At the Digital Day in Rome the European Commission launched the European platform of national initiatives on digitising industry. It brings together the 13 existing national initiatives to digitise industry to improve the sharing of best practices and make sure that measures taken by Member States can complement and reinforce each other. The platform will soon be reinforced by the nine national initiatives currently in preparation.

Today at the Digital Day in Rome , ministers, state secretaries and industry leaders pledged to collaborate and work jointly within the European platform to support the roll-out of digitisation of industry across Europe. The platform will trigger collaboration and joint investments, will provide a forum to explore common approaches to regulatory problems and help industries and countries exchange the means for re-skilling of the workforce. The European Commission is investing more than €5 billion in digital innovation hubs and on strengthening leadership in industrial technologies and platforms. Member States will soon outline their plans for future resources and investment at national and regional level towards digital priorities, from the transfer of digital innovations to any industry across all sectors of the economy, to boosting the European innovation capacity for the emergence of digital industrial platforms of tomorrow.The EU's strategy to digitise industry aims to ensure that any industry in Europe, big or small, wherever situated and in any sector can fully benefit from digital innovations to upgrade its products, improve its processes and adapt its business models to the digital change.

Andrus Ansip, Vice-President of the European Commission for the Digital Single Market said "I congratulate the Member States which have already started their national political initiatives, committing significant financial and organisational resources to digitising European industry. I warmly welcome the newcomers and encourage other countries to join.  The European platform of national initiatives is an example of a collaborative and cohesive European Union. This is a strong effort at European level, but it will produce results only if Member States do their part and support industry and innovation communities in their regions which drive digital transformation."

Günther H. Oettinger, European Commissioner for Budget and Human Resources said: "One year ago I stated that Europe will only be able to maintain its leading role in key industrial areas if the digitisation of its industry is successful and reached fast. The establishment of the European platform of platforms is an important milestone; it will enable us to provide timely and efficient support to our industry, especially SME. This is what Europe needs now."

Markku Markkula, President of the European Committee of the Regions said: "Europe's citizens expect the EU to take stronger steps to encourage and support bottom-up movements so they can take full advantage of digitalisation in every region and city of Europe. This Platform of Platforms is one positive step forward for Europe. To achieve our common vision, we must work together and speed-up the change at all levels, from local to European, so our European industries can flourish and citizens are enabled to thrive in the modern world."

More quotes from some ministers of the participating countries can be found here.

The Platform builds on, and complements 13 ongoing national policy initiatives in Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and Sweden. It will expand to welcome and support new upcoming national initiatives which are under preparation in nine more countries (Bulgaria, Croatia, Finland, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, United Kingdom).

Map of the Countries participating in the industry initiative

Investment from EU and Member States

The Commission has invested hundreds of millions of euro in initiatives which support the digital transformation of SMEs and mid-caps companies. For example, through the €150 million I4MS initiative (ICT Innovation for Manufacturing SMEs), companies in the manufacturing sector have been able to receive the support needed to assess, plan, and master their digital transformation, to hook into innovation networks and to receive invaluable financial support for experimenting and testing out digital innovations.  

Close to €5 billion are earmarked in Horizon 2020 programme for research and innovation for pan-European work on digital innovation hubs and on strengthening leadership in industrial technologies and platforms across value chains. Member States and regions are expected to leverage the EU investments by a factor of 10 in the building of capacity and of incentives to industry to facilitate the transfer of digital innovations to any industry across all the sectors of the economy and to invest ICT R&I funds into the emergence of digital industrial platforms of tomorrow.

Next steps

The new European platform will coordinate and complement the work done by national initiatives towards the overall objective of granting easy access to digital technologies for any industry, and will review the level of investments needed to meet the digitisation challenges faced by industry. It will also analyse progress on the regulatory side including on data flow, data access and ownership, on cybersecurity and liability.

Background

Industry is one of the pillars of the European economy – the manufacturing sector in the European Union for example accounts for 2 million enterprises, 33 million jobs and 60% of productivity growth. We stand on the brink of a new industrial revolution, driven by new-generation information technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), cloud computing, 5G, big data and data analytics, robotics and artificial intelligence, and 3D printing. They open new horizons for industry to become more adventurous, more efficient, to improve processes and to develop innovative products and services. Recent studies estimate that digitisation of products and services can add more than €110 billion of annual revenue in Europe in the next five years.

European industry is strong in digital sectors such as electronics for automotive, security and energy markets, telecom equipment, business software, and laser and sensor technologies. Europe also hosts world-class research and technology institutes. However, high-tech sectors face severe competition from other parts of the world. In many traditional and in particular engineering sectors, Europe is very strong with a huge potential for digitisation, in particular for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and mid-caps, even strengthening Europe's position. There are also large disparities in digitisation between regions.

This is a major element of the EU's blueprint to digitise European industry, presented by the European Commission in April 2016 under the Digital Single Market strategy.