MERIT: Advanced digital skills to boost Digital Europe

The project Master of Science in Smart, Secure and Interconnected Systems (MERIT) was launched in October 2022. Co-funded project under the Digital Europe programme, MERIT will build an ambitious pan-European digital learning ecosystem which will aim to increase Europe’s skills gap among digital specialists.

MERIT aims to increase the number of young people who can contribute to the digital economy by enhancing their capacities for innovation, entrepreneurship and employability through enhanced on-the-job training and academic training at the university level – supported by continued education. 

In today’s globalised world where artificial intelligence (AI) is disrupting every industry including healthcare or transport services, IoT devices are being used everywhere from homes to businesses and cyber-attacks are becoming increasingly sophisticated, it is becoming increasingly important for every country to have an AI-ready workforce. The European Commission estimates that by 2030, up to €135 billion will be needed for investment in AI and related technologies. 

The main concern of MERIT is, therefore, to equip society with workers able to understand, manage and innovate in technological developments including these three specific fields: artificial intelligence (AI), IoT and cybersecurity.

MERIT includes a joint Master’s program that will be offered by four European universities: Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya – BarcelonaTech (UPC), Vilnius Gediminas Technical University (VILNIUS TECH), Riga Technical University (RTU) and Tallinn University of Technology (TalTech). The project is led by the UPC in Spain, and will include industrial partners and other stakeholders as excellence and research centres, national technology transfer organisations and Digital Innovation Hubs, that contribute with their expertise, research and innovation activities: Associate Digital Innovation Zone – Zona de Inovare Digitala Ro Partner, Fondazione Bruno Kessler, Asoindel, Sauletekio Slenio Mokslo IR TEchnologiju Parkas LT and Exacaster UAB.

How does MERIT achieve this?

Through its four-year programme, MERIT will develop a strong innovative, inclusive, sustainable, educational ecosystem. The programme will create a knowledge base of society’s needs in the field of digital innovation and employability. It will also establish conversion courses for reskilling non-ICT specialists and mobility opportunities for teachers and learners between the 4 countries. Finally, the programme will provide industry-relevant courses, hackathons and employability skills for students and graduates to be job-ready upon graduation. MERIT will then increase the number of digital specialists, reskill individuals and provide upskilling.

The programme will be implemented in four European countries: Spain, Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia, but the Master’s students will be able to address industry challenges at the EU level, with a special focus on countries with a low DESI (Digital Economy and Society) index, such as Romania. The programme will provide students with excellent learning tools (e-learning resources, blended learning approach), as well as identify the market needs and trends that are going to emerge in the next few years. MERIT contributes to the ICT domain by promoting the integration of research aspects to hands-on problems and by supporting the insertion of young people into companies or public organisations.

Who can benefit from the program?

A special focus will be on prioritising underrepresented communities and gender equality in STEM careers. The program will include mentoring and networking opportunities, as well as hands-on experience in labs, companies and public organisations.

This unique program will consolidate Europe’s best minds in cutting-edge technologies for the creation of a highly skilled workforce. It promotes the advanced learning and development of emerging technologies in the field of robotics, automation, the Internet of Things and cybersecurity applications by leading researchers from top European universities and companies.

MERIT is a four-year project (2022-2026) and has a total budget of €12,5 million.

Project co-funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or European Health and Digital Executive Agency (HADEA). Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.

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