For Europe to remain competitive internationally, all economic sectors must be able to reap the benefits of digital transformation. Building on a European network of Digital Innovation Hubs, the Commission aims to help companies improve their processes, products and services through the use of digital technologies.

image evoking a digital ecosystem

Only about 1 out of 5 companies across the EU are highly digitalised. Similarly, around 60% of large industries and more than 90% of SMEs lag behind in digital innovation. The digital revolution brings opportunities for big and small companies, but many of them still find it difficult to know in which technologies to invest and how to secure financing for their digital transformation. Within this context, Digital Innovation Hubs (DIHs) can help ensure that every company, small or large, high-tech or not, can take advantage of digital opportunities. DIHs are one-stop shops that help companies become more competitive with regard to their business/production processes, products or services using digital technologies. DIHs provide access to technical expertise and experimentation, so that companies can “test before invest”. They also provide innovation services, such as financing advice, training and skills development that are needed for a successful digital transformation.

Scheme on the functioning of Digital Innovation Hubs

 

Future Financial Framework (2021-2027): European Digital Innovation Hubs in Digital Europe Programme

The European Commission has proposed the creation of the first-ever Digital Europe Programme which will invest €9.2 billion to align the next long-term EU budget 2021-2027 with increasing digital challenges.  In a series of workshops, the Commission together with the Member States have developed the way how  European Digital Innovation Hubs (EDIHs) will be implemented within this programme.  Grant opportunities will focus on improved hub facilities and employment of personnel. This will allow EDIHs to deliver services that stimulate a broad uptake of Artificial Intelligence, HPC and Cybersecurity, in both industries (in particular SMEs and midcaps) and public sector organisations.

The selection of EDIHs in DEP will follow a two-step process:

  • Member States will designate potential hubs
  • The Commission will launch a restricted call for proposals that these hubs need to apply for

Table describing the 2 step selection process of European digital innovation hubs

 

Existing hubs, either funded to run experiments under Horizon 2020 or originating from other initiatives such as a local technology transfer institution, can also qualify to become EDIHs, provided that they pass all the steps of the selection procedures, both at Member State and European level. An overview of this process can be found on the dedicated page.

Current Financial Framework (2014-2020): Digital transformation experiments and networking of DIHs

The EU proposed Digital Innovation Hubs as a key priority in the Digitising European Industry Initiative, adopted in April 2016. In particular, the Commission has been supporting digital transformation experiments and networking of DIHs with around EUR 100 million per year through Horizon 2020 projects. These projects typically cascade funding through open calls by engaging SMEs in innovative experiments with DIHs in a cross-border context.

 

How to get involved

  • If you are an organisation willing to become a EDIH please read the detailed instructions here.
  • If you are an organisation willing to be part of a consortium that coordinates EU H2020 projects related to Digital Innovation Hubs, two calls on Digital Manufacturing (I4MS) and Big Data are currently in their evaluation phase. One is open now under the Horizon 2020 programme on Photonics.
  • If you are an SME and want to participate in a digital transformation experiment, please visit the open calls for SMEs.
  • The European Commission has launched training programmes for new DIHs:
  • If you want to become part of the community of Digital Innovation Hubs, and you are an organisation that carries out the functions of a DIH, please register in the Catalogue of Digital Innovation Hubs. This is a “yellow pages” of self-declared DIHs. The purpose of the catalogue is to support networking of Digital Innovation Hubs and to provide an overview of the landscape of Digital Innovation Hubs in Europe, supported by regional, national and European initiatives for the digitalisation of industry. The registration to the catalogue does not provide a quality label and does not imply recognition or funding provided by the European Commission.
  • Join the conversation on the DIHNET site: share best practices, blog about your experience, propose ideas.
  • A working group within the Digitising European Industry initiative brings regularly together stakeholders interested in Digital Innovation Hubs to discuss relevant topics, exchange good practices and move the policy area forward.
  • Find events and workshops related to Digital Innovation Hubs and reports from the working group meetings.