Policy in Practice: The European Digital Strategy

The European Commission laid out an ambitious Digital Strategy to position Europe in the top league of global competition. With the European Data Strategy, the industrial and SME strategy, a white paper on artificial intelligence (AI) and several regulations in the making, the digital future of Europe is taking shape.

It has become a truism that we need a joint European approach in order to promote this European competitiveness in digital industries. At The 2nd RTO Innovation Summit we will provide the link from the strategic vision of the European Commission to demand-driven industrial applications.

Just a few examples of current RTO initiatives in digitalization include:

  • GAIA‑X Initiative: This large-scale project aims to strengthen the competitiveness of Europe’s economy by establishing a sustainable and innovative data infrastructure based on European values and security standards. With the recent signing of the GAIA-X AISBL incorporation papers, the GAIA‑X Initiative announced that it is one step closer to its goal of a trustworthy, sovereign digital infrastructure for Europe. The GAIA-X European data platform will utilize the most advanced AI instruments to enable the analysis and use of data within its framework.
    The following RTOs are part of the International Data Spaces Association (IDSA), which is one of GAIA-X AISBL’s founding members: CEA, Fraunhofer (*initiator of IDSA), imec, RISE, SINTEF, TECNALIA, TNO and VTT.
  • EPIdig-COVID Tracker: TECNALIA, has implemented, together with the company Ibermática, a pioneering system in Spain to stop the spread of COVID-19. EPIdig is the first contact tracing application that guarantees personal data privacy in fighting COVID-19 propagation. It uses mobile Bluetooth and guarantees privacy through cryptography and data decentralization, revealing no personal information to central servers. Since June, it has been available to more than 5000 users.
  • QUANTUM TECHNOLOGIES “MADE IN AUSTRIA”: AIT, Austria’s largest applied research organisation, is driving key initiatives to create a secure networked Europe. Over the past decade, AIT has established an excellent international reputation as a quantum technologies specialist and coordinator of major European projects. They include the highly-competitive European Quantum Flagship programme aimed at developing quantum technologies for the mass market (with projects like UNIQORN, CiVIQ and QUARTZ).

    Since September 2019, AIT has been running the first European pilot project in the European Quantum Communication Initiative (QCI) – the Open European Quantum Key Distribution Testbed (OPENQKD). Aimed at establishing a secure quantum communications network in Europe, the consortium is initiating a European ecosystem for quantum technology providers and application developers.

  • VTT Digitalization Tools: VTT helps companies overcome challenges to and reap benefits from digitalisation. For example, VTT uses a set of tools, such as its AI maturity and Robotic process automation deployment tools, to help identify how new technologies can be introduced in organisations. Further, VTT uses foresight radar to find radical innovations and give a roadmap to follow in digitalisation.
  • DIGIHALL: The List Institute, part of CEA Tech, and an industry cluster (SYSTEMATIC) lead a digital innovation hub (DIH) called DIGIHALL. It is one of the 30 DIHs selected for the AI DIH Network, and covers the following technology domains: AI, cyber-physical systems, cybersecurity, and robotics. The Hub is active in 38 industries across all sectors, with the following priority application areas: manufacturing, mobility, health, and security. DIGIHALL is linked to regional mechanisms providing digitalization and innovation support to SMEs. Since 2019, DIGIHALL hosts EIT Manufacturing’s headquarters. The hub is also very active in EU DIH networks. For example, it is the coordinator of RIMA and REACH projects and a partner of AgroBoFood and DIH HERO. As the specialised French DIH in Artificial Intelligence, DIGIHALL is a candidate to become a European Digital Innovation Hub.
  • RoboTT-Net: RTO’s network to support new business opportunities in Robotics. TECNALIA, in cooperation with other RTOs (DTI, FhG-IPA and MTC), provided business and technology-related support for industrial robotics ideas to 86 European companies with 63 vouchers. Such support consisted of consulting, investor communication and business plan development, including for the technical innovation needed (path-to-product or automation design) and the business case for product maturation or robot automation. And in a second step, 24 companies received further development support in the 8 pilots selected to bring to market.
  • Flemish AI DIH: In preparing for the call for European Digital Innovation Hubs (EDIH) in the upcoming EC Digital Europe Programme, imec has built a consortium for a Flemish AI DIH, submitted an EDIH proposal for the Flemish preselection and become a pioneer in the European AI DIH Network. The Flemish AI DIH will become a one-stop-shop for AI providers, companies and public sector representatives who want to experiment with or leverage AI technology. Services that will be offered include “test before invest”, skills and training provisions, support in finding investment, and innovation ecosystem and networking capabilities.


Attend the Summit for greater insight on the RTO and industry initiatives creating A Europe Fit for the Digital Age.