The digital transformation demo-case of the Efficient and Sustainable Manufacturing (ESM) Pilot has successfully launched the project AI REGIO, funded by Horizon 2020.
The aim of AI REGIO is to develop AI-related applications for SMEs by exploiting and enriching the cross-border network of so called regional Digital Innovation Hubs (DIHs), competence centers from which companies can access skills and facilities not available in their region. Addressing regional, cross-regional and pan-European digital transformation needs will ensure that the EU takes the lead in digital manufacturing, creating new opportunities for innovation and growth.
The project has identified three major gaps that currently hinder regional AI-driven DIHs from embracing the new digital reality and limit offerings for interested manufacturing SMEs:
- At policy level regional smart specialisation strategies for digital transformation in manufacturing are coordinated insufficiently and confine innovations from scaling-up to European and global marketplaces. AI REGIO will foster closer cooperation across European regions, EU and non-EU countries to make sure innovations can scale.
- At technological level, there are projects and initiatives, which run too independently from each other and miss the opportunity of benefiting from each other’s results. AI REGIO will integrate Digital Manufacturing Platforms from previous EU-funded projects and help integrate these into Digital Innovation Hubs offerings. These Digital Manufacturing Platforms will in turn benefit from present Digital Innovation Hubs services regarding their business and social impact challenges.
- At business level the current offerings of Digital Innovation Hubs are limited to Industry 4.0 applications focusing on e.g. machine-to-machine interaction, enhanced connectivity and big data analytics. They do not focus on AI-driven applications yet, that severely change the relationship between autonomous systems and humans. AI REGIO aims to close this gap by further enhancing the network of regional Digital Innovation Hubs and SMEs, which will jointly conduct 30 AI-driven application experiments.
The project has a total value of 8M€ and 160K€ will be distributed to SMEs outside the consortium through two waves of open calls that will be launched in 2021 and 2022 where SMEs can apply for funding.
More information will be published on the AI REGIO website in due time.