- European Digital Innovation Hubs (EDIHs) act as one-stop shops, supporting companies and public sector organizations to respond to digital challenges and become more competitive.
- EDIHs support companies to improve business/production processes, products, or services using digital technologies by –
- providing access to technical expertise and testing, as well as the possibility to ‘test before invest’
- providing innovation services, such as financing advice, training, and skills development that are central to successful digital transformation
- helping companies tackle environmental issues, in particular the use of digital technologies for sustainability and circularity.
EDIHs combine the benefits of a regional presence with the opportunities available to a pan-European network. This regional presence leaves them well-placed to provide the services local companies need, through the local language and innovation ecosystem. The European coverage of the network facilitates the exchange of best practices across hubs in different countries as well as the provision of specialised services across regions when the required skills are not locally available.
Following the adoption of the Digital Europe Programme work programme (DIGITAL) (.pdf), the first restricted call for EDIHs has been completed with 136 projects chosen and most hubs operational in January 2023. A second call was launched to supplement the selection of EDIHs and to fill the gaps in the Network which resulted in the selection of a further 15 hubs. These further hubs will likely be operational by mid 2023. Under this programme, 50% of the funding is provided by DIGITAL, and the other 50% is provided by the Member States, associated countries, their regions and/or private sources. National governments and regional authorities played a central role in the selection process of the EDIHs by identifying suitable candidate EDIHs to respond to the European calls for proposals.
High-quality candidate EDIHs, for which no DIGITAL funding was available, have received a Seal of Excellence. Some of these will be funded by their Member States or region and once they are operational, they can also become part of the network of EDIHs.
The EDIH Network
With the EDIH network the European Commission wants to build a vibrant community of hubs and other stakeholders fostering networking, co-operation, and knowledge transfer activities between EDIH, SME and mid-caps, the public sector and the other relevant stakeholders and initiatives. The Digital Transformation Accelerator (DTA) is supporting the achievement of this goal, through managing the web presence of the network, and hosting appropriate software platform and tools, including the online catalogue of EDIHs.
The EDIH network web portal includes tools to assess the performance of the EDIH network, gauging the impact that EDIHs have on the digital maturity of the organisations they support. To this end, the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission has developed a Digital Maturity Assessment tool which can be used by all EDIHs to measure the progress of Digital Maturity of their customers. The Digital Maturity Assessment tool is available in the section of the web portal reserved for registered EDIHs.
European Digital Innovation Hubs and other initiatives
Many EDIHs include organisations that are part of Enterprise Europe Network (EEN) or European Industrial Clusters (EIC). EDIHs should develop a strong connection with other networks, including EEN, EIC and Start-up Europe, to provide a seamless service to SMEs within local and regional ecosystems. A guidance document is under development to provide good practices and further detail on this cooperation.
The establishment of European Digital Innovation Hubs (EDIHs) marks a significant step towards driving digital transformation and fostering competitiveness in the EU startup landscape. These one-stop shops play a vital role in supporting companies and public sector organizations in navigating digital challenges and unlocking their full potential.
EDIHs provide a range of essential services to facilitate digital innovation. By offering access to technical expertise, testing facilities, and opportunities for “test before invest,” they empower companies to improve their business processes, products, and services using digital technologies. Additionally, EDIHs provide crucial innovation services such as financing advice, training, and skills development, which are central to successful digital transformations. They also promote the use of digital technologies for sustainability and circularity, helping companies tackle environmental challenges.
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