Within the Digital Europe Program (DEP), the European Commission has envisioned the establishment of European Digital Innovation Hubs (EDIH) which will help promote and advance the digital transformation of the economy and the public sector. EDIH’s will focus on the introduction of new approaches, processes, and procedures aided by advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence, super-computing (HPC) and cyber security.
The consortium DIGI-SI, which is coordinated by the University of Maribor and DIH UM in particular, is one of the Slovenian national candidates for EDIH. Among other services offered to companies, it provides support to businesses who wish to experiment and test their digital solution (especially those related to the Industry 4.0 and 5.0), learn more about the possibilities for collaboration with researchers or other firms in the region, get to know good practice examples from around Europe, enhance their knowledge and competencies, or require expert advice on the process of digital transformation itself.
During the DIGI-SI online event, which took place on the 15th of April 2021 on the MS Teams platform, 90 participants got together with representatives of the European Commission, the pan-European initiative DIHNET / FUNDINGBOX, MGRT, MPA, SPIRIT Slovenia, SPS and GZS. During the event attendees gained a better insight into funding opportunities for new projects, access to grants, and activities and programs which aim to accelerate the digital transformation of SME’s and will be organized by the wider support environment in the future. Moreover, with the help of practical examples we demonstrated how, by taking advantage of the services of our digital support environment, even a micro company can realize its vision and achieve a global breakthrough.
In his introductory speech prof. dr. Zdravko Kačič, the Rector of the University of Maribor (UM), presented the objectives, opportunities, and resources available for the implementation of a digital strategy. “In the University of Maribor, we are aware of the opportunities that developments in the field of digitalisation create. Because of this, the Digital Innovation Hub UM, which is actively involved in the development of the field of digitalization, was established. At the same time, UM is carrying out numerous projects which aim to create a better understanding of the scope of this field, and through multi and interdisciplinary connections, within UM and beyond, comprehensively address it” prof. dr. Zdravko Kačič highlighted in his speech.
In what followed, doc. dr. Muhamed Turkanović, the head of the DIGI-SI consortium and DIH UM, presented the activities of DIGI-SI. He concluded his presentation with an encouraging thought: “Today we are here in the role of speakers, however, only to ensure that tomorrow we can listen to you, connect with you, cooperate with you, share knowledge and present good practices from which we can all learn.”
One of the key events of the meeting was the round table where representatives of MPA, MGRT, SPS, SPIRIT Slovenia and GZS discussed the consolidation of the Slovenian entrepreneurship support ecosystem in the field of digital transformation and internationalization of companies within the new EU financial perspective. The speakers considered how different stakeholders – researchers, companies and the public sector – within the field of digitalisation can work together and towards common progress through cooperation.
Representatives of FUNDINGBOX introduced their platform and cascade funding opportunities. Dr. Claus Hoffmann, Director of the Landkreis Böblingen Digitalization Center, presented an example of international good practice, namely how support for digital transformation is taking place in Germany. In what followed, dr. Vili Podgorelec provided best practice examples realized with the help of the DIGI-SI consortium.
The second part of the event focused on the presentation of individual DIGI-SI partners and the sectors in which they are active. Participants were able to join the consortium partners in separate rooms, each covering one of the six thematic areas they are actively involved in:
- HPC RIVR: National Supercomputer Center;
- Open Access; Practical examples of the use of digital solutions in agriculture;
- The latest global trends in the field of artificial intelligence in healthcare;
- Opportunities for co-financing projects focusing on the introduction supercomputing in SME’s;
- Presentation of future needs for staff in the field of digitalization;
- Presentation of the latest technologies which can be implemented in the manufacturing sector.