18 May 2023

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Do we have a chance to become the new Silicon Valley? Further digitalisation of the CEE region was debated at the Three Sees Congress

We can become a real digital hub for Europe," said Michał Kanownik, President of Digital Poland Association, during the local governments of the Three Seas Region Congress in Lublin. How to take this opportunity? Experts talked about cyber security, investments and interoperability.

Over the past five years, the value of the digital sector of the Three Seas countries' economy has increased by 42 billion euro. Not surprisingly, digitalisation was one of the most important topics of the third Three Seas Local Government Congress held in Lublin, Poland. During a panel titled 'Three Seas regions on the path of digital development', experts looked at possible evolutionary paths for this area.

Michał Kanownik, president of Digital Poland Association (Związek Cyfrowa Polska), an alliance of the key players in the Polish new technologies market, touched on the issues of financing and EU regulations. - Are we capable of speaking in unison, when representing the Three Seas region in Brussels? - he asked.

- Overregulation does more harm than good, replied Paweł Lewandowski, Undersecretary of State at the Ministry of Digitalisation. The politician also stressed that the law is not always in line with the current needs of the industry: - Legislation must catch up with the pace of technology development in order to be effective - Paweł Lewandowski pointed out.

Cyber security in the age of AI is a challenge for the region

The debate was filled with references to digital security. - Poland registered a record number of cyber-attacks last year. Cyber security is a very important branch of our efforts," said Ignacy Swiecicki, head of the Digital Economy Department at the Polish Economic Institute. He was backed up by Lucia Colníková, head of digital development at the Slovak Alliance for an Innovative Economy (SAPIE): - 'A large number of cyber-attacks can be particularly threatening to small and medium-sized enterprises. In the end, this has a negative impact on the market as a whole,' she said.

Robert Bogdanffy, Director of Public Affairs at ANIS Romania, when asked about the main topics that the Three Seas countries should deal with, said: - It is cloud computing, i.e. information processing in the cloud, cyber security. We especially need to consider in the context of the AI development of artificial intelligence. We need to think about interoperability that allows implementation of different solutions not only within a particular country, but within the whole network. It is necessary to link different information systems at the level of political and local government centres, as well as businesses, he pointed out.

Lucia Colníková emphasised that modern technologies can help small and medium-sized enterprises survive crises such as war or pandemics. According to her, creating European digitalisation hubs is also an opportunity for entrepreneurship.

How to engage women in digitalisation?

Žydrūnė Vitaitė, co-founder of Women Go Tech, highlighted slightly different topics. When Michal Kanownik asked her about the role and presence of women in the topic of digitalisation, the Lithuanian answered directly: - In the last 10 years, I have not met women who are engineers and have worked on creating digital applications.

This topic is particularly important as there is a shortage of professionals across the digital sector. - Despite a large number of investments towards innovation, the ICT sector continues to struggle with the lack of suitable talents. There are countries that are doing better on this topic and on the issue of women's presence in the new technology industry. Good examples are Romania, Latvia or Estonia. However, we also have markets such as Poland or the Czech Republic, where there are far fewer women working in the digital sector," Žydrūnė Vitaitė enumerated. She argued that a greater openness to women could to some extent solve the talent shortage problem.

This is the Third Three Seas Congress under the patronage of the President of the Republic of Poland

The Three Seas is an international economic and political initiative that brings together 12 countries of the European Union. The Local-Governmental Three Seas Congress and the accompanying Economic Forum, which both took place in Lublin, is the third such event. It brings together politicians and business representatives for a joint discussion on the future and further integration of the region's countries. The congress was held under the honorary patronage of Polish President Andrzej Duda. The debate on digitalisation was organised by the CEE Digital Coalition, a alliance of digital industry organisations from Central and Eastern European countries.