European Commission Launches €2.5 Billion Partnership to Master Big Data


The European Commission is going all in on big data by partnering with players in the industry to support a pan-European initiative. The public-private-partnership will focus on creating jobs, lowering consumption and improving healthcare outcomes through big data. The plan is notable as a potential model for similar efforts in the US.

European Commission Vice President Neelie Kroes and President of the Big Data Value Association, Jan Sundelin have signed a memorandum of understanding to launch the effort. The EU has earmarked over €500 million of investment over 5 years. Private partners are expected to match the investment at least four times over (€2 billion).

The Big Data Value Association is a non-profit, industry-led organization whose members include IBM, NOKIA Solutions and Networks, Siemens, SAP, and research institutions such as the Technical University of Berlin.

The PPP will officially start on January 1, 2015, and is part of a broader European directive to build a data-driven economy. As CivSource reported last week, Canada is also undertaking a national effort around opening government data and creating a data-driven culture within government. That effort also calls for partnerships with private sector developers to foster commercialization of government data.

Here in the US, President Obama has directed some federal agencies to open up more of their data, and some states are working to build their own big data economies, although these initiatives are separate and scattered. Many of the big data offerings available on the market today come from Big IT, and are part of broad and expensive analytics platforms. In many cases federal agencies, state and local governments are accessing these platforms through vendor relationships rather than PPP’s, creating a scenario more focused on vendor profits than economic development or service delivery improvements. Cities and states considering new efforts may be able to draw ideas from the partnership plans adopted elsewhere.

The European PPP is designed to focus public, private and academic organizations on supporting research and innovation in fields such as energy, manufacturing and health to deliver services like personalized medicine, food logistics and predictive analytics by leveraging big data. 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.