European Digital Innovation Hubs

In April 2016, the European Commission presented the Digitising European Industry Strategy (DEI). The overall objective of this initiative was to ensure that any industry in Europe – big or small, wherever situated and in whichever sector – could fully benefit from digital innovations to upgrade its products, improve its processes and adapt its business models to the digital age. This required not only a dynamic digital sector in Europe but also the full integration of digital innovations across all sectors of the economy. The DEI strategy was based on an ambitious collective effort involving public and private stakeholders across Europe at regional, national and EU level. It consisted of four areas of work: Digital Innovation Hubs, Partnerships & Platforms, Skills & Jobs, and Regulatory Framework. This work was monitored and stirred by the European Platform of national initiatives on digitising industry.

Digital Innovation Hubs (DIHs) are one of the key elements of the DEI strategy. They are support facilities that help companies – notably SMEs, start-ups and mid-caps – to become more competitive through the adoption of the latest digital technologies. The DIHs act as a one-stop-shop, providing their customers with:

  • Access to digital technologies, infrastructures and competencies to test digital innovations;
  • Training to develop digital skills;
  • Financing advice ;
  • Market intelligence and Networking opportunities.

The aim of DEI is to have at least one DIH in every region in Europe. Member States and regions are investing to establish the DIHs infrastructure with different sources of funding at national and regional levels, but also through the management of European funds such as the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI). The European Commission, from its side, invested in EU-wide collaboration across the network of DIHs and networking among the DIHs. This started in 2013 with the ICT Innovation for Manufacturing SMEs (I4MS) initiative, followed by the Smart Anything Everywhere initiative (SAE) in 2015.

The Smart Anything Everywhere initiative is now closing. In 2021, the Digital European Programme (DIGITAL) was launched by the Commission to build the strategic digital capacities of the EU and to facilitate the wide deployment of digital technologies. DIGITAL is a new EU funding programme focused on bringing digital technology to businesses, citizens and public administrations. It relies on the European Digital Innovation Hubs (EDIHs), which are one-stop shops supporting companies to respond to digital challenges and become more competitive.

By providing access to technical expertise and testing, as well as the possibility to ‘test before invest’, EDIHs support companies to improve business/production processes, products, or services using digital technologies. They also provide innovation services, such as financing advice, training, and skills development that are central to successful digital transformation. Environmental issues are also taken into account, in particular with regard to the use of digital technologies for sustainability and circularity.” [1]

In 2022, a first batch of 136 EDIHs was selected and is expected to be operational by the end of 2022. These EDIH are expected to be running for 7 years (3 initials years and 4 to be renewed) and will receive up to 1 million euros in funding from the European Commission per year.

This group of EDIHs should be enlarged with a second call running between September and November 2022.

DigiFed consortium members are part of:

  • 6 DIHs
    • Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes (France): Minalogic (Minasmart)
    • Baden-Württenberg (Germany): Steinbeis
    • Budapest & Central Hungary (Hungary): BME
    • Ljubljana (Slovenia): ULJ (4PDIH)
    • London (UK): Digital Catapult
    • DIGIHALL (FR): CEA
  • 2 newly selected EDIHs:
    • MinaSmart Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes (France)
    • EDIH-AICS Karlsruhe (Germany)
  • 2 DIHs granted as Seal of Excellence
    • 4PDIH, UL (Slovenia)
    • Basque Digital Innovation Hub – BDIH (spris.eus) (Spain).

[1] https://digital-strategy.ec.europa.eu/en/activities/edihs