Lack of digitalisation expertise
A majority of Austrian small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) have little knowledge of the requirements of digitalisation and are hesitant to embark on their own digital innovation projects. This is confirmed by a study of the Austrian Economic Chamber on "Digital Transformation of SMEs in Austria 2017" as well as a survey of existing innovation support institutions and experiences from previous SME networking and qualification projects.
The dissemination of good practice, exchange of experience and qualification as well as the possibility to undertake pilot projects with the support of experts are tried and tested ways to counter such deficits. In addition, digital platforms offer new approaches to knowledge and cooperation, including open innovation processes, which have so far only been used to a limited extent by SMEs.
The Digital Innovation Hub Lower Austria/Vienna/Burgenland
The inter-state DIHOST consortium consists of six RTDI institutions from Lower Austria, Vienna and Burgenland, which have jointly developed a comprehensive service programme to increase the transformation capacity and transformation speed of small and medium-sized enterprises in Eastern Austria with regard to digital innovations.
The DIHOST concept focuses on three technological priority areas: 3D printing, blockchain & IT security and Internet of Things (IoT), as well as sensor technology & connectivity. Each provides a differentiated offer in the areas of information & awareness, further education and digital innovation as well as additional services. Overall, DIHOST aims primarily at initiating concrete SME implementation projects. Participating SMEs can call upon individual services in order to get started in the digital transformation and to implement their own digital innovation projects accompanied by the DIHOST partners.
DIHOST also uses the "Virtual House of Digitalization", a part of Lower Austria`s Digitalization initiative as a central networking platform. The regional Economic Chambers in Lower Austria, Vienna, Burgenland and Upper Austria support DIHOST in addressing SMEs nationwide via their communication channels.
A long-term DIHOST strategy is developed beyond the funding period to establish a private-public partnership model for the further development of services in cooperation with private-sector cooperation partners.