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ICT Innovation is clearly vital to economic development in the digital age: how fit are the Eastern partner countries’ innovation ecosystems compared to the European Union?
Eastern partner countries have significantly built up their innovation ecosystems in the pastrecent years; many hubs, accelerators and start-ups took the stage and business support programmes were introduced. Yet, there are still gaps regarding the capacity of ecosystem actors to service the growing needs of start-ups and small-to-medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The lack of resources for ecosystem expansion and specialisation of innovation support actors in EaP countries hinders their sustainable development and ecosystem performance. In comparison, ecosystem development progressed more quickly in the EU countries, which inherited a strong business support framework and abundant resources for ecosystem building in line with growing market needs.
During Phase I of EU4Digital, the ICT Innovation thematic area conducted market research comparing the start-up ecosystem performance of different countries. This showed that conversion rates between the startup development stages were 70% lower in Eastern partner countries than in Central and Eastern Europe. To improve performance, Phase II of the initiative focuses on specifying the gaps in Eastern partner countries’ start-up and innovation ecosystems, developing targeted strategies for intervention, and providing the platform for ecosystem development mapping and data-supported policy-making. The EU4Digital initiative aims to foster a robust and inclusive ICT innovation ecosystem by promoting the critical role of ecosystem builders, the importance of partnerships between public and private sectors, and by empowering high-performance incubation programmes that provide access to knowledge, markets, capital, and other operational resources.
- ICT innovation