Digital Innovation Hubs: three new S+T+ARTS projects coming off the ground

Digital Innovation Hubs: three new S+T+ARTS projects coming off the ground

July 26, 2020

For Europe to remain competitive internationally, all economic sectors must be able to reap the benefits of digital transformation. Building on a European network of Digital Innovation Hubs, the Commission aims to help companies improve their processes, products and services through the use of digital technologies.

Only about 1 out of 5 companies across the EU are highly digitalised. Similarly, around 60% of large industries and more than 90% of SMEs lag behind in digital innovation. The digital revolution brings opportunities for big and small companies, but many of them still find it difficult to know in which technologies to invest and how to secure financing for their digital transformation. Within this context, Digital Innovation Hubs (DIHs) can help ensure that every company, small or large, high-tech or not, can take advantage of digital opportunities. DIHs are one-stop shops that help companies become more competitive with regard to their business/production processes, products or services using digital technologies. DIHs provide access to technical expertise and experimentation, so that companies can “test before invest”. They also provide innovation services, such as financing advice, training and skills development that are needed for a successful digital transformation.

The EU proposed Digital Innovation Hubs as a key priority in the Digitising European Industry Initiative, adopted in April 2016. In particular, the Commission has been supporting digital transformation experiments and networking ofDIHs with around EUR 100 million per year through Horizon 2020 projects. These projects typically cascade funding through open calls by engaging SMEs in innovative experiments withDIHs in a cross-border context.

For more information on Digital Innovation Hubs across Europe, calls, policies and funded projects, click here.

DG Connect, through the S+T+ARTS initiative, has recently funded three new projects, to be launched during summer.

We are very glad to welcome more projects in the S+T+ARTS ecosystem, to tackle hot topics such as the insertion of artistic point of view in  manufacturing, AI and media.

Here is a sneak peek of Better Factory, Media Futures and Vojext:

Better Factory:

The objective of Better Factory (Grow your manufacturing business) project is to enable European Manufacturing SMEs to grow their manufacturing business by producing new and personalized products. On one hand, the Better Factory will bring artists from the S+T+Arts network together with Manufacturing SMEs. Artists will analyse the deep knowledge within the Manufacturing SMEs and support them in diversifying their product portfolio to meet new market demands. At the same time, Better Factory will provide state-of-the-art technology for SMEs to maximize their production capacity, so that new and personalized products can be produced alongside existing products within the same production resources. Within its lifetime, Better Factory will select 16 Manufacturing SMEs and will provide full financial, artistic, technical and business support to transform their business. These 16 success stories will be disseminated among the Manufacturing SMEs across the Europe and they will be invited to exploit the S+T+Arts network and technology to grow their manufacturing business.

Media Futures:

MediaFutures, Data-driven innovation hub for the media value chain 

MediaFutures will set up a virtual, European data innovation hub, including funding, mentoring and support for entrepreneurial and creative projects to reshape the media value chain through responsible, innovative uses of data.

We will:

  • explore the critical factors that impact how people engage with bottom-up quality journalism, science education and digital citizenship;
  • define a participatory, inclusive innovation programme, leveraging impulses from multiple disciplines, as well as synergies between entrepreneurs and creatives;
  • organise a competition addressing pressing technical, economic and societal challenges in the media value chain to identify promising digital entrepreneurs, creatives and data-empowered solutions;
  • provide data and experimentation facilities for the winners of this competition to test and nurture their ideas;
  • support 51 businesses and 43 artists by solving common concerns around funding and access to mentoring in technical, legal, business, media and sustainability matters; and
  • create toolkits and best practices for innovators, creatives, and other stakeholders to achieve greater traction for their citizen-centric initiatives, and empower them to communicate through data in inspiring, informative and engaging ways.

Drawing on the experience of the consortium – ZABALA, ODI and SOTON (instrumental to delivering several flagship Horizon 2020 data incubators); IRCAM (leading the way in publicly funded art-tech-science residencies programmes); EUT and LUH (2 accomplished DIHs and BDVA i-Spaces); NMA (Europe’s largest media accelerator); LUISS (renowned school of journalism and digital startup accelerator); KU Leuven (legal and ethical expert) and DEN (one of Europe’s social innovation pioneers) – we will establish a Europe-wide, virtual data-driven innovation ecosystem, supported and promoted by an international network of 28 organisations that have confirmed their intention to join MediaFutures as members of our stakeholder cluster.

Mediafutures will open its first call for proposal to support  projects presented by creatives and entrepreneurs before the end of year.


The VOJEXT project aims at providing a favourable business and technological framework to enable matchmaking and encourage producers and adopters (mainly SMEs including small crafters) of Cognitive autonomous systems for human-robot interaction, specially “cobots”, dynamizing science-driven industry approaches for the European industry. For this purpose VOJEXT will design, develop, validate and demonstrate affordable, market-oriented, agile, multipurpose and easy-to-repurpose, autonomous, mobile and dexterous robotic systems as the main component of a smart, agile and scalable cognitive CPS for industry; under the vision of providing Value Of Joint EXperimenttion (VOJEXT) in digital technologies to manufacturing and construction industry; while having DIHs as drivers of innovation based economic development in Europe. 
VOJEXT will demonstrate its value by deploying the solution through a 42-months work plan scaling the project to at least 5 additional different markets; starting with 5 experimental pilots (and 9 SMEs) in the plastic textile, electronics, automotive, construction and creative architecture for urban regeneration, VOJEXT cover traditional and non-traditional areas for AI-robotics and cognitive ICT developments; aiming to extend to 15 experimental pilots, integrating 20 more SMEs through open calls. The open calls will foster scientific and business driven innovation together Digital Innovation Hubs led by UPM-AIR4S (Spain), together with other 3 DIHs – Fortiss (Germany), PIAP (Poland) and EMC2 (France). These Open Calls will gather the most innovative SMEs, that will bring new challenges into project’s pilots and propose alternative scenarios. Moreover, the project will carry out with 2 S+T+ARTS residencies, that will allow artists stimulate the creation of new product in different contexts and support creative craft experimental pilots in Italy. DIHs will create a new niched oriented offering based on VOJEXT technical areas and for crafting sector.

More information about the projects, their partners and activities soon!