The Digital Europe programme will fund projects dedicated to bringing together digital technologies, citizens, businesses and public administrations. What is already known about this programme? 

Digital Europe programme: "Shaping Europe's future

This is how the European Commission presents the impact of its latest initiative - the Digital Europe Programme. The new programme aims at the acceleration and digital transformation of industry and public administration, for the benefit of citizens, companies and the state. For this reason, this initiative is framed within the EU funding framework 2021-2027, working in conjunction with programmes such as Horizon Europe or the Connecting Europe Facility.

In total, the programme has a budget of €7.6 billion and is also seen as a way to accelerate economic recovery and shape the digital transformation in European society and economy. Thanks to these projects, stresses the European Commission, everyone will benefit, with a special focus on small and medium-sized enterprises.

On May 11, the regulation establishing the financial framework for the programme was published in the Official Journal of the European Union, highlighting as general objectives and the promotion of "better exploitation of the industrial potential of policies of innovation, research and technological development".

Five interconnected areas

At a time when the Covid-19 pandemic has reinforced the importance of technology, the European Commission emphasises the relevance of Europe not being dependent on "systems or solutions imported from other regions of the world". In this sense, this digital programme will fund digital transformation proposals under five different areas:

  • supercomputing
  • artificial intelligence, data and the cloud
  • cybersecurity
  • advanced digital skills
  • promotion of the use of digital technologies

The regulation highlights that the five specific areas of action for the funded projects, although distinct, are interlinked since, for example, "Artificial Intelligence needs cybersecurity to be trustworthy". Thus, the different specific objectives should not be seen in isolation, but as a central part of a coherent whole.

In addition to its funding dimension, the programme also provides for the creation of an initial network of European Digital Innovation Hubs. These structures will be responsible for developing appropriate synergies with relevant actions funded by Horizon Europe or other research and innovation programmes. Thus, the European Digital Innovation Hubs aim to be facilitators, bringing together industries, businesses and public administrations in need of technological solutions.

High performance computing

The published regulation also provides some general guidelines on the various specific objectives of the programme. In the case of high-performance computing, the document highlights that these solutions should be used "more widely by industry and more generally in areas of public interest".

This will allow the unique opportunities offered by supercomputers to be exploited for society "in matters of health, environment and safety, as well as the competitiveness of the industrial sector, especially of SMEs". To this end, it is planned to "purchase high-end supercomputers" to ensure the operation of a high-performance computing system "in accordance with the Union's values and principles".

This dimension of the program reinforces the work carried out by the member states that signed the EuroHPC declaration. Under this commitment, over the last five years, this group of countries, which includes Portugal, has been setting up high-performance computing and cutting-edge data infrastructures, to be made available to the scientific community and public and private partners throughout the Union. A recent example was the installation of the Deucalion supercomputer at the Minho Advanced Computing Center (MACC), part of theNational Advanced Computing Network managed by FCCN.

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