Big data’s Brussels boost

Nieuws | de redactie
13 oktober 2014 | Europe will invest €2.5 billion in the development and application of ‘big data’ “the motor and foundation of the future economy. Every kind of organisation needs the building blocks to boost their performance, from farm to factory, from the lab to the shop floor,” Neelie Kroes says.

In one of her last major initiatives as EU-Commissioner the unstoppable Kroes – read her farewell-interview with ScienceGuide here – has forged an alliance with keypleyers in industry and academia to give big data in Europe a boost. Her motive is clear: every single minute, the world generates 1.7 million billion bytes of data, equal to 360,000 DVDs. This works out at over 6 megabytes of data for each person every day. This information comes from many different sources like satellite imagery, digital pictures and videos, transaction records or GPS signals. As a result, the data sector is growing by 40% per year, 7 times quicker than the overall information and communications market.

100.000 jobs

Mastering big data could mean for the EU:

  • up to 30% of the global data market for European suppliers;
  • 100,000 new data-related jobs in Europe by 2020;
  • 10% lower energy consumption, better health-care outcomes and more productive industrial machinery. 

The European Commission and Europe’s data industry now have committed to invest €2.5 billion in a public-private partnership (PPP) that aims to strengthen the data sector and put Europe at the forefront of the global data race. A Memorandum of Understanding to set up the PPP on big data will be signed today by Kroes and Big Data Value Association predisent Jan Sundelin, who acts on behalf of companies including ATOS, Nokia Solutions and Networks, Orange, SAP, SIEMENS, and research bodies such as Fraunhofer and the German Research Centre for Artificial Intelligence. 

Game-changing ideas 

The EU has earmarked over €500 million of investment over 5 years (2016-2020) from Horizon 2020 which private partners are expected to match at least four times over (€2 billion). The PPP will help focus public, private and academic research efforts to support research and innovation in game-changing big data ideas in fields such as energy, manufacturing and health to deliver services like personalised medicine, food logistics and predictive analytics. By implementing its Strategic Research & Innovation Agenda and concentrating Horizon 2020 support on common priorities, the PPP will strengthen Europe’s big data community and help lay the foundations for the thriving data-driven economy of the future. 

The PPP will also support “Innovation Spaces” that will offer secure environments for experimenting with both private and open data. These will also act as business incubators and hubs for the development of skills and best practices. The PPP, due to start on 1 January 2015, is one of the first outcomes of the European Commission’s recent policy and action plan accelerate the development of Europe’s data-driven economy. 

Productivity and challenges

Businesses that build their decision-making processes on knowledge generated from data see a 5-6% increase in productivity. Big data is already helping us speed up the diagnosis of brain injuries, or forecast crop yields in developing countries. Global big data technology and services will create hundreds of thousands of new jobs in the coming years. 

While big data presents great opportunities, it is also challenging: today’s datasets are so huge and complex to process that they require new ideas, tools and infrastructures. It also requires the right legal framework, systems and technical solutions to ensure that ensure privacy and security.

The Data PPP complements eight existing Public-Private Partnerships under Horizon 2020, for example on Photonics, Robotics, High Performance Computing, Advanced 5G networks for the Future Internet and Factories of the Future. These all address strategic technologies that will underpin growth and jobs in key sectors of a knowledge-based European economy, while targeting significant societal challenges. 

The Data PPP is a partnership between the European Commission and the Big Data Value Association, a non-profit, industry-led organisation whose members include ATC, IT Innovation, IBM, SINTEF, University of Bologna (CINI), Polytechnical University of Madrid, NOKIA Solutions and Networks, THALES, University of Duisburg Essen, Siemens, SAP, Engineering, TIE Kintetx, ANSWARE, Software AG, Orange, Atos, INDRA, ITI, VTT, Fraunhofer, DERI, and the Technical University of Berlin. The association is open for additional companies and research organisations to join.

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