The DIH Champions Challenge 2020 looks for the most advanced Digital Innovation Hubs in Europe

Photo Credits: Octavian Rosca / Unsplash

The DIHNET.EU project has launched the second edition of the novel Digital Innovation Hub Champions Challenge. This challenge presents an innovative process for evaluating the maturity level of Digital Innovation Hubs (DIHs) according to specific parameters selected by the DIHNET consortium in collaboration with the European Commission. Fourteen DIHs qualified to participate in the first challenge, and the prize was awarded to the Digital Hub Logistics Dortmund at the Stakeholder Forum 2019 in Madrid.

After a successful first edition, the EU-funded project has opened the call for the DIH Champions Challenge 2020. Fully operative Digital Innovation Hubs based in Europe can submit their application until the 21st September 2020. The DIH Champion prize will be awarded during the virtual EDIH networking event that will take place in November 2020.

“As the winner of the 2019 DIH Champions Challenge it was a privilege for Digital Hub Logistics Dortmund to share and discuss its experiences on the DIH service portfolio with other renowned experts during the 2019 Stakeholder Forum. The participation increased the European and international network of Digital Hub Logistics and supported our own benchmarking activities. We are happy that we could underline and demonstrate the growing importance of logistics as a horizontal and enabling discipline for the manufacturing, production, trade and service industry and thus, for the competitive digital future of European industry.”

Thorsten Huelsmann, Digital Hub Logistics Dortmund

What is the DIH Champion Challenge?

The DIHNET.EU project, with the support of the European Commission, developed the Champions Challenge with the objective to provide the DIHs community with a process for identifying good practices of mature DIHs, fostering future matchmaking opportunities among DIHs, and contributing to update the information in the Joint Research Centre (JRC) catalogue of Digital Innovation Hubs.

The Champions Challenge assesses the maturity of Digital Innovation Hubs in two collaboration categories which are key for measuring a DIH’s performance. The first one is the services offered by the DIH to support the digitalisation of SMEs in topics such as ecosystem building, financing, testing and digital skills development. The second one, the collaboration strategy, describes the cross-border technology transfer opportunities or joint investments of DIHs due to structured and sustainable collaborations. These types of collaborations include mechanisms such as business models, impact KPIs, funding, etc. and the alignment with the Smart Specialisation Strategy (S3) priorities. Therefore, a hub that performs well in any of the two categories can be considered an example of good practices for the DIH community.

How are DIHs assessed?

For shortlisting the most advanced Digital Innovation Hubs, the challenge assesses the maturity of DIHs via an online questionnaire which is linked to specific Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Begoña Sanchez, Innovation Systems and Policies manager at Tecnalia, and member of the DIHNET consortium explains that “when selecting the KPIs, we [the DIHNET consortium] made a proposal based on the most relevant strategies and documentation available, including the Catalogue of DIHs. We discussed it with the European Commission, and we all agreed on the final set of KPIs”. For this edition, the DIHNET consortium has revised the questionnaire with the contribution of Thorsten Huelsmann, manager of the Digital Hub Logistics Dortmund. The 2020 challenge includes new KPIs on the subject of COVID-19, data management, and DIH governance.

“The EU-wide Champions Challenge is a benchmark for all DIH. The competition identifies the best-in-class hubs who can be a role model and incentive for others. Last year, the Digital Hub Logistics in Dortmund won the challenge. I am already curious to know who the winner will be this year.”

Matthias Kuom, European Commission

Are you the next DIH Champion?

Any full-operative Digital Innovation Hub that is part of the Catalogue and legally established in one of the eligible countries can participate in the DIH Champions Challenge. The winners will benefit, among other things, from the prestige and visibility that brings being a recognised example of good practice in the European DIH community. This year the novel EDIH networking event will host the DIH Champion awards ceremony in November 2020. The virtual event will gather Digital Innovation Hubs, designated EDIHs, regions and Member States, and various representatives of EEN, Clusters, SME associations, public sector organisations and vocational training institutes, among other stakeholders.

For support in the application process, there is available a “Guide for Applicants 2020” and a space for questions and answers in the DIHNET community platform, “Q&A DIH Champions Challenge 2020”.

Digital Innovation Hubs have time until the 21st of September 2020 at 13:00h CEST to submit their application and become a source of inspiration and guidance for other DIHs.

Please check regularly the DIHNET community platform and the DIH Champion Challenge page for the latest information.