Unlocking the EU Startup Potential – Analyzing the Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI)

Key Takeaways

  • DESI is a vital tool for tracking Europe’s digital performance and guiding policy decisions.
  • Despite progress during the COVID-19 pandemic, EU Member States still face challenges in digital skills, SME transformation, and 5G networks.
  • EUR 127 billion in resources have been allocated to accelerate digitalization and increase the Union’s resilience.
  • Denmark, Finland, and the Netherlands lead in digital performance according to DESI 2022.


In the ever-evolving landscape of the European startup scene, digitalization remains a critical factor in driving growth and innovation. The Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI), a comprehensive assessment of Europe’s digital performance, provides invaluable insights into the region’s digital transformation. As the European Commission’s flagship tool for monitoring progress, DESI offers a holistic view of key areas such as human capital, connectivity, digital integration, and public services. In this article, we delve into the latest DESI report and explore its implications for EU startups.

DESI 2022 – Tracking Digital Progress

Since its inception in 2014, the Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI) has been a cornerstone of the European Commission’s efforts to monitor Member States’ digital progress. The yearly DESI reports include country profiles that aid Member States in identifying priority areas for action. Additionally, thematic chapters offer a European-level analysis, crucial for shaping effective policy decisions.

The DESI 2022 report, mainly based on 2021 data, reflects the progress made by EU Member States in their digitalization efforts. Amid the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, countries have taken significant strides in digitalization. However, certain gaps persist, particularly in digital skills, SME transformation, and the roll-out of advanced 5G networks.

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Capitalizing on the Digital Transformation

Recognizing the importance of digitalization in fostering resilience and reducing external dependencies, the EU has earmarked substantial resources to support the digital transformation. The national Recovery and Resilience Plans will allocate EUR 127 billion to digital-related reforms and investments. This unprecedented opportunity offers a powerful catalyst for accelerating digitalization across the EU.

A notable trend among Member States is their commitment to the digital transformation, with on average 26% of their Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) allocation dedicated to digital initiatives. Several countries, including Austria, Germany, Luxembourg, Ireland, and Lithuania, have chosen to invest even more, allocating over 30% of their RRF funds to digital projects.

DESI 2022 – Unraveling Key Areas

The DESI 2022 report revolves around five key areas that profoundly impact the digitalization journey of EU Member States:

Human Capital: Nurturing a skilled digital workforce is fundamental to driving digital transformation. DESI assesses countries’ progress in this area, shedding light on the development of digital skills and employment opportunities.

Connectivity: A well-connected digital infrastructure forms the backbone of a thriving digital economy. The DESI report evaluates the availability and quality of broadband and 5G networks across the EU.

Integration of Digital Technology: Embracing digital technology across various sectors is a crucial indicator of digital maturity. DESI examines the extent to which digital technologies are integrated into businesses, public services, and societal functions.

Digital Public Services: User-friendly and accessible digital public services are vital for citizen engagement. DESI analyzes the efficiency and accessibility of digital public services provided by Member States.

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Women in Digital (WiD) Scoreboard: Promoting gender diversity and inclusion in the digital workforce is of paramount importance. The WiD scoreboard evaluates women’s inclusion in digital jobs, careers, and entrepreneurship based on 12 indicators.

Unveiling DESI 2022 Results

According to DESI 2022, Denmark, Finland, and the Netherlands lead in digital performance, showcasing their dedication to cultivating a thriving digital ecosystem. These frontrunners set an example for other Member States, inspiring them to prioritize digitalization and unleash the full potential of their startup ecosystems.


The Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI) is an indispensable tool for EU startups seeking to navigate the digital landscape effectively. As Europe embraces the challenges and opportunities of digital transformation, DESI serves as a compass, guiding policymakers and entrepreneurs alike. With human capital, connectivity, digital integration, and public services at the forefront, EU startups can leverage the insights offered by DESI to drive innovation, foster resilience, and chart a path toward a digital future that empowers all.

DESI Official Website

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