Digital Innovation Hubs (DIH) support SMEs in surviving the digital change and realizing the innovation and growth potential that digitalization holds for them
In order to support SMEs with digitization, several digital innovation hubs (DIH) were created in Austria. Each serves as a network of existing facilities (so-called "digital centers") that use their expertise and infrastructure to facilitate digital transformation process of SMEs. The national DIH program pursues the following goals with new interventions or by linking to existing measures:
• Mobilizing Austrian SMEs to actively participate in digital change in order to leverage productivity, innovation and value creation potential and to strengthen competitiveness
• Providing institutionalized access for SMEs to expertise and know-how on digitization as well as knowledge transfer to companies via further training measures
• Supporting digitization innovations in SMEs through access to infrastructure, opening up new business models, collaborative R&D and development of prototypes for digitization applications
• Improved integration of Austrian experts in European networks
• Large regional coverage. The majority of Austrian SMEs shall have a hub as the first point of contact in their direct surroundings
• Matching the content of the offer to regional needs. Consortia that focus on their offerings in one of the areas of artificial intelligence (AI), cyber security, data science, blockchain and 3D printing are particularly addressed
• Preparation of Austrian stakeholders for participation in corresponding European innovation hub initiatives
Funding for 1st call (2018/2019): EUR 3 Mio. (2 persons within FFG responsible for implementation of call)
For 2nd call (2020): EUR 4 Mio. (2 persons within FFG responsible for implementation of call)
For 3rd call (end of 2020): EUR 1 Mio. (funding for expansion of already existing hubs)
Evidence of success
3 out of the submitted 8 projects were recommended for funding in May 2019:
- DIH-Eastern Austria (Digital Innovation Hub - Lower Austria, Vienna, Burgenland)
- DiMaHub ("Digital Makers Hub")
- DIH West (Digital Innovation Hub West)
Total funding commitments: EUR 2.6 million
All hubs are currently in the construction phase.
In the meantime, the federal province of Carinthia has started its own “DIH South” (without federal funding), due to the success of the already funded DIHs.
So far, there have not been any difficulties encountered. The demand for funding for digital innovation hubs was so high, that only 3 out of 8 submissions have been selected to get funding.
Potential for learning or transfer
A key success factor of the DIH program is the consideration of and collaboration with the federal provinces (regions). They know the needs of the SMEs in the region and collaborate with the regional higher education & research institutions. As a consequence, the submissions are well coordinated and tailored to the needs of the region(s).
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