The European Commission is looking for organisations based in Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, or Slovenia taking on the role of a Digital Innovation Hub (DIH) to participate in a training programme managed by PwC and Oxentia.

This picture shows on a map the target countries of the call. These are Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia

34 hubs have been selected to participate in the programme

Objectives of the call

As part of the project “Smart Factories in new EU Member States” the European Commission is looking for organisations to take on the role of a “Digital Innovation Hub” (DIH) in EU13 Member States . At least 30 DIHs from 8 countries will be selected to take part in a training programme, which will be managed by PwC and Oxford University Innovation (Oxentia).   

The DIHs should, after having gone through the training programme, be an important pillar for the digitisation of the industry in the selected countries and regions, where at the moment companies (especially those from traditional industrial sectors and SMEs) are investing less in digital technologies than in other parts of Europe or in other sectors.

Setting up DIHs to tackle the digitisation challenge is one of the best practices identified in the "Digitising European Industry" strategy. Several EU Member States have launched initiatives to set up DIHs, for instance the Mittelstand-Digital Competence Centres in Germany, the High Value Manufacturing Catapult in the UK, and Fieldlabs in the Netherlands. Also at European level, there are programmes like I4MS and SAE.

Who can apply?

DIHs are usually formed by a collaboration of different regional actors working together to offer a set of services that the industry of the region needs to go through their digital transformation. Possible actors that could lead applications to this programme are:

  • Universities and research and technology centres (RTOs), generally referred to as ‘competence centres’ (CCs) or ‘centres of competence’ (CoCs);
  • Incubators and accelerators that help start-up companies to grow and scale;
  • Cluster organisations and industry associations representing private sector companies;
  • Public administrations that are aware about the importance of innovation and are developing their smart specialisation plans.

What are the evaluation criteria?

Applications will be assessed according to the following criteria:

  • Vision:
    • Objectives
    • Potential business model
    • Technology and sector focus
    • Services to be provided (mentoring, prototyping areas, test production, access to finance)
    • Partners
  • Strategic Fit with Existing Initiatives
    • Alignment with national and regional digitisation policies and smart specialization strategies
    • Collaboration with other hubs
  • Geographical criteria
    • Presence of SMEs and Innovation Supporting Institutions
    • Market demand
    • Location and ecosystem based attributes (proximity to SMEs, transportation and other facilities, and infrastructure, etc.)

Why apply?

The 30 DIHs that will be selected will participate in a programme which will help them to (further) develop their business plan. The programme will provide training, workshops and mentoring on business development skills and on sustainable activities (including identification of funding opportunities). It will be based on best practices identified by other Digital Innovation Hubs in Europe capitalising on PwC and Oxford University’s state-of-the-art knowledge and experience.

How to apply?

Partners who are interested in participating in the training programme are invited to fill in the Application Form by 7 November. After a first selection, individual interviews will take place. In December the 30 successful applicants will be contacted to take part in the program. 

Background information

A Digital Innovation Hub (DIH) is a support facility that helps companies to become more competitive by improving their business/production processes as well as products and services by means of digital technology. DIHs act as a one-stop-shop, providing customers with access to technology-testing, financing support, market intelligence and networking opportunities. They can focus on key technologies such as robotics, photonics, high performance computing (HPC), cyber-physical systems, etc. They might as well concentrate on specific sectos such as agriculture, construction, manufacturing, etc.

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