Five focus points for the European Commission's €9.2bn 'Digital Europe' programme

By Johan De Mulder

Earlier this month, the European Commission revealed its intention to invest €9.2bn to transform digital capacity on the continent.

Following on from the implementation of its Digital Single Market strategy, 'Digital Europe' is the Commission's new programme to ensure Europe doesn't get left behind during the so-called 'Fourth Industrial Revolution', with budget now ringfenced to drive a host of initiatives between 2021 and 2027.

Here Business Chief details the five key areas that have been selected for investment:

The EU believes investment in supercomputers will help it advance in many areas from healthcare and renewable energy to car safety and cybersecurity. €2.7bn will fund projects to strengthen supercomputing and data processing in Europe, which is crucial for the development in these areas.

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Digital Europe will aim to deploy a world-class supercomputer and data infrastructure with exascale capabilities (a billion billion or 1018 calculations per second) by 2022/2023, and post exascale facilities by 2026/2027.

Artificial intelligence (AI)
Back in April, the EU promised to both boost investment and create ethical guidelines around the deployment of artificial intelligence and its plans as part of 'Digital Europe' reinforce that work.

€2.5bn is planned to help spread AI across the European economy and society, giving better access for public authorities and businesses, especially small ones, to AI testing and experimentation facilities. while open platforms and access to industrial data spaces for AI will be made available across the EU in 'Digital Innovation Hubs'.

Cyber security and trust
€2bn will be invested into safeguarding the EU's digital economy, society and democracies through boosting cyber defence and the EU's cybersecurity industry, financing state-of-the-art cybersecurity equipment and infrastructure as well as supporting the development of the necessary skills and knowledge.

Digital skills
Digital Innovation Hubs will carry out targeted programmes to help small and medium-sized enterprises and public administrations to equip their personnel with the needed advanced skills. Around €700mn will be invested by the Commission in this area.

€1.3bn will ensure the digital transformation of public administration and public services and their EU-wide interoperability and facilitate access to technology and knowhow for all businesses, notably SMEs.

Digital Innovation Hubs will be 'one-stop shops' for small and medium-sized enterprises and public administrations, providing access to technological expertise and experimentation facilities, as well as advice to better assess the business case of digital transformation projects.


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