Digital Solutions in times of COVID-19: Innovative SMEs are enabling Europe’s “forced digitalisation”

  • Disrupted by COVID-19, businesses, citizens, and public administrations are turning to digital solutions to keep working

  • DIGITAL SME has launched a campaign to collect solutions in smart working, e-learning, digital health, 3D printing and many more categories at digitalsme.eu/solutions

  • The SME-led initiative, which started as solidarity campaign by a few German software companies, now nears 200 digital SMEs from all over Europe.

 

9 April, Brussels (DIGITAL SME). Times are tough for the European economy. Social distancing due to COVID-19 affects everyone, but brick-and-mortar businesses are hit particularly hard. Digital tools play a key role in keeping society and economy operational as physical spaces are closed or restricted.

A campaign born out of solidarity

The “Digital Solutions in times of COVID-19″ Campaign started as a solidarity initiative by a handful of German ICT SMEs. “They just sent us emails offering their solutions for free to help people during the crisis”, says Lisa Ehrentraut from the German Federal Association of digital SMEs (BITMi). “As we put their solutions on our website, more and more companies liked the idea and followed suit”.

Soon after, other SMEs from all over Europe reacted to the call of European DIGITAL SME Alliance and submitted their digital solutions. DIGITAL SME’s Brussels secretariat set up a campaign page and started a social media campaign to raise awareness about the many different tools and solutions presented there.

Smart Working, e-Learning, digital health and more

The fully search- and filterable online catalogue at digitalsme.eu/solutions enables users to find a solution that fits their specific context. Smart working and e-learning tools make up the biggest part of the solutions. Video calls, content collaboration, full virtual conference solutions and digital signature tools enable businesses to keep communicating and working as a team and help students to keep learning.

But beyond that, many digital solutions permit employees to do from their home what previously required a physical trip to a client’s site. Digital health apps measure patient’s vitals remotely, AI platforms help to speed up viral testing, smart streaming software relieves broadband connection: Both challenges and solutions during COVID-19 are manifold.

Support the SME-led campaign!

Currently nearing 200 submissions, the Digital Solutions campaign is picking up steam. DIGITAL SME is in touch with many stakeholders from the European institutions and national bodies alike to promote it and look for possibilities to centralise similar efforts.

However, the initiative will only be successful if we manage to connect the suppliers of digital solutions with the demand side: traditional businesses, citizens, and public administrations.

You can support the Digital Solutions campaign by spreading the word and sharing this article among your contacts. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, where we promote specific solutions that can help you. If you represent a digital enterprise, you can submit your solution and we are happy to feature it on the website! Organisations can join the campaign and become an active member in shaping it to fit a specific local or national context.

Do you need a digital solution for a specific challenge?

We also accept challenges from stakeholders who face a specific problem. The campaign was recently contacted by a COVID-19 emergency service active in Catalonia and other regions to help quickly set up a digital marketplace for ventilators. We connected the service with a list of suitable providers within two days. On another occasion, we provided city administrations throughout Europe with tried and tested, scalable solutions that can be deployed city-wide.

“No matter how you turn it, the solutions to this crisis are predominantly innovative and digital”, said Sebastiano Toffaletti in a recent webinar of the European Commission with representatives of the National Digital Skills and Jobs Coalitions. “And European digital SMEs are at the forefront of providing these solutions”.