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Joining forces in support of digital transformation SMEs



Together, the four European Digital Innovation Hubs (EDIHs) of Baden-Württemberg, Catalonia, East Netherlands and Flanders will work to strengthen services for SMEs in their regions. On Wednesday 11 October, the four hub managers signed an agreement cooperation for this purpose in Brussels during the 21st European Week of Regions and Cities (EWRC). 

With the official launch of the collaboration, the EDIHs agreed to act together to bundle services where possible, organise activities and events to support digital transformation in SMEs while strengthening their support ecosystem in the four regions.
The EDIHs are a regional one-stop-shop for SMEs on digital transformation. They support businesses across Europe to increase the uptake, adoption and implementation of digital technologies in their products, services, daily operations and processes to enhance their business and strengthen their position in European value chains. EDIH BOOST Robotics EASTNL is specialised in digitalisation in the sectors Manufacturing, Healthcare and Agri-food.

The EDIHs are a regional one-stop-shop for SMEs in the field of digitalisation. They support companies across Europe in increasing the adoption, application and implementation of digital technologies in their products, services, daily operations and processes to improve their business and strengthen their position in European value chains. 
EDIH BOOST ROBOTICS EASTNL specialises in digitalisation in the Manufacturing, Healthcare and Agri-food sectors. EDIH AICS from Baden-Württemberg has AI labs and cybersecurity expertise. DIH4CAT from Catalonia has an additional focus on addiditive and advanced manufacturing. Flanders also specialises in digitalisation in manufacturing. The EDIHs are part of the European Digital Europe programme. 

The Hubs want to get started right away by exchanging best practices in hub management, such as the innovation brokers used in the eastern Netherlands. Companies are advised and guided by innovation brokers from Kennispoort Regio Zwolle, RCT Gelderland and Novel-T, among others. "This model is an inspiration for us in Flanders. We use a similar concept with ambassadors. With the knowledge about the East Netherlands approach, we can advise our ambassadors how to reach entrepreneurs even better," according to Ger van den Kerkhof.
The Catalan EDIH was the first to be approved by the European Commission. Hub Manager Sandra Perez: "We have been operational for over a year now and have already supported 2,000 projects with companies. We hope to expand the capacity of services with this collaboration. This way, companies can also go to other regions for specialist knowledge and expertise."

There is also attention for the opportunities digitalisation offers for raw material and waste reduction. "We are working with climate coaches in Baden-Württemberg, to encourage circular entrepreneurship. We would like to export this concept to other EDIHs. In this way, we are also adding something to the European EDIH network with this cooperation," states Iuliana Nichersu. 

Ultimately, it is all about the impact for the entrepreneur. Robin Burghard, hub manager of EDIH BOOST Robotics EastNL; "With this cooperation, we are further building our European network and companies will soon benefit from this. The German, Belgian and Spanish markets are important for our target group and we would like to introduce them better. Thus, we plan to organise study visits back and forth."

The start of the cooperation was marked with a festive dinner, which was also joined by Mayor Offinga and aldermen Te Rietstap and Ten Cate of the municipality of Hardenberg, in the East Netherlands. Some 15 companies members of the IQ Boulevard in Hardenberg have already done a digital maturity assessment. This has resulted in company-specific advice on how to further digitalisation in the company, whereby they can make use of, for example, training courses offered by the EDIH. Also participating were representatives and members of VNO-NCW, the director of the robotics institute of the University of Twente Mr Bante and dhr. Xavier Vilalta, Head of Technology Skills, Government of Catalonia, responsible for the International Talent Program of the regional development agency ACCIÓ. The cooperation was established by the regional development agency Oost NL, responsible for the international relations of the EDIH Boost Robotics EastNL.

Interested? Contact one of the EDIHs

Baden-Wurttemberg : Iuliana Nichersu, EDIH AICS

EDIH-AICS | European Digital Innovation Hubs Network (europa.eu)

Catalonia: Sandra Perez, EDIH DIH4CAT         

Home - DIH4CAT, el Digital Innovation Hub de Catalunya

Flanders: Ger van den Kerkhof, EDIH Digitalis

DIGITALIS EDIH – European Digital Innovation Hub for Digital Manufacturing Support

East Netherlands: Robin Burghard, EDIH BOOST Robotics East Netherlands

EDIH BOOST Robotics East Netherlands | BOOST (boostsmartindustry.nl)