The European Commission and Europe’s data industry have committed to invest €2.5bn (£2bn) in a public-private partnership focusing on development of big data applications to improve energy efficiency, health care and industrial processes.
A Memorandum of Understanding, laying down the framework for the public-private partnership (PPP), was signed today by European Commission Vice President Neelie Kroes and President of the Big Data Value Association, 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.
The EU has earmarked over €500m of investment from the Horizon 2020 research programme to be allocated over a five-year period between 2016 and 2020 to big data research. The private partners are expected to provide the additional €2bn.
"Data is 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," Kroes said.
The PPP hopes to contribute to the creation of up to 100,000 new data-related jobs in Europe by 2020 and facilitate development of personalised big-data applications to improve efficiency of various industries including health care, food logistics, manufacturing and energy.
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 to accelerate the development of Europe's data-driven economy.
The big data sector has been growing at a staggering 40 per cent rate in the past years, which is seven times faster than the overall information and communications market.
Businesses that base their decision-making processes on knowledge generated from big data analysis have reported a 5 to 6 per cent increase in productivity.
The relatively new field presents not only opportunities but also multiple challenges as analysing enormous data sets requires developing new processes and tools.
The Data PPP is one of nine key strategic public-private partnerships funded under the Horizon 2020 research programme, focusing on innovative technologies identified for their potential to address key societal challenges and create highly skilled job opportunities.
The public-private partnerships funded under the Horizon 2020 research programme cover areas such as photonics, robotics, high performance computing, advanced 5G networks for the future internet and factories of the future.