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Why are Industry Digitalization Initiatives Often Unsuccessful?

Countries can learn from each other in promoting ICT uptake in SME.

On the 19th of June, an online policy seminar “Industry digitalization – the BSR experience II” was organized as part of the DIGINNO project.

The event was organized by Aalborg University Copenhagen in cooperation with the Estonian Association of Information Technology and Telecommunication (ITL). It was a follow-up event for an industry digitalization seminar, „Industry digitalization – the Baltic Sea Region experience“, which took place in November 2019 in Berlin.

The seminar aimed to discuss, clarify, and qualify policy proposals by the DIGINNO project by addressing policy issues regarding uptake and use of digital technologies to improve business performance in the Baltic Sea Region. This will enable the project to take the next steps: put together common BSR vision and messages in a collaborative way.

The Baltic Sea Region countries – like the EU countries - share challenges regarding the digitalization of SMEs, for example, lack of awareness and lack of ICT specialists. Also, national policies do not necessarily always have the expected impact. EU has expressed that the benefits of knowledge exchange in this area are not sufficiently realized. This confirms the added value of initiatives like DIGINNO.

The seminar discussed policy findings of a “Business needs assessment” that – based on surveys and interviews among companies - has identified key enablers and obstacles for increased ICT uptake in SMEs. The main topics addressed were challenges related to regulation, digital awareness raising, financial instruments, and access to the workforce.

DIGINNO partners and invited guests from the policy and business field participated in a group work discussion, which focused on how policy initiatives can successfully promote the implementation of ICT’s in SMEs and how transnational learning/joint policy action can support this development.

Examples from the discussion:

  • Regulation should be an enabler but differences in national rules and lack of harmonization can be a barrier for ICT uptake

  • BSR countries compete with each other on access to the workforce. Nevertheless, there is an unexploited potential for exchange of ideas, e.g. how to recruit talents and upgrade competences

  • Several BSR countries have developed Industry 4.0 platforms that could be better connected across borders. Also, there is an added value in connecting the Digital Innovation Hubs across borders and stimulate collaboration between knowledge institutions and SME’s

  • BSR countries could learn from their neighbors regarding how financial instruments for SME’s can be implemented for maximum impact on ICT uptake

  • Should policy discussions be limited to joint learning or could we even develop and launch joint policy opinions? DIGINNO's experience regarding transnational collaboration on industry digitalization can address policy agendas such as EU’s Digital Europe Initiative, the Nordic-Baltic ministerial collaboration, and positions expressed by Digital Europe Association.

  • The outcomes of the seminar will be included in the final Policy White Paper with recommendations for policies to promote transnational digital cooperation in the Baltic Sea Region, to be launched later this year.​


Further information:

Torben Aaberg, WP4 Lead,

Doris Pold, WP2 Lead,

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