Digitising European Industry: taking stock, June 2017

  • Yves Paindaveine profile
    Yves Paindaveine
    23 June 2017 - updated 1 year ago
    Total votes: 2

More than a year after adoption of the Communication, the digitising European industry initiative records several achievements.

National initiatives and the European platform, and related events 

  • A well-attended first Stakeholder Forum, co-organised by DG CONNECT and the German ministry of economic affairs in Essen, February 2017 attracted 500 people to meet and discuss how to make European industry digital and fit for the future. The event stressed the need for EU-level cooperation and the importance of digital know-how and skills for the jobs of the future.
  • A large mobilisation in the Member States with close to 15 national initiatives already launched (most recently being Lithuania mid-May and Poland), up from 6 platforms two years ago, and more than 6 other platforms in preparation for a launch still in 2017. By the end of the year, we expect more than 20 MSs to have national digitisation strategies [1].
  • Last March, a European Platform of national initiatives was launched at the Digital Day in Rome to share national best practices and build a critical size of initiatives and investments to support more actively together with you. The launch featured interventions by Ministers, Deputy Ministers and State Secretaries of the Member States and by business leaders of the European industry in their steering roles of the national initiatives.
  • A preliminary analysis of national initiatives shows clear alignment with the proposed approach. This includes notably intensive investments in digital innovation hubs in support of SMEs and a clear focusing of R&I programmes in the priority areas identified in the Digitising European Industry initiative. A big step forward is the commitment from several countries towards substantial co-investments in EU-wide projects such as HPC (as illustrated in the Rome announcements), micro and nano-electronics, and Connected and Autonomous Driving (CAD). Important also is the common on-going work on open industrial data platforms and reference architectures for standardisation.

  • You will find the publication of several reports on the national initiatives here.

Boosting the digital innovation capacity of the EU

  • EU has now earmarked its investments in Research and Innovation until 2020. Digitising European Industry features as a key priority in the Work Programmes of Horizon 2020 since 2016 and in 2018-20.

Digital Innovation Hubs

  • As announced in the initiative, more than €500 million are foreseen to reinforce and connect digital innovation hubs across regions. EU investments to the hubs so far (~€100 Million per year up to 2016) have enabled the support to more than 150 digital competence centres across Europe and provided access to technology and knowledge to more than 1500 innovative SMEs. Initial results show significant return on investments to SMEs and are good use-cases. Investments foreseen in the coming three years are presented in the next steps below.

  • The Working Group on Digital Innovation Hubs has delivered a final report which will be discussed in a workshop on 27 June 2017. It has developed together a set of recommendations for the development of a network of Digital Innovation Hubs in Europe. Based on the needs of industry with respect to digital transformation, they have defined a set of guidelines for services a Digital Innovation Hub could offer.
  • An overview of the situation of Digital Innovation Hubs in each country will support every country to reflect whether it offers sufficient opportunities for its industry to digitise, or whether more support is desirable. The objective is for them to develop a "national digital innovation hub plan".
  • A catalogue of Digital Innovation Hubs is ongoing work, with the objective to support networking among Digital Innovation Hubs when looking for the best competences across the EU. A first version is available here: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1BDgYQMueJw6tTpchGe1BO6ZiPuU&usp=sharing
  • Mentoring programmes: Initiatives of training and mentoring by existing DIHs were started to develop further a network of DIHs in the next two years, notably in regions insufficiently covered in the network of DIHs and in Central & Eastern Europe. This programme will be carried out by Price Waterhouse Cooper and they kicked off their activities at the Open Innovation Conference in Cluj Romania on 13/14 June.

Digital Industrial Platforms

  • On Industrial Digital Platforms, more than €3 Billion will be dedicated from H2020 to the priority areas of digitising European Industry in 2018-20. The relevant Work Programmes are now in the Comitology process and should be adopted in September 2017.
  • As mentioned in the DSM mid-term review Communication adopted in May: "a continued investment of close to EUR 3.2 billion in key technologies including nanoelectronics, photonics, robotics, 5G, high performance computing, big data, cloud computing, and artificial intelligence and their integration along the value chains with pilot lines, testbeds, is also planned. Of this investment, EUR 300 million has been specifically planned for the development of next generation of digital industrial platforms, in particular through new reference architecture models leading to smart factories and services. A key success factor to the digitalisation of EU industry is to mobilise a critical mass of investments through leveraging the total European R&I investment by further private and national public investments, notably through Public-Private Partnerships to increase its impact on all sectors of the economy. This brings the total European R&I to around €5.5 billion, which is further leveraged by private and national public investments, notably through Public-Private Partnerships to increase its impact on all sectors of the economy."
  • Working Group 2 on Digital Industrial Platforms produced a first report and presented the preliminary findings and recommendations to all stakeholders at a workshop in May. The report is currently being updated to reflect upon the latest developments and will be discussed in the workshop on 27 June. 

    DSM deliverables of importance to industry: regulatory frameworks and skills

    In May 2017, the Commission adopted the mid-term review of the DSM and presented proposals and policy initiatives which all seek to remove existing online barriers and allowing citizens, business and governments to benefit from the growing digital economy. The Digitising European Industry initiative aims therefore at bringing an industrial perspective to all relevant DSM deliverables.

    Three areas are of particular importance for the European industry: (i) clarification to the regulatory framework, notably on data (see Communication "Building a European Data Economy" and  first overview to the online public consultation), safety and liability of autonomous systems, (ii) cybersecurity, and (iii) stimulation of major skills initiatives.

    The skills dimension is very embedded in the necessary collaboration and exchange of best practices among Member States (see for example, a repository of best practices can be found here, linked from here) as well as in the Digital Innovation Hubs whose primary objective is indeed to provide the latest digital technologies, expertise and knowledge to potential users of such technologies.

    These measures are addressed more specifically in the progress of the DSM deliverables.

    What next?

    In Autumn, the high-level representatives nominated by their minister to the Roundtable will gather at a date to be announced, to take stock of the achievements of the national initiatives and of the outcome of the Working Groups on Digital Innovation Hubs and on Digital Industrial Platforms launched last year at the first Roundtable, as well as to prepare the next steps, notably about the level of ambitions for the European Platform of national initiatives, about future Working Groups on specific topics and the future of existing Working Groups.

    In order to prepare the Autumn Roundtable and meeting of the European Platform of national initiatives, a meeting of the sherpa's of the Roundtable representatives will discuss the achievements and the next steps.


    [1]  Ongoing National Initiatives (15): Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Portugal, Sweden, Further national initiatives were in preparation (7):  Bulgaria, Croatia, Finland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, United Kingdom.