Recently, several EU conferences on the topic of establishment of regional digital innovation hubs were organized, such as the 8th European Innovation Summit held on 14-17 Nov, 2016 at European Parliament and Smart Regions with Smart robots conference held on 10 May, 2017 at Committee of the Regions.

“Strike the iron while it’s hot. The ball is in your camp, please actively get in touch with the stakeholders in your regions to develop your ecosystems, and contact the other regions to learn from them and team up with them” – said Cécile Huet, Deputy Head of the European Commission Robotics Unit to all new emerging robotic clusters and hubs across Europe.

Two key innovation-shaping institutions in Lithuania – Lithuanian Innovation Centre and Knowledge Economy Forum – in a partnership with Lithuanian Robotics Association, have taken on the challenge proposed by European Commission and have featured it as one of the key issues for debate during the  Innovation Summit Lithuania 2017, held on 17-18 May in Vilnius.

The Director of Lithuanian Innovation Centre dr. Mantas Vilys stressed the importance of measures aimed at development of the Digital Innovation Hubs. “Companies in Digital Innovation Hubs see broader international perspective and have access to the European

-wide knowledge on available technologies and innovation. Digital Innovation Hubs can also disseminate knowledge on market potential, its needs, market gaps, help academia to promote their knowledge, technological solutions, understand problems in the industry” ,- stated Mr. Vilys.

Tadas Langaitismember of Lithuanian Parliament and Chairman of the high technology, innovation and digital economy subcommittee under the Parliaments’ Economic Committee – has emphasized the importance of DIH’s on competitiveness of Lithuanian economy and expansion of Lithuania’s economic potential: “Lithuania is home to one of the EU’s most technology-literate populations and home to super-charged ICT infrastructure. We are becoming an increasingly favorable hub for technological start-ups to start and accelerate their business. Thus, in order to sustain and enhance our technological readiness, development of Digital Innovation Hubs is absolutely critical”.

Workshop on hubs and clusters in advanced manufacturing, organized by Open Coffee Club and Lithuanian Robotics Association have attracted a number of key stakeholders from 7 different European regions, which expressed their views and recommendations in regard to development of DIHs in Lithuania and EU in general.

Co-CEO at Blue Ocean Robotics John Erland Ostergaard noted that the success story in respect to cluster development is already visible in Lithuania, in regard to rapid development of the robotic cluster. “Under the I4MS initiative and the Reconcell project, we are acting as mentors for the Lithuanian robotic hub. We are positively impressed by the agility and ambitions of the Lithuanian robotic firms. They are quickly building around them a robotic community and promote cooperation culture. This can be a good example to other industries”

Chairman of Lithuanian Robotic Association Thomas-Solupajev Ronlev concluded that contributions from different regions have clearly helped Lithuanian robotic hub to see common opportunities and challenges in developing robotic hubs, and also will help to pick main focus areas where association needs to focus its efforts.

Participants of the workshop on hubs and clusters of the Inno Summit 2017 conference concluded their workshop with key recommendations for future development of hubs and clusters:

  1. Digital Innovation Hubs should for so-called “New Member States” be redefined according to the specific circumstances of these countries, with lower R&D intensity, on average smaller size of countries and industries and overall a lower absorptive capacity. The reliance on shared facilities in countries that are leaders in innovation have less significance in the “New Member States”. Digital Innovation Hubs in these countries are recommended to focus more on networking, awareness raising and business development for identifying new business cases for uptake of new digital technologies in new business cases.
  2. Governmental support measures aimed at development of the digital hubs should include measures to change the mindset of ecosystem players from competitive towards cooperative (creation of hubs and clusters, helping ecosystem players to identify value chains, enter international networks and integrate into European technological and strategic platforms, understand and use legal protection measures);
  3. Government support measures should help the industry to understand and formulate its needs for modernization and changes (i.e. technological audits, seminars and trainings) and facilitate experimentation in the industry by sharing the risk.
  4. National strategic platforms need to have a clear leadership of agile and disruptive companies. Platforms should avoid bureaucracy and inclusion of stagnating industry players that are resisting change.
  5. Further debate is needed on sharing good practices on how to protect intellectual property.  Market players need to have a better understanding of usage of patenting strategies and other IP protection measures.

Participants of the panel discussion also agreed that further debate on Digital Innovation Hubs shall concentrate on the aspects of measuring the performance of the DIHs and the selection of comparable KPIs (key performance indicators). Early stages KPIs can include factors such as number of international partnerships established, number of contacts and successful matchmakings made. In the case of more developed and mature DIHs, the KPIs should focus on increase in the share of exports, increase in R&D expenditures, increase in portfolio of products.

The Secretary-General of the euRobotics association, Reinhard Lafrenz, has praised Lithuania’s dynamic reaction to the initiatives also strongly promoted by euRobotics. “Lithuania is clearly demonstrating its commitment towards digitising the economy. The recommendations formulated in this workshop is a valuable contribution to euRobotics efforts of creating strong network of robotic hubs across all the Europe. I am also pleased to see that other EU members, such as Slovenia, are also getting on board and achieving substantial progress in development of digital hubs. This is very important for ensuring the EU-wide competitiveness of European businesses”.

The Innovation Summit Lithuania 2017 – high level innovation policy shaping event which took place on May 17-18 in Vilnius, Lithuania, and was supported by the Interreg Higher project. The event attracted more than 150 key stakeholders from business, public sector, academia and research institutions, and offered the participants an ideal platform to exchange the views on ways to foster cooperation between business and science, as well as to discuss strategies to stimulate private investments into innovations.

Workshop “The role of hubs and clusters in the area of advanced manufacturing” – section organized in the framework of Innovation Summit Lithuania 2017 by Open Coffee Club and Lithuanian Robotics Association, focused on the development of Digital Innovation Hubs and the challenges in respect to development of DIHs that smaller EU nations are facing. Supported by I4MS initiative and Reconcell project.