embrAIsme – Improving conditions and policies for SMEs to embrace AI

The project embrAIsme is implemented in the framework of the Interreg Europe programme 2021-2027 and co-financed by the European Union

Vienna— 16.04.2024On 14 and 15 of May Austria Wirtschaftsservice has held in Vienna the official kick-off event and the first transnational seminar to start the project “embrAIsme – Improving conditions and policies for SMEs to embrace AI”, encouraging the uptake of AI by SMEs regardless of their location, size, and sector in the partner countries.

The project’s specific objectives are to:

– Raise awareness of AI and increase data readiness

– Invest in human capita and skills

– Facilitate access to finance

– Foster networking and cooperation

– Strengthen the governance of AI/SME policies

– Better consider legal and ethical issues.

embrAIsme gathers 9 partners from Austria, Bulgaria, Finland, Spain, Ireland, Slovenia, Portugal to federate expertise, resources, and ambitions to answer the challenges related to the remarkable rase of AI as the most prominent driver of the next wave of digitalization. In 2020, 39% of large enterprises in the EU used 2 or more AI technologies compared to only 22% of small enterprises. SMEs face a series of barriers in adopting AI. To name just a few: lack of awareness and data readiness, lack of human capital and skills, lack of finance, lack of networking and collaboration, and reputational, business, and legal risks.

The project unifies the efforts of regional and national authorities, universities, technological institutes, innovation, and business development agencies. They will investigate and improve the AI policy area, changing rapidly because of technological advances at European and global levels through intensive and innovative interregional learning, good practices collection and transfer, study visits and policy learning events.

The project budget is 2,302,690 € and will last from 01 Apr 2024 to 30 Jun 2028.

The first interregional policy learning event on access to finance in Vienna was held on May 14 and 15. Representatives from partner countries have been offered the opportunity to get acquainted with the Austria’s financing mechanisms for SMEs.

After the welcome Speech from CEO of Austria Wirtschaftsservice (aws) Mr. Bernhard Sagmeister the Austrian practices in funding for first steps for SMEs towards implementation of AI were presented.

An international team of experts from partner countries – Mrs. Henriette Spyra (BMK), Mrs, Maya Pindeus (AUT), Mr. David Bermingham (IRL), Mr. Kaloyan Ratchev (BGR), Mrs. Jouni Markkanen (FIN) snd Mr. Eliano Marques (PT) facilitated a vivid and very fruitful discussion between partners on how they can most effectively shape the adoption of artificial intelligence by businesses in Europe and in partnering regions. A specific accent was put on how to ensure AI is implemented by SMEs in a manner that is both efficient and trustworthy.

On the next day, partners had an intensive and inspiring program with good practices discussions and study visits in Vienna.

First, an interactive workshop about Finance in AI was organised by AWS to deepen the knowledge of partners on how to identify their weaknesses in relation to public Grants and Grant Systems correlated to AI for SME´s. Participants then worked out together, led by Mr. Hannes A. Schwetz, AWS Progam manager AI on an exercise focused on designing the most appropriate grant program for their country.

The event was the first step towards the project ambitions to foster AI excellence from the lab to the market and accelerate investment in AI while creating rules to ensure that the technology is trustworthy in participating 7 countries.

For more information on to start the project “embrAIsme – Improving conditions and policies for SMEs to embrace AI” visit our website https://www.interregeurope.eu/embraisme.