Three-part series: How Europe is dealing with digitisation – 3

Part three of the three-part blog series:
Digital Roadmap Austria - Austria is getting ready for digitisation

How Austria intends to use the “Digital Roadmap Austria” to prepare the nation for digitisation. And: Upper Austria plans to become a digital frontrunner.

With its twelve guiding principles, Austria is setting an example within the framework of the Europe-wide value concept.

  • Everyone needs to be able to take part in digitisation.
  • No child should leave the education system without digital skills.
  • Basic and human rights also apply in the digital world.
  • A well developed and affordable digital infrastructure is a prerequisite for access to the internet for all.
  • Digitisation should ensure better jobs with higher qualifications.
  • Austria will create the legal framework to enable new business and working models.
  • Austria supports companies with their digital transformation in order to increase the quality of the business location.
  • Austria supports science and research so that the country is able to become one of the innovation leaders.
  • Austria plays an active role in shaping the digital European Single Market.
  • Austria aims to achieve high levels of security in the digital area and relies on the best standards in data protection.
  • Austria ensures a respectful culture of online discussion.
  • The public sector acts as a driver for innovation and facilitates convenient, easy and accessible communication with public administration for private citizens and companies.

In terms of technology, the Digital Roadmap aims for research and development successes and subsequent implementation of service and product innovations by the manufacturing industry involving all relevant future digital trends, in close coordination with the market. This includes for instance 5G, the Internet of Things, big data, artificial intelligence (AI), open knowledge, augmented and virtual reality, 3D printing, intelligent materials (4D), smart grids and blockchain technology.

The essential strategies and guidelines of the individual initiatives that have already been adopted, including “Digital education”, “Broadband strategy 2020” and the “Austrian Federal RTI strategy”, have been consolidated for this purpose.

The Austrian federal government plans to use this broad-based approach to overcome the challenges associated with digitisation at all levels of society with a focus on the future, and also to ensure integration and inclusion, along with security, protection and trust as part of this process when using digital technologies.

SME DIGITAL – No need to reinvent the wheel!

The Austrian “SME DIGITAL” funding programme has been in place since March 2017. It is hardly a secret that Austria has been inspired by neighbouring Germany in this regard, and has based the four implementation measures for the ten million euro initiative over the next two years around Germany's successful concept. 

In their efforts to establish digital skills and expertise, the initiators from the Austrian Federal Ministry of Science, Research and Economy and the Federal Economic Chambers are relying on increased awareness, comprehensive communication and transfer of knowledge, along with qualification through digital innovation hubs.

This is a good time to mention our own activities at the IT Cluster Upper Austria: we have already been working on setting up a hub for several months. Here the combined skills and expertise of the regional scientific community and knowledge and expertise in industry are being consolidated under the focal topic of information and network security. As preliminary strategic work has been done and conceptual approaches have been developed, now is also a good opportunity to present this positioning of the State of Upper Austria following submission of the corresponding Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG) tender, and thereby to line up the state capital Linz as a frontrunner for digitisation in Austria. However, it is also extremely important for us to overcome our habitual “silo thinking” and to think outside of the box as they do in Germany, in order also to establish international expertise in such a Digital Security hub and be able to attract foreign investors.

Austria will find its own path

I have deliberately selected the German, French and European approach towards digitisation for my three-part blog series, “How Europe is dealing with digitisation”. Freedom and social solidarity as cornerstones of a digital economy, such as in France. Comprehensive nationwide efforts to establish digital expertise based on traditional industrial and scientific strengths via regional hubs and strong internationalisation of the model on a global scale, as they are doing in Germany. The best infrastructures and uniform standards, as at the European level – if Austria bases its strategy on the strengths of these different approaches and concentrates on a “best-of” approach, yet still manages to find its own distinctive path which takes into account the country's corporate cultures and concept of society, then we do not need to have any concerns about our own digital future.