Donegal Digital partnership's work has been featured today across Europe. Jose Manuel San Emeterio, ERNACT Programme Manager and Donegal Digital partner, has participated in the Rural Vision Week to present the digital transformation ecosystem of Donegal to a wider audience.
After an online session about digitally-led innovative rural futures, experts across Europe have been invited to participate in group discussions to exchange views on challenges and opportunities and step changes needed. "I have brought into the discussion Donegal Digital, the Digital Transformation Ecosystem we have established in County Donegal", mentions Jose Manuel. Donegal Digital has been presented as an innovative public-private partnership established in 2014 as a response to the growing importance of digital for the future of the County and region and as a unique inter-agency project which has positive and active engagement from organisations and businesses from across the County. "The attendees got the opportunity to hear about group’s efforts that concern a range of evolving information technology and digital initiatives, all aimed at driving innovation, economic development and job creation in the county", he adds.
Jose Manuel has emphasized that Donegal Digital activities are aimed not only at avoiding “being left behind” in the digital age but instead ensuring that the County can thrive and grasp the opportunities it offers. Furthermore, Donegal Digital partner has mentioned the 12 local organizations, companies, agencies and institutions that form the partnership and collaborate together to promote digitally literate communities, to co-build sustainable enterprises and societal services.
Asked about what key issues that should be addressed in a vision of the future for this topic, Jose Manuel has explained to the audience that, "in these last years we have succeeded to make a significant progress in the County thanks to the collaborative work made within the Donegal Digital ecosystem. It has been demonstrated how the existing capacity within the County, in particular in relation to digital technologies, can be applied for more inclusive and prosperous communities". Nevertheless, he has also mentioned that factors like rurality and peripherality at both, national and EU level, jointly with unexpected circumstances like COVID-19 and Brexit, bring along challenges and opportunities that must be addressed. "The messages that we have shared with experts across Europe are the importance of ensuring that business have access to the latest digital technologies and supporting systems independently of their location, upskilling the community including the provision of new digital skills and support resilient local value chains adapted to changes in the market or unexpected situations".
Finally, referring to the step changes and conditions needed to get to this vision of the future from where we are now, Jose Manuel has highlighted the need to combine infrastructure development; a growing network of local digital innovation hubs; public and private support to the creation and maintenance of digital hubs that reach local actors; networking among these; offer skills and capacity development plans to support enterprises to adapt to new trends and the public services provision and support to facilitate integration into the community.