April 24, 2024

Digital transformation of the Adriatic Croatia region

With the introduction of the European Digital Innovation Hubs (EDIH) Network in 2023, Europe made the first step to steer the countries towards a more digitally mature future. In its inaugural year of operations, strongly committed to enhancing small and medium-sized enterprises’ and public sector organisations’ digital transformation, it has already contributed to reshaping the digital landscape of Europe. Among 151 EDIHs funded by Digital Europe, 4 such centres have been established in Croatia, and one – EDIH ADRIA – is coordinated by the University of Rijeka and is responsible for the digital transformation of companies in Adriatic Croatia, one of the 3 statistical regions of Croatia.

EDIH ADRIA, a three-year project with the overall objective of supporting the digital transformation process of Adriatic Croatia, gathers experts who offer knowledge, experience, and problem-solving skills. It offers support for all aspects of digital transformation by investing in 5 interconnected specific goals/areas: 1) high-performance computing – HPC, 2) Artificial Intelligence – AI, 3) cybersecurity and trust, 4) advanced digital skills, and 5) deployment and best use of digital capacity and interoperability.

EDIH Adria operates as a user-centric consortium whereby all interested users can test digital technologies and apply them in their business, attend boot camps and workshops, learn how to set up an online store, what a database is for, how to introduce or improve the use of various sensors, but also how to use advanced AI.

The project includes 2 scientific research institutions (the University of Rijeka and the University of Pula), global technology leaders in their fields (Ericsson Nikola Tesla and Infobip, the first Croatian unicorn), business support institutions (Step Ri, leading Croatian business support institution) and technological innovations cluster (Smart Ri, the national competence centre for smart cities). Work on the project and implementation of activities is divided into 6 work packages, and all partners of the project consortium actively participate in the implementation of all project activities.

Further efforts aimed at exploring innovations and advancements in AI research are visible in numerous activities of our Centre for AI and Cybersecurity (AIRI). The Centre connects scientists from various fields and fosters openness to the economy to increase the knowledge transfer from academia to industry and vice versa. This way, the Centre initiates the transformation of the local economy through the development of innovative digital solutions. The implementation of these leads to economic growth and increased competitiveness of the local economy.

In as many as 20 laboratories, in addition to EDIH Adria, the Centre currently participates in the implementation of many projects, i.e. TSAAI (Transversal Skills in Applied Artificial Intelligence), INNO2MARE (Strengthening the capacity for excellence of Slovenian and Croatian innovation ecosystems to support the digital and green transitions of maritime regions), ABsistemDCiCloud, and Development of computational algorithms based on digital signal processing and artificial intelligence methods with application in modern transport systems.

Following the launch of EDIH Adria and adhering to recent EU policies on the responsible use of generative AI in research, the University of Rijeka recently adopted the Artificial Intelligence Tools Usage Policy. In this policy document, adopted by the University Senate, the University of Rijeka further elaborates basic terms, defines the aims of AI tools usage in teaching and research, states fundamental principles of their usage at the University, defines activities of the University in this area and stakeholders involved in these activities. Given the accelerated growth and development and the technological evolution of AI and AI-based digital and other technologies, the University of Rijeka shall revise and update its AI Tools Usage Policy regularly, at least once a year. In this way, the University continues its advocacy for a responsible, ethical, open, transparent, and innovative approach to the usage of AI tools and other advanced digital technologies.

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