Key Role for ERNACT network in new European Digital Innovation Hub

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Initiative to drive uptake of emerging digital technologies by SMEs and public sector announced for Irish Northern & Western region.
27 February 2023 - Data2Sustain  project
Irish Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Simon Coveney TD and Enterprise Ireland, have announced the establishment of the Data2Sustain European Digital Innovation Hub in Ireland's Northern & Western region.

The Data2Sustain consortium, led by the Atlantic Technological University (ATU), aims to deliver a comprehensive 3-year programme to ensure that the region's SMEs and public sector develop the capacity to introduce emerging digital technologies, such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Big Data, into their services, products, business processes and operations. The focus will be on implementation, capacity building, circular economy and sustainability.

The ERNACT network's role in the project is a dual one, focusing on the public sector and liaising with other European Digital Innovation Hubs across Europe.

ERNACT board Chairperson and Derry City and Strabane District Council Councillor Martin Reilly commented on the news saying, “the establishment of the Data2Sustain EDIH is a very welcome development for our region to accelerate digitalisation across business and the public sector. I am extremely glad that ERNACT is able to make an important contribution in the partnership as an enabler for digital innovation of public organisations.”

In addition, the ERNACT Network Chairperson, Jorge Muyo, remarked  that “this is exciting news for the ERNACT network of regions and cities. We are very happy to be involved and look forward to building a strong digital innovation ecosystem regionally, and with other EDIH’s across Europe”.

ERNACT Programme Manager Dr Margaret Quinn explained that Data2Sustain is a consortium of organisations from the Northern and Western region of Ireland with complimentary expertise which are working together to drive advanced digitalisation across the public and private sector. The consortium comprises of:
  • Technological Competence Centres (University of Galway, Atlantic Technological University - features three Technology Gateways (Wisar Lab, Precision Engineering Manufacturing (PEM) and Medical & Engineering Technology (MET), as well as two Science Foundation Ireland Research centres - Insight Centre for Data Analytics and Irish Centre for High-End Computing (ICHEC); 
  • Business support and development organisations (Údarás na Gaeltachta, Local Enterprise Office - Mayo representing a network of eight LEOs across the region and WestBIC, with extensive experience in provision of access to finance and innovation services); 
  • Organisations and public institutions in charge of local / regional planning, economic development, and investment (Western Development Commission and Northern and Western Regional Assembly).
  • ERNACT, a European networked partner with extensive experience in digital innovation in public organisations.
"ERNACT’s role is dual, we will work with public sector organisations to develop their capacity and skills for digital transformation and identify specific innovation opportunities and also, to network with the European wide network of EDIH’s for any expertise gaps that are identified", Margaret added.

More about European Digital Innovation Hubs
Funding for European Digital Innovation Hubs (EDIHs) are being provided from a combination of the EU's Digital Europe (DIGITAL) and Member State's National Recovery and Resilience programmes.

Digital Europe provides strategic funding to support projects in five key disruptive technology capacity areas: Supercomputing, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Cybersecurity, Advanced digital skills and Digital Innovation Hubs. As part of this programme, a whole European network of connected EDIHs is being established to support businesses and organisations in their digital transformation and to disseminate the latest advances in disruptive digital technologies.

The EDIHs will be 'one-stop-shops' with a research performing organisation (RPO) or higher education institution (HEI) based lab at the core, to help companies (notably SMEs) and public sector organisations become more competitive in their business and/or production processes, products or services by providing access to digital research infrastructure, technical expertise and experimentation in order that these organisations can test before invest.

The EDIHs will also be co-funded by Member States and will also provide other innovation services, such as financing advice, and the training and skills development necessary for a successful digital transformation. Environmental issues will be championed, in particular with regard to energy consumption and low-carbon emissions. 

Ireland is expected to receive more than €900 million in grants over the lifetime of the the National Recovery and Resilience Plan (NRRP), co-developed by the Government and EU.

Click here to email  Ianire Renobales at ERNACT for further information

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