In 2021, the European Commission launched Digital Europe, a programme to boost the digitalization of businesses, citizens and public administration that counts with more than €7 billion funding and will extend until the end of 2027. The funding will be distributed among different thematic calls aligned with European priorities. SMEs will especially benefit from it as the programme will provide them with fast and simple access to world-class testing facilities, rich networks of stakeholders and potential customers.
What exactly is the Digital Europe Programme?
Digital Europe aims to connect digital technology research with market deployment to promote a further digitalization in all sectors, with a focus on five key areas: supercomputing, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, advanced digital skills, and the use of digital technologies across the economy and society.
With a total budget worth €7.5 billion for six years, Digital Europe aims at boosting the economic recovery and promoting the digital transformation of Europe’s society and economy, benefiting citizens and companies. This funding will complement 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.
Funding and calls
The third set of calls has recently been opened by the Commission under the 2021-2022 Work Programmes.
A total budget of €170 million will be invested in the third call in data spaces (€50 million), AI (€28 million), cloud-to-edge infrastructure (€40 million), and advanced digital technologies (€52 million). Businesses, public administration and other entities from the EU Member States, EFTA/EEA countries, and associated countries can apply for the calls, which will remain open until January 24, 2023. In addition, a budget of €200 million will be allocated for the European Digital Innovation Hubs, which are points of support located all around Europe that help, advice and train start-ups, SMEs and the public sector to achieve a digital transformation. The deadline for this call will close on November 16, 2022.
Three calls have been opened for the moment: the first one opened in Q4-2021, the second one in Q1-2022 and the third one in Q3-2022. However, only the outcome of the first call has been recently announced (in Q3-2022), but results of the second call are expected to be announced soon (in Q4-2022).
In this first call, a total of 35 projects has been funded, which belonged to four different streams: 1) Smart communication components, systems and networks for 5G mid-term Evolution systems (seven funded projects), 2) Research for revolutionary technology advancement towards 6G (19 funded projects), 3) SNS experimental infrastructures (three funded projects), 4) Large-Scale SNS Trials and Pilots (six funded projects).
Within the first stream, some of the funded projects include BeGREEN, 5G-STARDUST, or SEASON; within the second one some projects are EINSTEIN6G, ADROIT6G, or DESIRE6G. The third stream includes 6G-SANDBOX, 6G-BRICKS, 6G-XR and the fourth one includes TARGET-X, TrialsNet, FIDAL.
Benefits of applying for this programme
Digitalization is critical for European economic competitiveness and technological autonomy. The fact that Europe is committed to support digitalization is very good news especially for technological startups and SMEs, due to its proven great impact on business productivity.
In order to apply for the programme, SMEs and startups belonging to any EU Member States as well as other countries associated to Digital Europe must submit a proposal through their EU login account. They can use the portal to find partners.