D4B launch event

After a successful launch in March 2023, the pan-European masters programme Digital4Business is making substantial progress.

Digital4Business is a four-year, €19.92m EU-funded project, led by a consortium of 15 partners from 7 EU countries, who will research and deliver a market-led European masters programme, with both academic and industry accreditation. The programme will focus on the practical application of advanced digital skills within European SMEs and companies, to help businesses to achieve long-term competitiveness and growth through digital transformation and innovation. 

Digital4Business is one of the largest non-infrastructure projects awarded to date under the European Commission’s flagship DIGITAL Europe Programme, which provides €7.5 billion of funding to accelerate the economic recovery and shape the digital transformation of Europe’s society.

Within eight weeks, D4B has already developed a new brand identity and website, building up momentum after key stakeholders from all consortium members met at the National College of Ireland (NCI) in Dublin on March 21 and 22 for the official launch and a series of discovery workshops to lay the foundation for developing the international programme. 

Ireland’s Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris, addressed the event by video message, welcoming the collaboration of higher education institutes, research centres, training providers and industry partners saying: “We are always stronger together, especially when we harness pan-European cooperation.

“2023 is the European Year of Skills – the focus is on helping people get the right education to be prepared for quality jobs, and to address specific skills shortages that businesses are experiencing – particularly SMEs. Digital4Business directly serves this mission and I send you my wholehearted support as you launch this morning.”

Dara Calleary, Irish Minister of State for Trade Promotion and Digital Transformation, attended the launch event at NCI, saying: “Embracing digital technologies is crucial for our continued economic progress as well as for meeting the demands of our people in a modern society. 

“Digital4Business focuses on the practical application of advanced digital skills within companies, and especially, within our small and medium businesses. This type of talent development is essential to ensure that the skills and the expertise are in place for businesses to maximise their digital potential — to take advantage of the opportunities digital presents and to assist them in maintaining their competitive edge.”

The audience of consortium partners and digital stakeholders from across the EU — some joining the event remotely via livestream — heard from the European Commission’s Head of Interactive Technologies, Digital for Culture & Education Rehana Schwinninger-Ladak; Microsoft Ireland’s Dr Kevin Marshall,  and Paul Healy, CEO of Skillnet Ireland, who commented: “As Ireland’s business support agency spearheading workforce development, we are pleased to play our part in the Digital4Business initiative to help businesses to achieve long term competitiveness and growth through digital transformation and innovation. 

“The new European Masters Programme in Advanced Digital Skills will enhance the capacity of the workforce in the practical application of digital skills for European companies and SMEs. At a time when the digitalisation of the workplace is more important than ever, we at Skillnet Ireland are proud to respond to the business needs of business leaders, professionals, and graduates in Ireland and across Europe.”

Horacio Gonzalez-Vélez, Head of Cloud Competency Centre and NCI’s principal investigator at Digital4Business, said: “As the world rapidly shifts towards a digital future, mastering digital skills and investing in research and innovation on AI, cybersecurity, and cloud computing is crucial for Europe, to remain competitive and ensure a sustainable and prosperous future. Digital4Business provides practical industry-focused digital skills to graduates, and National College of Ireland is excited to contribute to meeting the current and future needs of SMEs and companies.”

Dave Feenan, Director DTSL and project partner, said: “The European Year of Skills 2023 will help companies, in particular small and medium enterprises, to address skills shortages in the EU. This Irish-led, €20m EU-funded skills alliance project aligns perfectly to those requirements.” 

Gerard McNamara, CEO Schuman Associates and project partner, said: “Digital4Business will give thousands of young Europeans from many different backgrounds the opportunity to learn the advanced digital skills they need to create a successful career in digital. It will help to reshape European businesses in a sustainable way, while transforming the lives of its students. This is a project with a purpose, and Schuman Associates is proud to be a part of it.”

Jeff Sheridan, Matrix Internet MD and project partner, said: “Making a difference is important to our team and Matrix is proud to be digitally empowering businesses and people across the EU’s 450 million citizens. The EU’s Digital Decade vision aligns with Irish values recently highlighted by Ursula von der Leyen — innovation, optimism and inclusion.”

Consortium partners spent two days in workshops at NCI, laying down the groundwork for a successful collaboration to move forward over the next four years, with the first MSc programme expected to launch in January 2024.