The Digital Europe Programme (DIGITAL) and European Digital Innovation Hubs (EDIH)
Official information sourcehttps://digital-strategy.ec.europa.eu/en/activities/digital-programme
The Digital Europe Programme (DIGITAL) is a new EU funding programme focused on bringing digital technology to businesses, citizens and public administrations.
How to make Europe greener and more digital are the twin challenges for our generation, and our success in meeting them will define our future.
The European Commission has begun to look at a greener Europe through the lens of the European Green Deal. At the same time, it is opening up discussions about the move to a more digital world: the digital transition.
Digital technology and infrastructure have a critical role in our private lives and business environments. We rely on them to communicate, work, advance science and answer current environmental problems. At the same time, the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted not only how much we rely on our technology to be available to us, but also how important it is for Europe not to be dependent on systems and solutions coming from other regions of the world. Paving the way for achieving this goal is DIGITAL programme.
The Digital Europe Programme will provide strategic funding to answer these challenges, supporting projects in five key capacity areas: in supercomputing, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, advanced digital skills, and ensuring a wide use of digital technologies across the economy and society, including through Digital Innovation Hubs. With a planned overall budget of €7.5 billion (in current prices), it aims to accelerate the economic recovery and shape the digital transformation of Europe’s society and economy, bringing benefits to everyone, but in particular to small and medium-sized enterprises.
The Digital Europe Programme will not address these challenges in isolation, but rather complement the funding available through other EU programmes, such as the Horizon Europe programme for research and innovation and the Connecting Europe Facility for digital infrastructure, the Recovery and Resilience Facility and the Structural funds, to name a few. It is a part of the next long-term EU budget, the Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-2027.
How to get funding under the Digital Europe programme
Learn about the work programmes, the calls for proposals and the application process for the Digital Europe Programme.
For the first two years, the Digital Europe programme will be implemented through four work programmes :
- For all actions excluding those implemented by the other three work programmes as indicated below - DIGITAL Europe Work Programme 2021-2022
- For the European Digital Innovation Hubs - DIGITAL Europe - EDIH Work Programme 2021-2023
- For Cybersecurity actions - DIGITAL Europe - Cybersecurity Work Programme 2021-2022
- For High Performance Computing actions – the work programme will be prepared by the EuroHPC Joint Undertaking
They provide you with information on the content of the calls for Grants and Procurement opened for proposals in 2021 and 2022.
The funding and tender opportunities web page gives you an overview of the calls for proposals (‘calls’) that are forthcoming or already open. Each call has its own call document, related to a particular topic. It gives more precise information on some of the issues that the European Commission would like you to address in the proposal.
The funding and tender opportunities web page hosts the services for managing your proposals and projects throughout their lifecycle.
The application process
Submit your proposal
If you wish to respond to a call, you must submit a proposal before 17:00 Brussels time on the day of the indicated call deadline. Please note that this deadline and specific time are strict and must be respected. The European Commission strongly advises to submit your proposal in good time and not to wait until the last moment.
All proposals need to be submitted online.
Find your partners
If you need help to identify a potential partner with particular competences, facilities or experience, use the partner search options.
Once the deadline has passed, all proposals are evaluated against the criteria published in the Work Programme, resulting in a list of proposals in priority order. Independent experts specialised in the relevant fields may be involved in the evaluation.
When the evaluation is over, applicants are informed on the outcome.
The European Commission will draw up a grant agreement with each of the successful participants within the limits of the allocated budget. The grant agreement describes the activities to be undertaken, in line with the objectives of the call, the project’s duration, budget, rates and costs, as well as the European Commission's contribution, the rights and obligations and other specificities linked to the topic covering the specific grant agreement.
The time frame for signing the grant agreements is up to 9 months from the closure of the call.
European Digital Innovation Hubs
European Digital Innovation Hubs (EDIHs) will function as one-stop shops that help companies dynamically respond to the digital challenges and become more competitive.
By providing access to technical expertise and experimentation as well as the possibility to “test before invest”, EDIHs help companies improve business/production processes, products, or services using digital technologies. They also provide innovation services, such as financing advice, training, and skills development that are needed for a successful digital transformation. Environmental issues are also taken into account, in particular with regard to energy consumption and low carbon emissions.
How will the EDIHs work?
European Digital Innovation Hubs will have both local and European functions. EU funding will be made available for hubs that are already (or will be) supported by their Member States (or regions), in order to increase the impact of public funding. The Digital Europe Programme will increase the capacities of the selected hubs to cover activities with a clear European added value, based on networking the hubs and promoting the transfer of expertise. Member States have an essential role in the selection process of the EDIHs; the initial network of EDIHs will be established from a list of hubs designated by the Member States.
The European Commission has developed a document (.pdf) that explains how the EDIH will be implemented in the Digital Europe Programme.
The Joint Research Centre of the European Commission has developed a practical handbook with good practices on investments in Digital Innovation Hubs. The handbook aims to support regional, national, and RIS3 (Regional Strategy for Research and Innovation for Smart Specialisation) Implementation policymakers.
Many European Digital Innovation Hubs (EDIH) will be based on existing clusters, or include organisations that are part of an EEN consortia. The SME Strategy also commits to expand Digital Innovation Hubs in connection with Startup Europe and the EEN and provide a seamless service within local and regional ecosystems. Access the guidance document (.pdf) to establish these collaborations.
Pre-selection process of European Digital Innovation Hubs
European Digital Innovation Hubs (EDIHs) are selected through a two-step process. First Member and Associated States preselect candidate entities, which will then be eligible to participate to a European call.
The outcome of the process at country level is available in a catalogue developed by the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission