Digitalisation, a lever for European competitiveness

Digitalisation has become a cornerstone of modern economy and is currently accelerating the pace of creating more resilient, sustainable businesses. In the EU, this transformation has provided new impetus to accelerate the technology transition, promoting a shift towards e-health and facilitating technologies such as cybersecurity, artificial intelligence and high-performance computing.

Digitalisation is key for Europe, above all for small and medium-sized companies, which represent no less than 99.8% of European companies. Consequently, it is of great importance to find professionals who are highly specialised in the new technologies and incorporate them into economic sectors. This is highlighted in a study carried out by McKinsey & Company (2020), which forecasts a 20% growth in employment related to digital development (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics [STEM] areas), and up to 40% of growth in jobs that require a high level of specialisation in digital technologies.

The MERIT project, which is funded by the European Commission as part of the European Horizon programme, responds to this growing need for highly qualified professionals in digital technologies such as cybersecurity, IoT and artificial intelligence and proposes the development of a master’s degree to partially cover these requirements.

MERIT brings together industrial, research and technology transfer agents to develop a master’s degree that is clearly focused on responding to the current and future needs of European companies. MERIT has a specific focus on knowledge transfer from countries with a high Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI) – the index that classifies European Union countries according to their level of digitalisation and analyses their advances in recent years in relation to this topic – to countries with a low DESI. In this respect, the project considers partners in five countries: Spain, Italy, Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia and Romania, to generate a portfolio of technological needs, beyond the state of the art, focused on meeting the shortfalls of European countries.

MERIT is coordinated by the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC), which has great expertise in training and in digitalisation applied to many sectors. Given the extensive experience of CIT UPC in the area of technology transfer that is developed at the UPC, our role in MERIT is that of leading communication of the project and its results for academia, industry and the public in general, to maximise the reach of the project and boost its replicability. For this task, we have the collaboration of two digital innovation hubs:  Associate Digital Innovation Zone (Romania) and Sunrise Valley Science and Technology Park (Lithuania). At CIT UPC, we will help to strengthen the participation of companies in the Spanish business fabric by collaborating directly with companies and clusters to present a leading master’s degree in this area and contribute to the implementation of the European digital strategy and specifically that of Spain. This will help to improve the capacity for innovation and the competitiveness of our economy.

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