The European Commission has proposed the creation of the first-ever Digital Europe Programme, which would invest €9.2 billion to align the next long-term EU budget 2021-2027 with increasing digital challenges. In this frame. European Digital Innovation Hubs (EDIHs) function as one-stop shops that help companies dynamically respond to these challenges and become more competitive.
By providing access to technical expertise and experimentation as well as the possibility to “test before invest”, EDIHs help companies 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 needed for a successful digital transformation. Environmental issues are also taken into account, in particular with regard to energy consumption and low carbon emissions.
How will the EDIHs work?
European Digital Innovation Hubs will have both local and European functions. EU funding will be made available for hubs that are already (or will be) supported by their Member States (or regions), in order to increase the impact of public funding. The Digital Europe Programme will increase the capacities of the selected hubs to cover activities with a clear European added value, based on networking the hubs and promoting the transfer of expertise. Member States have an essential role in the selection process of the EDIHs; the initial network of EDIHs will be established from a list of hubs designated by the Member States.
The European Commission has developed a document that explains how the EDIH will be implemented in the Digital Europe Programme as well as a series of answers to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ).
The Joint Research Centre of the European Commission has developed a practical handbook with good practices on investments in Digital Innovation Hubs. The handbook aims to support regional, national, and RIS3 Implementation policymakers.
Following the ongoing negotiations on the Multi-annual Financial Framework in general and the Digital Europe Programme in particular, a first restricted call for EDIHs is expected to be launched at the end of January 2021, to enable selected EDIHs to start their operation after summer in 2021. This implies that the Member States should be ready to designate their hubs to the Commission by 1 December 2020.