The Digital Innovation Valley - at the core of Mons 2015
It began when Google selected Mons as the base for its European data centre, investing some €450 million. This generated enough buzz to attract enterprises such as Microsoft, rapidly creating a mini Silicon Valley in Mons. Today, more than a hundred such firms are installed here, all involved in digital innovation, some of which are leaders in their field in Europe and around the world, totalling a thousand direct high-technology jobs.
This has resulted in remarkable economic and commercial growth for this midsized city. This development has also led to a unique project to bring the city’s population up to speed in terms of all things digital, thanks to the TechnocITé lifelong training centre which offers 300 courses to 5,000 people annually. As a result, entrepreneurs in the region are able to hire staff locally, at the same time giving the opportunity to the younger generation to look forward to a career in the digital domain right here on their doorstep.
Where technology meets culture… has thus become one of first gambles of the future European Capital of Culture.
The goal is not technology for its own sake. The goal is to break the digital barriers between different generations and social classes. We want to create a bond between them, boost empowerment and invent new artistic and economic models. Starting in 2005 and intensifying toward 2015, breakthrough pilot projects such as MEDIA DJ, Mons Street ReView and Café Europa are helping to change our understanding and use of the new technologies.
A real social and cultural lever, the digital world, as Mons 2015 sees it, stimulates questions on our European identity, digital identity and the role of the creative industries, which can only thrive through a myriad of partnerships, be they local, regional, national or even international, and new associated governance. This myriad of partnerships is reflected in the creation of Café Europa, a real network of connected European cultural capitals, united under the hashtags #CaféEuropa.
Digital technologies open a wide range of possibilities. They give a new meaning to invention and entrepreneurship.