Digital Europe & the Digital Decade

The last two days (1/2 June 2021) saw the launch of the EU’s strategy “Leading the Digital Decade” with the Digital Europe funding programme (in short DIGITAL) at its core.

The Digital Europe Programme will provide funding for projects in five areas

  1. Supercomputing/HPC (total dedicated budget over the 7 years: 2.26 BEUR)
  2. Artificial intelligence, sectoral data spaces, digital innovation hubs etc. (2 BEUR)
  3. Cybersecurity (1.6 BEUR)
  4. Advanced digital skills (577 MEUR)
  5. Use/deployment of digital technologies across the economy and society (1 BEUR)

The programme is not a mere technology or business programme but encompasses all actors in the digital economy and society. Main emphasis is put on “greener and more digital transformations” for the benefit of citizens and businesses alike, not forgetting the public sector, smart cities and regions, and academia & research on which results from research projects this market-near programme may/will build.

Alas, at the time of the launch, neither Work Programmes nor Calls were ready. But some programme features were provided:

Sectorial priority topics for 2021/2022 “sectorial data spaces”: Health, mobility, agri-food, manufacturing

The AI on demand platform: this one-stop-shop for AI solutions and AI market place will be part of Call 2 end of 2021

Project types: There will be a variety of project types throughout DIGITAL that will be specified in the Calls, amongst them: CSAs (100% funding); SME support (75% for SME, 50% for others); Third party support (cascading funds); simple grant projects (50% funding); and procurement. All between one and several partners, depending on the topic and Call.

Who can participate?
Any legal entity in the EU Member States and countries associated with the programme (not yet final which they are). For topics critical to security and that “strengthen de European strategic autonomy”, legal entities must be controlled by entities based in the EU.

Funding rate: between 50% and 100%, depending on topic/project type.

How will proposals be submitted?
All via the “Funding & Tender Opportunities Portal

How will proposals be evaluated?
As for R&D&I proposals, by 3 independent experts. Criteria are:

RELEVANCE: How does the proposal contribute to objectives (as set forth in the Call), EU strategies, supply chain reinforcement, and how to overcome potential financial obstacles.

IMPLEMENTATION: How mature is the proposed solution? Are the partners capable of carrying it out? Work planning.

IMPACT: What will be the achievements? How is communication and dissemination planned? What are the contributions to society? How is environmental sustainability addressed?

It was emphasised that the programme is for all, bringing together digital providers and digital users.

More information: https://digital-strategy.ec.europa.eu/en/activities/digital-programme

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