ICT innovation and start-up ecosystems in the Eastern Partnership: progress and prospects in focus at EU4Digital meeting

    • Date: 14/10/20
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    Progress and future plans in the area of ICT innovation and start-up ecosystems were presented at a thematic session organised by the EU4Digital Facility on 8 October 2020, as part of the annual Steering Committee Meeting, which took place virtually between 5 and 9 October.

    Over 30 participants joined the session, including members of the European Commission, Harmonised Digital Market (HDM) Coordinators, EU Delegations and ICT innovation Expert network from Eastern partner countries.

    The session started with EU4Digital ICT innovation team leader, Anna Pobol, and Deputy Stream Leader, Ruta Salvyte-Tamosiuniene,  giving an overview of the state-of-play, results and future considerations for ICT innovation activities.

    One of the key achievement of the ICT innovation thematic stream was presented: the ICT ecosystem policy recommendation and action plans that have been developed and aligned with over 100 local stakeholders. Stakeholders have confirmed their commitment to implement the actions, and coordinating organisations have been identified. The action plans set a basis for the implementation of initiatives through nationally-funded or EU-supported projects in each Eastern partner country. These documents are now available online in the EU4Digital library.

    As a part of policy recommendations activity, a feasibility study of digital start-ups and scale-ups was carried out. Based on the results of the feasibility study, design of the Digital Innovation and Scale-up Initiative (DISC) financial facility pilot programme has begun, with the aim of launching a new fund for financing tech start-ups in their different growth stages in the coming years.  Ecosystem development needs will be supported in parallel to the launch of the DISC facility, by preparing a specific guidebook with capacity building recommendations for the Eastern partner countries. 

    Based on the developed networking plan for Eastern partner countries, the focus for virtual networking events has been selected. The 2nd ICT Innovation networking event on the topic of ‘Integration of business angels and venture capital into the EU and global networks’ took place on the same afternoon. Another four online networking events are planned in relation to selected policy areas

    Partnerships with local organisations supporting women in technology were established by the EU4Digital Facility in September 2020, with the aim of developing regional guidelines and country-level action plans for women mentorship programmes in technology implementation. The expectation is to see local partners taking over to launch the new programmes in the coming years.

    In addition, there are plans to establishe a government policy coordination forum in the coming year, as an annual event to bring together EaP and EU policy makers, start-ups and scale-ups, and other ICT ecosystem actors.

    The presentation was followed by feedback from the ICT innovation and start-ups ecosystems experts’ network coordinator, Rashad Azizov, Head of Department on Innovative Development of the Information Society and eGovernance at the Ministry of Transport, Communications and High Technologies of the Republic of the Azerbaijan. Mr. Azizov emphasised that the strengthened ICT Innovation network and connected ICT Innovation ecosystem players on local and regional level are the key components needed to take the developed action plans forward. 

    The event wrapped up with a common discussion on the state of play and future plans. The stakeholders emphasised the relevance of the developed policy actions plans. To achieve a wider impact, EU support in the identified priority areas is expected. In parallel, other regional priorities were discussed: the need for digitalisation of traditional SMEs and access to finance for digital start-ups and scale-ups. The region confirmed the need and readiness for the planned start-ups funding facility launch. The shared priorities will remain as key activities of ICT thematic area in the upcoming period.

    Further information

    The thematic sessions were organised in the framework of the annual Steering Committee Meetings of the EU4Digital initiative, with the aim of discussing implemented activities, results and future plans. Subscribe to the Newsletter to be always informed.