July 29, 2021

More Funding for Data Spaces Promised

The data economy will play a key role in Europe’s economic well-being in the future. This view is also shared by political decision-makers. At the IDSA Summit, Anja Karliczek, the German Federal Minister of Education and Research, and Mathieu Weill, Head of Digital Department of the French Ministry of Economy, emphasized how important secure and trustworthy cross-organizational sharing and exchange of data will be for European (business and non-profit) organizations, citizens, and public authorities. Both speakers accordingly promised to advocate more public funding to further promote the establishment of European data spaces in all economic sectors.

“Data sovereignty is a key capability in the era of digital transformation“, Federal Minister Anja Karliczek said in her speech, pointing out the importance of establishing technical, operational and legal standards to ensure trust and security among all actors in the data economy. To illustrate her point, she chose an analogy from the analog world: family businesses, like confectioneries or bakeries, where secret recipes are passed on from one generation to the next only by word of mouth. While trying to protect their know-how and expertise against access from outside, these businesses rely on certain ingredients and materials, which they receive from various suppliers. Consequently, these suppliers know what is required for the secret recipes – but they don’t get to see any information that goes beyond that, such as quantity proportions, modes of preparation, oven temperatures, and so on.

“Sharing and exchanging data in the data economy is quite similar to that example”, Karliczek went on to say. In the era of digitalization, the “ingredients” are available as data, which is stored in systems all over the world. In many business or other settings, data must be shared or exchanged between systems in order to do business successfully or meet other purposes efficiently. The critical point is that each actor involved in such a transaction wants to be sure that its data is used by another party only for the intended purpose or as otherwise specified, and that no sensitive information is revealed during that process. “For data to be shared and exchanged between parties in a secure and trustworthy fashion, IDSA provides the conceptual foundation and technical infrastructure. This creates trust among all parties involved, which is necessary to enter the next phase of European knowledge and technology transfer,” Karliczek concluded her speech.

Mathieu Weill from the French Ministry of Economy in his speech stressed the importance of the Gaia-X project for promoting the European data economy. What at the beginning appeared to be a very ambitious endeavor initiated by Germany and France has meanwhile turned into a multilateral project comprising seven European countries. “Within just one and a half years, Gaia-X has reached a stage where it can demonstrate exemplarily to Europe and the rest of the world what the data economy is all about. We are now at a point where suppliers and consumers can determine what the future of the European data economy should look like“, Weill said.

“Europe should assume a leading role in the data economy”, Weill demanded, pointing out that a number of European data space projects had already been established, like in the energy or the agriculture sector, and that in France alone fourteen working groups were currently dealing with the topic.

Nonetheless, both speakers made it clear that there is still a lot of work ahead, both in research and in terms of establishing the infrastructure necessary for operating and using data spaces. In view of these challenges, both underlined that they would advocate more public funding to further promote the establishment of European data spaces in all economic sectors.

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