How to use EU funds in your business context? You can make the difference!
From connectivity and digital skills to public services, EU countries have made progress since last year which marked the launch of the Digital Single Market Strategy by the European Commission. Yes, the EU is progressing, but slowly.
According to the Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI) there are more public services online, but they are under-used. Indicators show that public administrations are providing a wider range of services online (allowing people to use the internet to inform about a new residence, the birth of a child and other important events). However, the number of internet users interacting with their administration online is not increasing (32%).
In order to encourage further progress, the European Commission offers public authorities and companies doing business with them different series of EU funding programmes :
Under Horizon 2020, the Commission will co-fund groups of procurers to undertake joint PPI procurements in order to have a single joint PPI call for tender and a single joint evaluation of offers. This can speed up the development of innovative solutions by encouraging cooperation between procurers from across Europe, either by supporting networks of procurers (to prepare joint PPIs) or by co-funding the initial call for tender, the related coordination, and the networking activities.
The Procurement of Innovation Platform, supported by the European Commission, works as a hub for information regarding innovation procurement. It contains information on upcoming calls, events, and a forum where international stakeholders can share and discuss ideas.
The ISA² programme supports the development of interoperable digital solutions, which will be available to all interested public administrations in Europe. By using ISA² solutions, administrations can ensure interoperability between different IT systems responsible for the delivery of electronic services, thereby ensuring seamless electronic cross-border or cross-sector interaction between public administrations, businesses and citizens. The main beneficiaries of ISA² are public administrators at EU, national, regional and local level (direct beneficiaries), as well as citizens and businesses (indirect beneficiaries). All the years of work on interoperability, eGovernment and open data should now have the potential to unleash unprecedented speed, efficiency and quality in the delivery of public services. The European Commission wants tospeed up the process of development of a European ecosystem of public administrations, and in that context the Connecting Europe facility has some money to offer (€32 million) for the operational aspects. Deadline is 19th of May and it aims to make cross-border Digital Public Services a reality.
Once the interoperability of the digital solutions is developed, only the actual market implementation is left. ICT investments are part of the European Structural and Investments Funds’ (ESI Funds) key investment areas to enhance growth in the regions. Approximately EUR 21.4 billion from the ESI Funds is available for ICT investments over the 2014-2020 funding period; Each Member State has put together a 7 years programme to develop their own national public sector digitalization. Some countries are early adopters, some others are lagging behind, but they will all need to consider the innovation and development coming from Brussels in order to come up with a long term sustainable solution compatible with what others are doing in the EU. Maybe your solution can be the one.
If you are an ICT industry player looking for leverage in your daily work with public sector customers, understanding how these EU funds work, will certainly make a difference. Becoming a knowledge-partner can make the difference.