Monitoring of the Arad City Digital Strategy from Interreg Europe MONITORIS3. He put forward a number of recommendations, for example engaging with key stakeholders including the younger generation, attracting key business intermediaries such as clusters and Enterprise Europe Network and using KPIs to act as an action plan focus.
Claus Zeppelzauer, from ECOPLUS Austria shared a good practice from INKREASE called Virtual House of Digitalisation, inspired by the CRAFT project in Brittany. This initiative has developed from a virtual model to a physical infrastructure enabling business to access high value-added services both via digital and physical contacts. The latest phase of development has entailed establishing interregional links with neighbouring regions Upper Austria and Vienna and strengthening cooperation with relevant digital stakeholders. During 2020 the partners have experimented with the use of vouchers to incentivise SMEs to digitalise.
The panel discussion session was joined by Clive Peckham from Interreg Europe project CARPE DIGEM, that focuses on developing digital ecosystem strategies, and together they answered questions from attendees. Tips from the panellists regarding how to preparing a strong EDIH bid included: present a good concept, have a focus and do not try to cover all technologies; ensure you demonstrate how you will meet SME needs and present a "plan B" regarding service delivery.
Marc Pattinson, Thematic Expert in research and innovation, in his conclusion, pointed out that the European Digital Innovation Hub call will offer interesting opportunities for strengthening interregional digital ecosystem cooperation and partnerships between regions.