Comparison of practices adopted by selected European states to achive the EU goal of 75% digitalisation rate among SMEs by 2030.

In an era where digital transformation is reshaping industries and economies, Small to Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) play a vital role in Europe’s economic landscape. Recognizing the potential of digitalisation in driving growth and competitiveness, the European Union (EU) has set an ambitious target of achieving a 75% digitalisation rate among SMEs by 2030. In this article, we will explore the best practices adopted by various European countries, with a specific focus on Italy, Spain, Greece, Czech Republic, Cyprus, Bulgaria, and Norway, to accelerate the digitalisation of SMEs and contribute to the EU’s vision.

Italy has been actively working towards digital transformation, fostering an ecosystem of innovation and digitalisation for its SMEs. The government has implemented initiatives such as “Impresa 4.0,” which aims to promote the adoption of advanced technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), and cloud computing. 

Spain has embraced digitalisation as a strategic priority, implementing policies and programs to facilitate SMEs’ digital transformation. The country has launched initiatives like “Acelera Pymes” and “Next Tech Fund” to provide funding and support for SMEs in adopting digital technologies, enhancing their online presence, and improving their digital skills. 

Greece recognizes the importance of digitalisation in improving its SMEs’ competitiveness. The country has focused on creating a supportive environment by launching initiatives such as the “Digital Greece” program and the “Digital Transformation Bible 2021-2025.” These programs aim to enhance digital skills, promote digital entrepreneurship, and encourage SMEs to adopt digital solutions. 

Czech Republic has made significant strides in digitising its SMEs, focusing on strengthening their digital capabilities. The country has established the “National Digital Coalition” to bring together various stakeholders and develop a comprehensive digitalisation strategy. The government has also launched programs like the “National Recovery Plan ” and “Direct Support for Digitalization ” to support SMEs in adopting emerging technologies, improving cybersecurity, and leveraging data analytics.

Cyprus has recognized the potential of digitalisation in boosting its SME sector. The government has implemented initiatives like the “National Digital Strategy 2021-2027,” which promotes the digital transformation of businesses, enhances digital skills, and supports innovation. Cyprus also provides financial assistance through programs like the ” The Sponsorship Scheme for the Digital Upgrade of Business ” and “Startup Visa Scheme,” or “National Digitalization Funds” encouraging entrepreneurship and innovation.

Bulgaria has been actively promoting digitalisation to enhance the competitiveness of its SMEs. The country has established the ” The National Development Programme BULGARIA 2030″ to accelerate the adoption of digital technologies among SMEs. Bulgaria also offers financial incentives and grants through programs like the “Innovative Enterprise” ” to support digital projects and foster innovation. 

Norway has been a frontrunner in digitalisation, creating an enabling environment for SMEs to thrive in the digital economy. The country has established the “Digitalisation Program for Business” to support SMEs in adopting digital solutions, enhancing their digital skills, and exploring new business models. Norway also provides funding opportunities through programs like “Innovasjon Norge” enabling SMEs to innovate and leverage.

When comparing the best practices in digitalisation among the selected European countries, some commonalities and differences emerge. All countries have recognized the significance of digitalisation in enhancing SMEs’ competitiveness and have implemented strategies and initiatives to facilitate the adoption of digital technologies. Financial support, such as grants and funding programs, is prevalent across most countries, aiming to alleviate the financial burden associated with digital transformation. Additionally, the establishment of digital innovation hubs or networks serves as a valuable resource for SMEs seeking guidance and support throughout their digital journey.

While the approaches are similar, there are notable differences in emphasis and focus. Italy, Spain, and Greece, for example, place significant emphasis on improving digital skills and providing training programs to equip SMEs with the necessary knowledge to leverage digital technologies effectively. Spain stands out for its collaboration between SMEs and startups, fostering a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship. Czech Republic and Cyprus prioritize cybersecurity measures and data analytics, recognizing their importance in protecting SMEs and harnessing valuable insights. Bulgaria focuses on fostering innovation and offers grants to support digital projects. Norway, known for its advanced digital infrastructure, places a strong emphasis on exploring new business models and driving innovation in SMEs.

By leveraging the best practices observed in countries like Italy, Spain, Greece, Czech Republic, Cyprus, Bulgaria, and Norway, other European nations can develop tailored strategies to enhance their SMEs’ digitalisation rates. Ultimately, achieving the EU’s ambitious digitalisation target will contribute to the growth, innovation, and long-term sustainability of SMEs in Europe, strengthening their position in the global digital economy.


Written by: Synthesis Centre for Research and Education,

June, 2023

Funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Education and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA). Neither the European Union nor EACEA can be held responsible for them 2022-1-CZ01-KA220-VET- 000086461

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