Digital skills in focus at Annual EU4Digital Start-ups and Innovation Forum 2023

  • Date: 09/03/23 to 09/03/23
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The EU4Digital Facility will bring together key policy makers, leading start-up ecosystems organisations and experts in the area of digital innovation and startup ecosystem development in its 2023 Annual EU4Digital Start-ups and Innovation Forum. This high-level policy event will focus on ‘Digital upskilling of SMEs and start-ups in the Eastern Partnership region’ (EaP). The event will be held remotely in the form of a virtual session on 9 March 2023. 

This year, the forum will provide the venue for Eastern partner policymakers and key ICT innovation ecosystem actors, as well as international donors, to share experiences and strategic plans regarding support of SMEs’ access to digital skills, helping to reach the goal to upskill 1 million people in the Eastern partner countries. 

Regional challenges 

There are some challenges in the EaP region, such as insufficient knowledge about digital trends and tools as well as their social and economic impact. Surveys show that the biggest barriers to digitalise the region’s SMEs include this lack of knowledge and a lack of possibilities to use digital tools in business activities. There is a low level of digital skills maturity and difficulties in applying digital methods and tools in work-related environments. 

Who is the forum for? 

The audience of the event will include representatives of the European Commission (DG NEAR); ministerial-level representatives and agencies coordinating the development of innovation ecosystem and SME support; IT associations and networks of SMEs with a focus on digital markets; and innovation clusters and key online digital skills platform operators. Participation in the forum is by invitation only. 

Forum agenda 

The forum will be opened with welcome notes from DG NEAR and DG CNECT representatives, introducing the EU strategy and policy agenda on support for SMEs’ digital skills, as well as EC access support plans for the EaP region, and highlighting 2023 as the European Year of Skills.  

The agenda will include:

  • a keynote speech disclosing the tools and innovative model EY uses to digitally upskill its staff, which could be used to accelerate digital upskilling in the Eastern Partnership;
  • panel discussion where representatives of Eastern partner countries’ innovation and SME support agencies exhibit solutions and discuss challenges;
  • presentation of the EU4DIGITAL EdTech Hub, its ongoing design and inviting stakeholders to join in with elaborating its operational and governance model and selecting the educational programme priorities;
  • tour de table where international donors spotlight programmes and initiatives for supporting digital upskilling of SMEs that could inspire and be considered for localisation in the Eastern partner countries. 

Following each part of the event, participants will be able to ask questions and share their own experiences and ideas with governmental representatives and international donors.   

See the detailed forum agenda

Contact and further information 

In case of any questions, please contact the EU4Digital Facility ICT Innovation team at, noting in the topic ‘Start-ups and Innovation Forum 2023’.  

This high-level event is facilitated by the EU4Digital Facility and is expected to become a self-standing annual forum focusing on topics related to innovation and start-ups. The first Innovation Forum “Innovative solutions for the development of startup ecosystems in the Eastern Partnership” was held on 27 January 2022. The event culminated with the launch of the EaP Startups ecosystem platform.