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The Industry 4.0 Plan, first launched by the MiSE in 2015, has built a digital innovation infrastructure network by creating a bridge between business, training and job, innovation and territories. There are two key players in this innovative network: the Competence Centres and the DIHs – Digital Innovation Hubs. Both have the task of stimulating and promoting the production system’s demand for innovation, strengthening the level of knowledge and awareness of the opportunities offered by digitalisation, and are considered to be the gateway to Industry 4.0. In this new article of our JOurnal we will talk about the role played by DIHs and Competence Centres by understanding the tools and services they can offer through a network of national and European innovation actors.

Table of contents

Digital innovation hub

Digital Innovation Hubs are the real gateway for companies to the world of Industry 4.0, providing them with services to introduce 4.0 technologies, develop digital transformation projects, and access the innovation ecosystem at regional, national and European level. These are aggregators of talents with a strong presence in the area that were created with the aim of promoting innovation, entrepreneurship, research and development by encouraging the synergy between research centres, local authorities, universities, companies and investors and activating training courses that help all those interested, from students to renowned entrepreneurs, to keep up with the times. In this innovative scenario, DIHs, essential nodes in the innovation infrastructure network, also become part of national and European networks, acting as innovation transmission belts. They are thus counters that help SMEs to become competitive in their business processes, products and services, using digital technologies. They are based on technology infrastructures (Competence Centres – CCs) and provide access to the latest knowledge, skills and technologies to support their customers in piloting, testing and experimenting digital innovations. DIHs also provide commercial and financial support to implement these innovations by strengthening the digital transformation ecosystem.

Competence centers

CC – Competence Centres are the backbone of qualified knowledge and skills in some of the essential dimensions of Industry 4.0:
They are innovation centres created by public-private partnerships and at least one research organisation and are linked to university poles, public and private research centres and start-ups. CCs have the task of providing guidelines related to technological aspects aimed at SMEs, encouraging experimentation and the production of new technologies, training young people to provide them with digital skills through 4.0 training. Thanks to these innovative hubs, the aim is to equip the country with poles of excellence and to enhance the skills of universities and businesses by investing in training courses capable of creating new skills and aiming for an ‘educated’ digital transformation.

Agreement between digital innovation hubs and competence centres

The agreement between the Digital Innovation Hub and the Competence Center marks the birth of a true Italian 4.0 innovation network. The goal is to create synergies to accelerate the adoption of digital technologies 4.0 in production processes, especially in this delicate phase of resurrection of the entire production system. The collaboration is committed to supporting companies in the digital transformation of products, processes and supply chains through a partnership aimed at enhancing their respective roles and skills:
The agreement defines the roles of the players in their areas of competence and establishes the guidelines for Italian digital innovation to be proposed in Europe to participate in the Digital Europe Programme. Thanks to the synergies with Confidustria and the Ministry, the agreement regulates relations in three areas:


Innovation hubs welcome all those who are entrepreneurial, future-oriented and up-to-date with the latest research and development. One of the main objectives of these places is to promote the idea of sustainable digital innovation. The ecosystem around which the Innovation Hub Catania, or IHCT, revolves has made it possible to carry out various projects, all of which have several points in common: the Europeanist sentiment, the promotion of youth entrepreneurship and the use of digital technologies. The projects carried out by the IHCT aim to strengthen the synergy between universities and businesses by promoting the employment of young people who, as digital natives, can offer their potential to help companies and local authorities face the digital transformation.
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