Six partners join EDIH giving Hamburg competitive edge

24 July 2023
European Digital Innovation Hubs offering low-threshold support for digital transformation

The pandemic has led to far more digital transformation and less unease among users. However, digitization means different things to various companies. Thus, finding the right approach is not easy. SMEs frequently face entirely different challenges than larger companies, and public authorities focus on other issues. Enter the EU-funded European Digital Innovation Hubs (EDIH) which is creating a growing network of digital innovation hubs across Europe as part of the "Digital Europe" scheme. "A budget of EUR 7.5 billion has been set aside to drive economic recovery and shape the digital transformation of European society and the economy, which benefits everyone and especially SMEs," according to the European Commission. More than 130 hubs including one in Hamburg have joined the network of excellence so far.

Hamburg predestined as EDIH location

EDIH Hamburg was launched in December 2022 with the Artificial Intelligence Center Hamburg (ARIC), HITeC (Research and Technology Transfer Center of the Department of Computer Science at the University of Hamburg), HAW Hamburg, Hamburg University of Technology, Digital Hub Logistics Hamburg, the Chamber of Crafts, the Chamber of Commerce and the Innovations Kontaktstelle Hamburg. "It is proven practice to drive innovation jointly in the Hamburg Metrpolitan Region."

"Moreover, Hamburg is predestined as an EDIH location given its strong scientific and industrial history," said Lars Hofferbert, AI Project Manager at ARIC. The European Excellence Initiative combines the advantages of a regional branch with the opportunities of a pan-European network. Setting up and supporting a transnational innovation and technology ecosystem is among the pillars of EDIH's strategy. 


Lars Hofferbert, AI Project Manager at ARIC

Uncomplicated support

EDIH Hamburg provides support on general digitalisation topics e.g., cybersecurity, high-performance computing and the use of artificial intelligence (AI). "Digitisation strategies are developed and even joint prototypes are built with the companies in this way. Crucially, companies and administrations are helped in an uncomplicated manner," said Hofferbert. AI is on everyone's lips nowadays thanks to Chat GPT which is a top priority for EDIH as well. Companies are assessing the many opportunities of AI, which is being used successfully in large firms. The  technology also holds several advantages for SMEs, for instance, process automation or the efficient use of data and for content creation. "We see AI as an opportunity to support people and not to make them redundant," he stressed. 

Responsible AI increasingly relevant

However, it is important to deal with AI responsibly. "In view of all the technological possibilities, ethical questions must be at the heart of considerations from the very beginning. Thus, the issue of responsible AI is becoming increasingly important. In our opinion, companies that take data protection or ethical components into account from the outset when developing AI applications can gain a competitive edge," said Hofferbert.

Getting started without fear of contact

"Many companies still shy away from the investment costs because they are not convinced that they make sense," Hofferbert pointed out. "Thus, EDIH offers 'Test before Invest' possibilities before a project starts. The point is to get started without fear of contact." The six partners involved also offer so-called "Support to Find Invest" as well as building and networking within the "Innovation Ecosystem" and knowledge transfer (Skills & Training). " Interested companies can contact us at any time without obligation," Hofferbert said.

Sources and further information

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