EDIH DIGI-SI Community Days: Opening of the European hub for the digital transformation of Slovenia


On Friday, 9. 12. 2022, partners of the EDIH DIGI-SI consortium, policy makers, supporting institutions, companies, researchers and other important stakeholders gathered at the opening EDIH DIGI-SI Community Days conference in the Minoritska cerkev in Maribor.

The EDIH DIGI-SI consortium, which began its operations in October of this year, consists of the coordinator the University of Maribor, the Jožef Stefan Institute, ARCTUR, DIGITECH-SI-EAST, Technology Park Ljubljana, Digital Innovation Hub of Slovenia and DIH Agribood run by Innovation Technology Cluster Murska Sobota. The consortium will enable a web of services needed for a comprehensive digitalisation of operations, including planning, consultancy, training, testing equipment, laboratories and top experts.

How EDIH DIGI-SI will help companies and public institutions in the introduction of advanced digital technologies was presented in more detail with our partners at Friday’s conference, where we were addressed by Helena Rodrigues from the European Commission, DG CNECT, who highlighted the importance of European Digital Innovation Hubs (EDIHs) in reducing barriers to digital transformation and illustrated how EDIHs fit into the Digital Europe Programme (DEP).

The Minister of Digital Transformation, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Emilija Stojmenova Duh, in her address, emphasized the importance of Slovenia’s digital transformation in recent decades and its promotion in all areas: “In order for us to be truly successful, measures to achieve the goals must comprehensively address, on the one hand, the strengthening of national research capacities and the transfer of new technological knowledge into better products and services, and on the other hand, the strengthening of the ability to quickly introduce and use digital technologies, products and services intended for both companies and the public sector and, last but not least, all residents.” (Trans.) At the same time, the minister highlighted the importance of developing a strong support environment for digital transformation and thus the role of EDIH DIGI-SI, which will “… accompany start-ups, micro, small and medium-sized enterprises and the public administration on their journey through effective digital transformation ; namely, from the assessment of the situation, testing before investing, the required training to acquire the necessary knowledge and skills, and support to find investment …” (Trans.)

The Vice-rector for Science and Research of the University of Maribor, Prof. Dr. Dean Korošak, highlighted the goal of digitizing the university and its even stronger involvement and connection with the environment, to which EDIH DIGI-SI will actively contribute: “I wish that with EDIH the University of Maribor will breathe with full lungs with Maribor.” (Trans.)

Through its activities, EDIH DIGI-SI wants to provide essential information, knowledge and services to local communities and companies on their journey of digital transformation. EDIH DIGI-SI will support 700 companies on their digital transformation journey worth €3,3 million!

Head of the EDIH DIGI-SI consortium and DIH UM, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Muhamed Turkanović, emphasized that “DIGI-SI’s biggest ambition is that companies will recognize its benefits and that we will gradually contribute to a more effective digital transformation of the Slovenian economy and the public sector” (Trans.) and added: “Today we are gathered at the official, introductory start of the EDIH DIGI-SI project, which has an official start today, but let me point out that it will not have a conclusion. Because the central idea of the European Commission is that EDIHs are not just projects, but become the main arteries of digital transformation in Europe. That is why today is actually one of the introductory meetings for the accelerated digitization of the entire Republic of Slovenia.”

Keynote speaker, Lise-Ann Sheahan, Irish Manufacturing Research, presented good practices in supporting manufacturing companies in their digital innovation efforts. Presenting the working model of the Irish Digital Innovation Hub, Lise-Ann Sheahan illustrated what their practice is in supporting the manufacturing industry, while also revealing to the participants how they encourage networking, mutual support and the transfer of good practices through the European Digital Innovation Hub FactoryxChange. At the same time, she also presented the ADMA TranS4MErs project, in which, in addition to partners from all 27 European Union members, the University of Maribor and Irish Manufacturing Research are also participating. The purpose of the project is to democratize knowledge, which more concretely means consulting and helping small and medium-sized manufacturing companies on their digital transformation journey.

The round table discussed the complementarity of EDIH DIGI-SI services with other supporting institutions and initiatives. The possibilities of cooperation and integration were discussed with moderator Mojca Štruc from the Government Office for Digital Transformation; Assoc. Prof. Dr. Muhamed Turkanović, head of the EDIH DIGI-SI consortium; Andrej Brvar, EEN; Nina Meglič, SRIP Circular Economy; Asst. Prof. Dr. Marko Hoelbl, ATHENA; Damjan Harish, SLING; and Tilen Obradović, MGRT/OECD.

The Digital Innovation Challenge Competition was also held at the conference, where six competitors presented their digital innovations to an international committee in the form of a 5-minute “pitch”. The commission was most convinced by the innovation L-POR of the mPor startup team. L-POR is a high-frequency HF-EP electroporator that works on the principle of electroporation – a method that temporarily increases the permeability of the cell membrane with electrical pulses. With its help, experts can introduce medicinal agents into the cell (chemotherapy) and DNA (gene therapy). Electroporators that are currently on the market are very uncomfortable and often painful for patients due to the stimulation of pain receptors and muscle contraction. While the L-POR is extremely user-friendly and is the only device in the world that allows the generation of electroporation pulses in the entire field of high-frequency electroporation.

At the conference, the DIH UM team also presented the ADMA TranS4MErs project as part of xChange Events, which helps small and medium-sized manufacturing companies start their digital transformation journey, and the AI REGIO project, which promotes the integration of digital innovations with manufacturing SMEs in Europe with the aim of increasing their competitiveness.

Photo: Tadej Bernik



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