Enterprise Ireland launches a competitive process for National Designation of European Digital Innovation Hubs

9th December 2020

A person holding a light bulb illuminating depictions of different types of technology
  • Enterprise Ireland and the European Commission to fund the establishment of a number of European Digital Innovation Hubs

Enterprise Ireland today announced a call for expressions of interest, to complete a national designation process to identify up to three research performing organisations (RPOs) or Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) or other consortia with the intention of establishing European Digital Innovation Hubs. The successful applicants will then be invited to apply to a restricted call that the European Commission will issue.

Successful applicants under that restricted call, will then be jointly funded by the European Commission and Enterprise Ireland to establish their European Digital Innovation Hubs. While agreement has not yet been reached on the final budget, the Commission currently foresees funding in the form of a grant for a duration of three years with the possibility of reapplying at the end of the grant duration for an additional period of four years.

The EDIHs will be “one-stop-shops”, with a research and technology organisation (RPO) or Higher Education Institution (HEI) based lab at its core, that help companies (notably SMEs) and public sector organisations become more competitive in their business/production processes, products or services by providing access to research infrastructure, technical expertise and experimentation, so that these organisations can “test before invest”.

The Commission proposes to invest up to €1 million per year in each hub. The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, through Enterprise Ireland, will then provide matching support. The amount of grant funding will be contingent on the final agreed Commission budget for the programme and the number of hubs in the network. It is expected that two to three EDIHs will be designated from Ireland over the period of the Programme.

European Digital Innovation Hubs (EDIHs) will support businesses and organisations in their digital transformation and will disseminate and support the adoption of technologies in cybersecurity, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and High-Performance Computing (HPC).

Welcoming the announcement, Minister of State for Trade Promotion, Digital and Company Regulation, Robert Troy T.D. said:

“Digital technologies are disrupting market dynamics at increasing speeds, creating both threats and opportunities for businesses. Helping Irish SMEs to embrace digitalisation and keep pace with technological change will create unprecedented opportunities for their growth. The European Digital Innovation Hub programme is a practical initiative to help both companies and the public service address the digitalisation challenge through advice, training and the provision of demonstration facilities. I am pleased to help launch this first step in designating the Irish network of Hubs”.

Julie Sinnamon, CEO of Enterprise Ireland, said:

“To be competitive internationally, Irish SMEs must be able to reap the benefits of digital transformation. Supporting companies to do so is core to Enterprise Ireland’s strategy. The European Digital Innovation Hubs will help companies improve their processes, products and services through the use of digital technologies and will be an important addition to the Irish innovation eco-system”.

Information for the competitive process for National Designation of European Digital Innovation Hubs is available at www.enterprise-ireland.com/edih.

Given the importance of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and its wide application in all sectors, the Commission expects at least one Hub selected from each country will specialise in AI.

Enterprise Ireland will hold an online Open Q&A Forum at 9am, December 17. If you wish to participate, please email edih@enterprise-ireland.com

The competitive Call for Expression of Interest will close at 4pm Irish time on Wednesday 20th January 2021. Only expressions of interest received before or at this time will be considered. All expressions of interest should be submitted to edih@enterprise-ireland.com.

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About European Digital Innovation Hubs

As part of the Digital Europe Programme, the European Commission, together with EU Member States, will establish a network of European Digital Innovation Hubs (EDIHs) to support businesses and organisations in their digital transformation and to disseminate the latest advances in cybersecurity, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and High-Performance Computing (HPC).

The EDIHs will be “one-stop-shops”, with a research and technology organisation (RTO) or higher education institution (HEI) based lab at its core, that help companies (notably SMEs) and public sector organisations become more competitive in their business/production processes, products or services by providing access to research infrastructure, technical expertise and experimentation, so that these organisations can “test before invest”.

As well as research/testing facilities, EDIHs will also provide other innovation services, such as financing advice, and the training and skills development necessary for a successful digital transformation. Environmental issues will be taken into account, in particular with regard to energy consumption and low carbon emissions. It is currently anticipated that there will be 2-3 EDIHs in Ireland (budget permitting). The EDIHs will be co-funded by Member States and the European Commission.

European Commission: https://ec.europa.eu/digital-single-market/en/digital-innovation-hubs
Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment: https://enterprise.gov.ie/en/What-We-Do/Innovation-Research-Development/European-Digital-Innovation-Hubs/

ENDS

For further information contact

Paul Daly

Press and Media Relations

Enterprise Ireland

Paul Daly

+353 87 2235187