The IoT Digital Innovation Hub (IoT DIH) led by the AIR Institute and the Digital Innovation Hub Industry 4. 0 (DIHBU), based in Burgos, and are two of the most experienced and consolidated digital innovation centres in Castilla y León. They have joined forces with the recently created DIH-LEAF, Digital Innovation Hub on Livestock, Environment, Agriculture and Forest, the SCAYLE Supercomputing Centre and the University of León (UNILEON), to submit an integrated proposal, led by the Institute for Business Competitiveness (ICE), to apply for funding as a European Centre for Digital Innovation.

This consortium, called DIGIS3, obtained last month the official approval from the Ministry as one of the Spanish candidates to become an EDIH (European Digital Innovation Hub), with the express support of the Junta de Castilla y León.

Some 40 applications will be officially sent from Spain; of which it is estimated that a maximum of 17 may be approved to operate in Spain as EDIHs funded by the European Commission.  The European call is expected to be published in May 2021 and will force the national candidates to compete not only with each other in terms of excellence, but also with the rest of the candidates from all over Europe.

The DIGIS3 consortium is the largest and most complete digital innovation hub in the region. Currently, its technical teams are working very hard on drafting the best possible proposal for Europe, bringing together the lines of action of its members, uniting its network of technological infrastructures, and preparing a common and homogeneous charter of services to be provided, on a non-profit basis, in digitisation and Industry 4. 0, which will also count on the specific collaboration of the best business associations operating in this field, the clusters with the greatest capacity, and the network of technology and innovation centres in the region. 

The consortium has offered the rest of the regional candidates the opportunity to join DIGIS3, which it will keep open at all times, and is also preparing valuable alliances with other EDIH candidates in Spain, and also outside of Spain, in territories that are similar to Castilla y León, to complement and enrich its offer.

The strength of DIGIS3 in the European call is based, firstly, on the experience and solvency of two of the integrated Digital Innovation Hubs (DIH), which already have numerous European accreditations (IOT DIH and DIHBU), and years of experience as fully operational DIHs. With the integration of a third Digital Innovation Hub, DIH-LEAF, which has significant business and institutional backing in the primary sector, the regional digitalisation hub is a strong candidate for EDIH with three specialised DIH nodes in the territory.

The second strength of the consortium are its demand-oriented digitalisation solutions, both industrial and non-industrial, an aspect in which it has extensive knowledge and is aligned with the priority sectors and lines in accordance with the RIS3 (Smart Specialisation Strategy) of Castilla y León. 

In this regard, DIHBU and DIH LEAF will primarily cover the services needed by the industry (automotive, food, biochemical, manufacturing sector), the former from a horizontal perspective, focusing on the already developed sustainable Industry 4.0 technologies; the latter from a vertical perspective, covering the entire value chain in primary production environments and rural territories.   Given the high business component of both organisations, at the level of both receiving industry and technology suppliers (ICT, process engineering and robotics) and the intermediate agents, knowledge of the real demand for the solutions and needs of each sector is guaranteed.

Air Institute and SCAYLE will cover the regional demand in those digitisation solutions that require greater prior technological development and strong connections with unique scientific facilities, applying, among other technologies, IoT, Artificial Intelligence and Supercomputing.  Their work will also complement the technological offer required by the emerging sectors in our region, in accordance with the guidelines defined in the Recovery and Resilience Plans.

The University of León will participate as an expert partner in supervision, control and automation of industrial processes and critical infrastructures as well as in Industry 4.0, Internet of Things, Data Science, Artificial Intelligence, Computer Vision, Robotics, Additive Manufacturing and Aerospace Technology. It will also offer SMEs and public administrations a range of training, consultancy, testing and experimentation services in the fields of smart agro and smart territories.

The ICE, as coordinator and leader of the consortium, will provide all its structure for the integration and homogenisation of the services to be provided, its co-financing capacity, its synergy with other European networks of which it forms part (such as the EEN-Enterprise Europe Network), as well as ensuring territorial capillarity, with the aim of making DIGIS3 services (including training and talent retention services), available on equal terms to any SME in the region.

The idea is not only for the benefit of regional SMEs, but also to promote our excellence in development and digitalisation applications in the rest of Europe, an ability that is well established in our industrial environment, but little known abroad. By doing so, it will highlight the capacity of our companies and knowledge centres to provide advanced services to any other national or European territory.

Lastly, the consortium will also provide the public administrations of Castilla y León (city councils, provincial councils…) with support services for their digitalisation, including the analysis of available technological solutions, their sustainability, adaptation to real needs, reduction of bureaucracy, and improvement of digital services for the benefit of citizens and SMEs, as well as guidance in Innovative Public Procurement procedures, and the effective implementation of intelligent and rationalised systems for sustainable tourism, energy generation, support networks for depopulation, and green mobility.

The aim is to optimise all existing resources at the regional level towards a common target: the sustainable, intelligent, cohesive and secure digitalisation of both Castilian-Leonese SMEs and the corresponding public administration, based on an integrated proposal, with the support of Europe.

More information on the European Digital Innovation Centres

The European Network of Digital Innovation Centres will play a key role in the development of the Digital Europe 2021-2027 programme, through which 9.2 billion euros will be allocated across the European Union.

The application procedure for Digital Innovation Centres from Spain was initiated through an Expression of Interest (EOI) call launched by the Ministry of Industry.