Advanced technologies present enormous growth potential for Europe. Technologies such as the Internet of Things, industrial data, advanced manufacturing, robotics, 3D printing, blockchain technologies and artificial intelligence offer a range of opportunities that will enable European industry to expand its leadership in the emerging markets for the products and services of the future.
Advanced technologies are a fusion of digital and key enabling technologies (KETs), and the integration of physical and digital systems. They give rise to innovative business models and new processes, and the creation of smart products and services. They underpin the shift to a greener economy, are instrumental in modernising Europe’s industrial base, and drive the development of entirely new industries. Their importance makes them a key element of European industrial policy and they are increasingly contributing towards meeting today’s most pressing societal challenges.
EU businesses are not taking full advantage of these advanced technologies or the innovative business models offered by the collaborative economy. The state of the uptake of advanced technologies by industry varies across sectors and between EU countries and regions. There are also large disparities between large companies and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). To improve this situation the European Commission is working in the following areas.
Intelligent Cities Challenge
Cities shape the future of the EU. Their development can contribute to objectives that the EU is working towards: social fairness and prosperity, the empowerment of people through digital technologies, and the ‘European Green Deal’. Cities orchestrate the development of vibrant innovation ecosystems by bringing together local resources and mobilising the participation of stakeholders. European Commission initiatives recognise the need for an integrated approach to support local policy makers to understand the application of advanced technologies and the opportunities they provide. Actions such as the '100 Intelligent Cities Challenge' help cities to put technology at the service of citizens and support climate-neutral, sustainable growth.
Industrial applications of artificial intelligence and big data for SMEs
Artificial intelligence (AI) is one of the most strategically important technologies of the 21st century and is expected to bring higher productivity, improved corporate performance and economic growth. More importantly, these technologies have the potential to create solutions for pressing societal challenges that we wish to address. To keep up with the evolution of AI and capture the competitive advantages it can yield, companies, in particular SMEs, need further support. Therefore, we are exploring the most critical AI applications to accelerate its deployment and adoption by SMEs within strategic value chains.
Big data and digital platforms have grown dramatically over the past decade and are radically transforming every industry. In spite of huge economic potential, data sharing between companies has not taken off at sufficient scale. So the Commission seeks to identify and address any undue hurdles hindering data sharing and the use of privately-held data by other companies. On business-to-business data sharing, we are deploying two big data pilot projects to explore the innovation potential and innovative business models created by sharing data between data-producing/controlling entities and third-party businesses.
Advanced technologies for industry - support and tools
The Commission has developed a number of projects that monitor the development of advanced technologies in industry or provide other support to SMEs or projects in the field of KETs.
Strategic Policy Forum on Digital Entrepreneurship
The Strategic Policy Forum on Digital Entrepreneurship was a policy think tank that brought together thought leaders from business, academia and politics in the area of digital transformation and entrepreneurship. It advised the European Commission on policy issues and actions to foster digital transformation, and promoted the development of policy by EU countries at national and regional level. The Strategic Policy Forum drew up several reports on how to accelerate the digital transformation of European industry and enterprises.