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On November 13th, Skillnet Ireland and the DIGITAL SME Alliance, the largest network of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs) in Europe, will host the first edition of the Digital SME Summit, at the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), in Brussels. 

The summit aims to build on the strategic role of innovative European SMEs to put Europe at the forefront of technological development while suggesting approaches for a digital society that is fit for the 21st century. The event is dedicated to SMEs, providing a unique opportunity for discussion with a wide range of high-level EU and global stakeholders, to gain cutting-edge insights into challenges and opportunities facing technology SMEs across Europe. It will also facilitate vital networking opportunities for digital SMEs, representatives from the EU and international institutions, industry associations, researchers, journalists and many more stakeholders.

The one-day event will feature a series of debates with high-profile speakers, including representatives from Skillnet Ireland, addressing how digital technologies affect the defining challenges of our times.  

Discussions will be held on the potential of Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology, the path for sustainable digitalisation, the need for upskilling and reskilling of the European workforce, the interplay between innovation and competition in digital markets and the role of SMEs as enablers of a digitally sovereign Europe.

The European Year of Skills – Fast-Tracking the Digital Transition with Skills

At 2.30pm, Brendan McGinty, Skillnet Ireland Chairperson, will give a keynote address, opening a panel discussion on ‘The European Year of Skills – Fast-Tracking the Digital Transition with Skills’. The panellists will include Mark Jordan, Skillnet Ireland Chief Strategy Officer; Maria Walsh, Member of European Parliament for Midlands North-West; Francesca Borgonovi, Head of Skills Analysis at the OECD Centre for Skills; Patricia Garcia González, Institutional President at Femxa; and Emma Kiraly, Senior Program Manager with JA Europe. 

The European Year of Skills, which will run until May 2024, is a pivotal commitment from the President of the European Commission, Ursula Von Der Leyen, and signals the importance of skills and talent development throughout member states. The European Year of Skills gives a fresh impetus to lifelong learning and upskilling.

Brendan’s speech and the panel discussion will examine challenges facing EU member state economies and the role of the European Year of Skills in empowering people and businesses to contribute to the green and digital transitions, supporting innovation and competitiveness across Ireland and the European Union.

Speaking ahead of the conference, Mark Jordan, Skillnet Ireland Chief Strategy Officer, said: “Skillnet Ireland is delighted to co-host the inaugural Digital SME Summit with our partners at the DIGITAL SME Alliance. In this the European Year of Skills, the summit is an exciting new venture that recognises the vital role of innovative SMEs in futureproofing the European economy. SMEs in Ireland and across Europe are grappling with a range of new challenges, not least digitalisation and the green transition. Through collaboration with industry, Skillnet Ireland is focused on addressing the upskilling needs associated with these modern challenges, thereby empowering businesses to remain competitive and succeed.” 

The European DIGITAL SME Alliance is the largest network of ICT small and medium enterprises in Europe, representing more than 45,000 enterprises in total. The Alliance is the joint effort of 30 national and regional SME associations from EU member states and neighbouring countries to put digital SMEs at the centre of the EU agenda.

In total the Digital SME Summit will hear from over 30 speakers and six panels while the event will conclude with presentations at the inaugural DIGITAL SME awards. The awards aim to shine a spotlight on SMEs developing and providing digital solutions with positive outcomes in the areas of climate action, societal well-being, and upskilling.

The Digital SME Summit has been developed with the belief that for all European industrial ecosystems to embrace their digital transformation journey, Europe needs to be at the forefront of technological developments; strategically leveraging on bottom-up innovation coming from SMEs which are the backbone of the European industrial base. 

Learn More and Register

Full details about the Digital SME Summit and how to register are available online here

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