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How can Digital Innovation Hubs support SMEs to adopt AI?

A workshop on “AI-standardisation landscape & the role of Digital Innovation Hubs (DHIs)" discussed the role hubs can play in supporting the uptake of AI among SMEs and how they can help technology frontrunners.

An open door to SMEs

The event was organised by the Digital SME Focus Group on Artificial Intelligence and Working Group Standards and kicked off with Dr. Lindsay Frost, European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) board member, who presented the big picture of where AI standards will have the most impact. Frost highlighted the need to develop solid regulations that can be relied upon and practical support to European businesses. ETSI members have access to standards documents to give feedback and there are tons of additional resources freely available on their website.

For us at Nightingale HQ, it's important that we understand the standardisation landscape and what it means to our business and the industry in which we operate. The open forums are are good way to get updates and give feedback on progress.

AI as a differentiator

AI can be used to differentiate European SMEs and help them stand out from the crowd and the DHIs are there to support businesses to optimise the specification of AI applications. Stelian Brad from the Technical University of Cluj-Napoca referred to the AI Watch initiative, which monitors technical developments of AI and its impact in the economy, society and public services. A white paper on the outcomes can be accessed here.

The future

The standardisation process is a critical part of advancing Europe’s AI position and the objective of “bridging the gap” between standardisation and innovation is not an easy one. On a much more practical level it's important that SMEs are aware of who their local DIH are and what they are working on. They offer technical expertise so that businesses can “test before invest”. They also provide innovation services, such as financing advice, training and skills development that are needed for a successful digital transformation.

Check out the DIH Directory here

Check out the open calls that SMEs can get involved in here

This article is part of an ongoing series sharing insights into the development of AI policy and strategy in Europe. In November last year we were appointed to the European DIGITAL SME Alliance focus group on Artificial Intelligence (AI), and as an 'AI intensive' SME, we provide feedback on the adoption of AI technologies in relation with the impact of EU initiatives on the topic.