Press Release: How R&I is driving the digital transformation

On June 30, Knowledge4Innovation held its last virtual debate of the series. The discussion centered around digital transformation, which is pivotal in our short term challenges as well as our long term goals for upskilling Europe’s workforce and citizens.

The keynote intervention came from Mr. Roberto Viola, Director General of DG Connect at the European Commission. The event was hosted by the chair of the K4I Forum Ms. Maria da Graça Carvalho and had the interventions of MEPs Ms. Susana Solís and Mr. Brando Benifei. The President of K4I, Mr. Robbert Fisher joined the discussion and elaborated on the K4I working group on Digital Transformation.

Mr. Viola elaborated on the latest developments from the Commission to make the digital transformation a reality in the upcoming months and years. He emphasized that the economy and society we know and recognize, is such thanks to digital technologies. The current health crisis has prompted us to advance digital transition in 3 months, to an extent that otherwise would have taken us a decade. Mr. Viola also stressed that a society that is digitalized is greener, thus the two priorities of the Commission: digital transformation and green transition, are closely tied together. Finally, digital technologies will play an even more decisive role in the aftermath of the pandemic, given that big data analytics and models will help us understand the evolution of it. Therefore, research and innovation plays an important role in improving these technologies.

Ms. Carvalho agreed that the last 3 months have seen unprecedented developments in digital transformation. However, there are still many areas that require investment in order to achieve that goal. Mr. Benifei pointed out the shortage of investment for the R&I sector for the upcoming years, despite seeing the decisive role of digital tools in fighting the pandemic. Ms. Solís stressed the importance of budget, highlighting the opportunity we have with Next Generation EU and other European programs to strengthen our innovation capacity and accelerate the transformation. The budget for the next decade, however, is not ambitious enough to achieve that aim.

Finally, Robbert Fisher presented the K4I Working Group on Digital Transformation, which, among other things, will focus on the improvement of digital skills. No one should be left behind in the digital transition, and regions, as Mr. Fisher pointed out, have an important role to play in this goal.

As a whole, speakers agreed on the fact that digital technologies have shown not only to be very important for fighting the current crisis, but will undoubtedly be at the center of future solutions to upcoming disruptions.

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