On November 10, the European Commission (EC) adopted the first three Work Programmes (WP) under the Digital Europe Programme, with a total budget of €1.9782 billion. These are:
- A main work programme (including creation of a Testing and Experimentation Facility (TEF) for Edge AI)
- A work programme on cybersecurity
- A work programme on creating European Digital Innovation Hubs
See the press release for more information. The first calls will be published by the end of November, and more calls will be published in 2022.
Digital Europe: purpose & goals
The Digital Europe programme aims to strengthen Europe’s technological sovereignty and support the aims of the EU’s Digital Decade. In so doing, it intends to bring the benefits of digitalization to Europe’s citizens, businesses and public administrations. The three work programmes outline actions budgeted for 2022-2023 in pursuit of these ambitions.
Key areas and topics
Key areas covered in the main work programme are artificial intelligence (AI), cloud and data spaces, quantum communication infrastructure, advanced digital skills, and the wide use of digital technologies across the economy and society. Together, these will receive €1.38 billion in funding.
The creation of a Testing & Experimentation Facility (TEF) for Edge AI is one of the topis in this work programme.
AI pilot line open to European industry
The Edge AI TEF will be a “joint distributed platform”, with its development led by European centres of excellence in microelectronics technologies and key industrial players in the microelectronics ecosystem.
The platform will be a pilot line open to EU industrial businesses, including SMEs, through European or nationally funded programmes. The EC foresees strong cooperation with the Joint Undertaking on Key Digital Technologies (KDT), as well as European partnerships in other areas such as High Performance Computing, 5G/6G and cloud computing.
Specifically, the Commission is seeking to ensure European industry will have access to “trusted, high performance, low-power edge components and technologies to support the massive data-processing requirements of AI and the digital transformation.”
Easy access to companies of all sizes
The Commission intends the TEF to offer world-class experimentation facilities to users from semiconductor manufacturers and fabless companies to end-user industries. Companies will be able to “develop, test and experiment AI product prototypes …. custom-designed for their application environment.” Ultimately, this will lead to fully tested and validated European IP and Edge AI products enabled by European technology, ready for market deployment.
For SMEs and start-ups, the EC says the TEF will provide “fast and simple access to world-class testing facilities, and rich networks of stakeholders and potential customers.” This access will come through a network of European Digital Innovation Hubs – one-stop shops providing access to technical expertise and experimentation.
Synergies across Digital Europe actions
The TEF for Edge AI is one of a number of sectorial TEFs included in the work programme. Others will address manufacturing, agri-food, healthcare, and smart communities. The Commission expects synergies among these application areas. For instance, AI components delivered by the Edge AI TEF might be integrated into distributed AI platforms in areas such as industrial Internet of Things (IoT), precision agriculture, autonomous vehicles, and implanted/wearable medical devices.
In addition, the advanced semiconductor equipment implemented for the TEF may be relevant for a European quantum computing infrastructure.
Increasing European competitiveness
The TEF for Edge AI is part of a wide-ranging set of topics which will receive EU funding through the Digital Europe work programmes .
The actions in the main work programme will be complemented by actions in the two specific programmes: cybersecurity and European Digital Innovation Hubs (EDIHs). The EDIHs will play a key part in providing SME access to resources such as the TEFs and the technological and competitive advantages they are expected to deliver.
Commenting on the work programme announcement, Thierry Breton, Commissioner for Internal Market, said: “By 2030, data, cloud, edge and quantum computing will drive industrial and societal innovation, creating new business models. The €2 billion investment announced today enables European companies – of all sizes and notably startups – to seize opportunities in fast-growing markets.”
For more information on:
EC Press Release and links to work programmes
How to get funding under the Digital Europe programme
Information day on the 1st call of the Digital Europe programme to establish a network of European Digital Innovation Hubs (EDIH)