European centers for digital innovation: An interview with Giulia Carsaniga from the European Commission

Since October 2022, there has been a nationwide network of European Digital Innovation Hubs (EDIHs) in the European Union. This is part of the “Digital Europe” programme, which provides funding to tackle strategic digitalization challenges in Europe. Since mid-2023, 17 EDIHs have been active in Germany to support SMEs and public institutions on their digital journey. Giulia Carsaniga, Policy Officer at the European Commission’s Directorate General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology (CNECT), explains in an interview what goals the EU is pursuing with the EDIHs and why the EDIH is being funded in the Dortmund/Unna region.

Ms. Carsaniga, why is the European Commission supporting the establishment of EDIHs?
Giulia Carsaniga:
Our aim is to support the digital transformation of business and administration. So far, the hubs with their different competencies have been very successful in supporting SMEs in their respective regions. Now we want to network the individual hubs even more closely across Europe in order to strengthen the portfolio of expertise. EDIH-DO, for example, is strong in the areas of logistics and production as well as in technological topics. In other areas, other hubs can score points with their expertise and support SMEs. The network makes it possible to approach other partners, other EDIHs, and thus offer SMEs expertise in specific areas.

What exactly does the network support look like?
Giulia Carsaniga: The network facilitates the exchange of best practices between the German hubs and the provision of specialized services between the regions. For example, it is possible to travel with an SME to a specialized EDIH in another German region and use a test environment provided there. Similarly, experts from the EDIH can travel to Dortmund or another city in the region, for example, to provide SMEs with targeted support. This ultimately not only benefits the companies, but also strengthens cooperation between the individual EDIHs.

How do the EDIHs tie in with the predecessor program of the Digital Innovation Hub?
Giulia Carsaniga: There are many points of contact in terms of content – the EDIHs build on the predecessor program of the Digital Innovation Hubs. The consortium that forms the basis of the Dortmund EDIH has already proven in the past that it is very successful in networking. As part of the predecessor program Digital Innovation Hubs (DIH), the Digital Hub Logistics Dortmund was named the best hub in Europe in Madrid. This shows that we were active in the digitalization of SMEs at a very early stage and we are optimistic that this will be even more successful in the European network.

What do you wish EDIH-DO?
Giulia Carsaniga: I wish EDIH-DO every success and we are very happy to have the location as part of the network. I think the EDIH-DO is ideally positioned for this work and I am optimistic that we will continue to see this in the future. We hope that together we can drive forward the digitalization of the entire economy and public administration.