Digital sovereignty is a key issue facing European industry today, but what does it mean and why does it matter? And how can Inside (formally known as ARTEMIS) contribute to this through the joint creation of Intelligent Digital Systems? Professor Jerker Delsing of Luleå University of Technology shares his perspective on European competitiveness and what it means to be Inside.
The bridge to industry
Twenty years ago, Luleå’s Computer Science programme was appreciated by the university but was small in comparison to subjects like Mechanical Engineering. Today, it boasts the largest number of students for a single programme in the engineering faculty – something Jerker views as an important sign that needs to be positively embraced. “It’s very clear that the digital transformation we’re working on means transforming many, many activities in our society. Tiny mechanical things are producing and consuming data and information. This is a new dimension which is still to be understood, embraced and integrated into operations, teaching and leveraging in terms of interactions between players in a value network.”
This is where Inside comes in: as part of a network with OEMs, SMEs and research institutes, universities can build bridges with industry in order to understand the most pressing issues they face. “And we can jointly build the projects in which me, my team and my students can move things to the next level,” Jerker adds, “such as by creating the next generation of software that can hopefully propel European industry a little faster than other regions of the world.”
“Once we get together, there is an openness and trust where we can talk with the understanding that I’m not transferring information further if it relates to IPR. The other side is that we can create things that are made available more openly. We have a very important relationship with the Eclipse Foundation and we see that a number of European companies are embracing open-source thinking, with everybody adding their piece to the puzzle. If we cooperate, we can sell things globally and have a bigger business impact while helping ourselves to become competitive in areas other than embedded intelligence.”
Catapulting to new strengths
It’s clear then that digital sovereignty need not mean ‘Fortress Europe’. For many, it represents an active role in the global community while retaining control of one’s own destiny, in which case Europe’s strengths – such as Intelligent Digital Systems for automation and automotive – can be a springboard to future success. “It’s much easier to win where you’re already strong,” Jerker notes. “You can say that you’re already earning enough money on certain things, but for how long? If we don’t move ourselves, others will move. It’s about building where we have strengths and seeing if these can catapult us to areas where we don’t have strengths. And if we lose the areas we’re strong in today, it’s damn hard to win other areas where we have less reputation and knowledge.”
This transition may still be in its early stages, but Inside’s options for collaboration and long-term governance on new technologies provide an extra depth to European competitiveness, helping us to keep pace or even retain an edge over powerhouses like the US and China. “This is what I see: we’re adding a dimension hardly there before,” concludes Jerker. “It’s kind of a paradigm shift which needs to be taken, but regions that are a little bit ahead on this will clearly benefit. This is what digitisation is about.”