Aragón DIH

In August we are taking to the southern part or the EU, namely Spain and more specifically Aragón!

We met with Sergio Mayo (SM),Technology Advisor in Aragón DIH.

How did the story of your Digital Innovation Hub (DIH) get started?

SM: We started to work at the same time that the DIH concept was born in Europe. At ITAINNOVA (Instituto Tecnológico de Aragón), we started to launch this initiative counting on the main regional University (Universidad de Zaragoza) and the regional development agency (Instituto Aragonés de Fomento).
In 2019 we signed the agreement among the 3 founders, the main stakeholders in research, innovation and development policies in Aragon and, since then, we have sped up both in terms of activities and internal organization. Now, we’re more than 80 partners, with a very balanced type of members from different profiles, activities and sizes.

Could you describe your DIH ecosystem and its development policy?

SM: Our ecosystem has a broad and complementary set of members profiles: Business organizations, Social agents, Associations,Clusters, RTOs, Universities, SMEs, Mid caps & Big companies, Foundations and Public Administrations. This diversity enhances the amount of chances for collaboration, depending on the level of commitment and maturity of each member. Thanks to our working groups management model, we’ll be able to adapt needs, interests and growing speeds to each DIH member.

What specific services does your DIH offer?

SM: We offer a broad set of services in the 4 knowledge fields of our DIH: Cognitive Systems (IA), HPC, Logistics, Robotics and Smart Manufacturing. We’re offering services on those thechnologies and organized in the 4 type of services demanded for a DIH: Test before invest, Skills & Training, Innovation ecosystem and
networking and Support to find investment.
For instance, user profiling and sentiment analysis are both successful services in the field of Cognitive Systems. We’re offering cutting edge services for logistics, using smart manufacturing features (i.e digital twins) and robotics modules, taking advantage of HPC infrastructures. Thus, it’s clearly shown that our tech fields are absolutely complementary, being capable of merging technologies for creating cutting edge services. All our services are evolving in a regular basis, and can be checked in our website.

Can you provide a practical example of a case you supported?

SM: We’ve a number of success cases, some of them shown in our website.

What is your vision of DIHs development in Europe?

SM: We truly trust this initiative. Collaboration and specialization at regional level is a must for being able to establish fruitful alliances at European level. The EDIHs concept and the expected DTA support really hit this approach, and we think that this is a great path to become a competitive Europe in a Digital world.

What could be the added value of Pan-European collaboration?

SM: All these steps are leading us to formalise and normalise collaborations. This is a long but no return path: Started many years ago with FPs, regional collaborations programs, H2020, now DE and HE programs… each small step is leading us to establish permanent and fruitful alliances and collaboration frameworks beyond (but thanks to) these EU funding programs. I really compare it with ERASMUS programs for students: This is really creating a European mindset in all of us.

Did you receive any EU funds and, if so, how did you employ them?

SM: At present, we’re participating as partner DIH in 2 flagship EU projects: EUHUBS4DATA and DIGITBRAIN. Additionally, we’re members of a number of DIHs networks in the fields of interest of Aragón DIH. Focused as we’re in the data and AI knowledge fields, we actively participate in BDVA (DAIRO) and also has been awarded as iSpace GOLD label for our excellence and capabilities in data driven technologies.

Did the COVID pandemic affect you? In which way?

SM: This pandemic is driving us to believe in our capacity for creating digital services. It’s kind of a push to be aware that it is mandatory and possible to transform a huge set of models in digital ones.

Interview by Lucie Milcent, DIHNET