December 1, 2022

IDS Certification Award candidates: TNO – “You can’t rely on assumptions”

IDSA has selected six candidates to apply for the certification of their connector, each of them will be featured in a blog. Today we introduce TNO, our second candidate for IDS Certification. Maarten Kollenstart, who is part of the Data Ecosystems department at TNO in the Netherlands, described their involvement in data spaces, their data connector and why IDS is crucial for them.

IDS Certification ensures that data connectors are built the way they should be. The beauty is that participants in a data space don’t need to assess the trustworthiness of every other actor in that ecosystem. They can simply trust the standards that those other organizations are expected to adhere to.

Applied research for helping SMEs

TNO bridges the gap between academic research and business across a broad spectrum from healthcare to defense – it provides applied research. The data connector they are seeking to certify, the TNO Security Gateway, is designed to especially help smaller companies that don’t yet have the (wo)manpower and the extensive knowledge to develop their own solutions. TNO’s mission is to accelerate the participation of Dutch and other European SMEs in data spaces.

Recently, the TNO Security Gateway (TSG: was made available as open source, which allows anybody to use it as a suitable starting point. It has been successfully carried out in the smart industry domain in the SCSN (Smart Connected Supplier Network), where SMEs are using the TSG to securely exchange supply chain information.

“Next to the smart industry domain, we’ve also gained experience in the health, energy, and logistics domains. Furthermore, we also did for the first-time engineering of sovereignty in the defense domain in collaboration with NGOs”. Not only transactional data sharing research is carried out, but Maarten also mentions “an example I’m proud of is the use of federated learning where an infrastructure is created to securely train an AI model without sharing the actual data”. This is all based around the TSG as an essential component to build trust.

Removing silos for good

“The primary goal of most of what we do is to remove the silos,” says Maarten. If you want to break the silos, it is essential to have a fair data economy. To simplify data sharing and to use the four fair principles – findable, accessible, interoperable, reusable – provides a clear incentive for companies to participate.

In the beginning when you create a data space you often have a small set of participants. Communication is easy. But when you scale up, especially if you want to share data between different data spaces, even different types of data spaces, then “you can’t rely on assumptions” about the participants and conditions emphasizes Maarten. You need a more reliable foundation.

Certification as the basis for reliability

That is why certification is so important. It builds trust. “Someone else than the maker of it has looked at it.” On top it validates “what we have built and all the research we did and that it is now suitable for actual use by companies”, Maarten concludes. The certification label will also help TNO in the future when the connector is used in newly created projects. This certified basic component is a good platform to start with.

The next step is to work with SQS as an evaluation facility, to start the actual certification process. Maarten is optimistic: “We hope to start the evaluation process early 2023.” We will follow the certification process closely and will report on any progress here.

To learn more about the IDS Certification Award candidates, visit our blog:

IDS Certification Award Candidates: Tech2B – “We don’t want a winner-takes-all platform!” – International Data Spaces

Stay updated with us