As a transversal element, digitalization is a State policy that permeates the entire territory, all economic sectors and all social dimensions. For this reason, the Digital Spain review has reinforced the objective that digitalization should act as a barrier against inequality and contribute to closing the different existing gaps, including territorial ones. Because digitalization must be understood as a unique opportunity to bring territorial and social cohesion to our country.
For the digital transformation to become a reality throughout the territory, it is necessary to promote all the potential, building on the strengths of each region. In this regard, the Digital Spain update envisages the implementation of a comprehensive initiative to promote territorial digitalization projects.
The RETECH initiative (Territorial Networks of Technological Specialization) will articulate various regional projects aimed at digital transformation and specialization, ensuring coordination, collaboration and complementarity. RETECH is aligned with two of the main specific objectives of the Digital Spain agenda, such as leading disruptive change in an inclusive and sustainable way and focusing digitalization efforts on key economic sectors. It is, therefore, a flagship initiative that will support driving projects by promoting knowledge exchange and multiplying the opportunities of each region, through national networks that maximize territorial balance and social cohesion.
This initiative, which stems from co-governance, is a response to the project proposals made by the Autonomous Communities in recent months. In this regard, numerous meetings and exchanges have been held with the Autonomous Regions to identify those projects that could be considered strategic by each region due to the driving effect they could generate in the economy, both regionally and nationally, their alignment with the Recovery Plan's axes, and their contribution to the achievement of the milestones and objectives associated with its various components. As a result of this dialogue, some 90 emblematic projects have been identified, many of them in the digital field, which have made it possible to identify not only isolated initiatives, but also thematic areas and types of digital projects of common interest for various regions of our country.
RETECH will thus promote leadership and interregional cooperation in the promotion of driving force projects with a high territorial and economic impact. To guarantee these synergies, additional funding will be required from the General State Administration and territorial administrations, with the possible participation of universities, research centers, companies, and business networks, the third sector, etc.
This vision includes a dual opportunity at the national level:
- Generate or promote disruptive initiatives based on different visions, experiences and knowledge acquired by regional administrations, mobilizing their own territorial knowledge and collaboration networks.
- Promote tractor effects in the territory as a whole in order to move towards newer, more sustainable and inclusive development models, increasing the economic, social and environmental potential of each region.
To ensure that RETECH has maximum impact, this initiative will leverage the existing investment instruments in the Recovery Plan and its future addendum, ensuring that digitalization projects financed with the Plan's funds meet the milestones and targets committed in the Plan.
The projects that will form part of RETECH belong to different areas of strategic action, based both on the priorities established in the Recovery Plan itself and on the interests, demands and potential expressed by the territories.
Artificial intelligence is today a factor in the transformation of the productivity model. Revitalising industries and sectors with high added value is particularly important to improve their competitiveness and productivity. In this sense, the so-called Industry 4.0 and the incipient Industry 5.0, based on a new production model in which the focus is on the interaction between humans and machines, are of great importance.
Artificial intelligence applied to industrial production processes in different sectors of activity and business segments will boost the capabilities of our companies and, at the same time, create higher quality employment. Spain and its regions have great potential to position themselves as emerging territories in the new industries associated with this technology, as indicated by the Global AI Index, which places our country as a "rising star" in the application of AI, especially due to the boost provided by the National Artificial Intelligence Strategy (ENIA).
The industrial revolution is based on disruptive technologies, with great expectations for the future, which make it possible to multiply the opportunities for transforming production processes and interactions between producers, suppliers and consumers of goods and services. Digital twins are included in the framework of these disruptive technologies as technological solutions that make it possible, based on real data, to virtually simulate objects or systems to improve the analysis of human, natural, industrial, etc. data, predict their behaviour and monitor processes. These technologies can be applied in different contexts and productive sectors and represent a qualitative leap in the capacity for innovation and also in the competitiveness of industries, the strategic management of organisations and the efficiency of processes.
In this line, the aim is to promote initiatives that enable the creation of platforms for data storage, analysis, modelling and visualisation, R&D&I laboratories, knowledge transfer actions, etc., based on the reproduction of digital twin environments and processes.
Technology can reduce emissions and facilitate adaptation to climate change, helping to predict climate risks and accidents. It also makes it possible to tackle major initiatives in the circular economy, improving the design of products and processes, coordinating value chains, reducing costs, improving interaction with consumers, etc. It is also an essential element for the control and conservation, preservation and recovery of biodiversity, and likewise, an opportunity to scale up strategic sectors in our country such as agri-food and tourism.
RETECH will promote collaborative projects in different territories aimed at developing "green by design" technologies (GreenTech), which serve as accelerator tools towards a sustainable and climate-neutral economy. It will also support initiatives based on digital and technological tools that contribute to favouring the ecological transition and minimising the environmental footprint (ClimateTech), generating both green jobs in digital sectors and digital jobs in the green economy (sustainable development), blue economy (marine and maritime sectors) and orange economy (cultural and creative industries).
As a neutral actor in the national cybersecurity ecosystem, INCIBE promoted the National Network of Excellence in Cybersecurity Research (RENIC), as a national sectoral association representing the national cybersecurity research ecosystem. RENIC is made up of research centres, technology centres and public and private universities and is conceived as an open, participatory and inclusive network that offers services to the entire national research ecosystem.
Understanding cybersecurity as an economic, professional and business opportunity, the promotion of this network through the strengthening of regional corridors connected by specific projects is incorporated as a priority for territorial investment of tractor initiatives with significant potential for scaling up in different industrial and productive sectors, and business and professional segments.
Spain must harness the potential of entrepreneurship as a mechanism for economic growth, job creation, talent attraction and retention, and social cohesion. Digital and innovative entrepreneurship is also an excellent opportunity for local development in the different regions.
In this sense, support projects will be promoted for centres and networks of capabilities that favour the creation of collaboration and innovation ecosystems, as well as the promotion of support and technical accompaniment networks, the mobilisation of financing mechanisms and the generation of synergies between territories and sectors. The aim is to turn Spain into a hub for digital entrepreneurship based on collaboration and joint efforts.
These projects are also fully aligned with the objectives set out in the SME Digitalisation Plan and the Recovery Plan, and will also be aligned with the Colabora Programme, a collaboration initiative between the different centres linked to entrepreneurship to promote cooperation between the different agents involved in supporting the Spanish innovation ecosystem, enabling knowledge to be shared and exchanged through the sharing and exchange of knowledge.
As a priority, innovative applications of technology will be promoted that understand digital as an element of social cohesion aimed at working towards inclusion and the recognition of diversity.
The rural environment is currently facing numerous challenges, perhaps the most relevant being depopulation and progressive ageing. One fact that illustrates this problem is that the ratio of young to old people is more than 35% lower in rural areas than in urban areas, and the smaller the municipality, the greater the difference.
For all these reasons, the implementation of digitalisation projects in rural and depopulated areas in different fields of action will contribute to boosting local economies, the exploitation of local products and the attraction of young and qualified profiles, which will make the territories more dynamic, generating, in addition, greater roots among the new generations due to the existence of greater opportunities.
Transformation projects in rural environments will also make it possible to take advantage of the potential of strategic sectors in certain territories, such as the agri-food sector, as well as to promote rural development, collaboration and the replicability of initiatives in different territories.
The Spanish fashion and textile industry is of great importance - it represents almost 3% of GDP and includes approximately 20,000 companies and is, in many respects, a world leader and benchmark.
Digital transformation is a great opportunity to boost this sector, with potential in various areas such as the implementation of e-commerce solutions, the application of digital tools throughout the value chain (manufacturing, materials or distribution and sales channels), the use of big data to increase efficiency, smart production, trend analysis or the improvement of the user experience, the promotion of the circular economy or the development of new green and sustainable solutions.
In this sense, RETECH will promote projects based on the use of new technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) for the digital transformation of the textile and fashion industry, from design to production and sales. This, together with the possibilities of applying digitalisation in the sector for the development of a greener and more sustainable industry.
Digitalisation, technology, is an essential tool for health management and the continuous improvement of this sector, resulting not only in greater efficiency and improvement from an economic point of view, but also in an improvement in people's well-being. In this sense, Spain cannot miss out on the opportunities offered by technology in the field of health, such as data analysis for decision-making, telemedicine and the application of technology as a complement to traditional mechanisms, accessible information for citizens, etc.
Furthermore, the future of our health must be addressed in line with the European Union. The European Commission points to the need to make further progress in developing systems that promote health and the central role of the patient and contribute to creating digital and innovative solutions to become more robust, accessible and effective.
In short, the so-called "digital health" or "digital health" is one of the key sectors for the digital transformation to be successful. This is not only because of the weight of this sector in the Spanish economy, but also because of two fundamental elements: the potential of data as an asset of great strategic value, and the existing synergies between public health and the private, research, pharmaceutical and university sectors, etc.
RETECH will therefore promote the implementation of projects that contribute to the development of a "digital health" sector that promotes the development and use of digital solutions throughout the value chain, and in turn promotes the creation of an ecosystem that favours the transfer of knowledge and innovation between laboratories, research centres, universities, entrepreneurs, companies, public entities and citizens.