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Towards a thriving data-driven economy

In July 2014, the Commission outlined a new strategy on Big Data, supporting and accelerating the transition towards a data-driven economy in Europe. The data-driven economy will stimulate research and innovation on data while leading to more business opportunities and an increased availability of knowledge and capital, in particular for SMEs, across Europe.

According to the study "Worldwide Big Data Technology and Services, 2012–2015 Forecast" conducted by IDC, big data technology and services are expected to grow worldwide at a compound annual growth rate of 40% – about seven times that of the ICT market overall.

Another recent study on "Big Data Analytics: An assessment of demand for labour and skills, 2012-2017", conducted by e-skills uk and SAS, predicts that in the UK alone, the number of big data staff specialist working in large firms will increase by more than 240% over the next five years.

This global trend holds enormous potential in various fields, ranging from health, food security, climate and resource efficiency to energy, intelligent transport systems and smart cities, which Europe cannot afford to miss.

To be able to seize these opportunities and compete globally in the data economy, the EU will:

  • support "lighthouse" data initiatives capable of improving competitiveness, quality of public services and  citizen's life
  • develop enabling technologies, underlying infrastructures and skills, particularly to the benefit of SMEs
  • extensively share, use and develop its public data resources and research data infrastructures
  • focus public R&I on technological, legal and other bottlenecks
  • make sure that the relevant legal framework and the policies are data-friendly
  • accelerate the digitisation of public administration and services to increase their efficiency, and
  • use public procurement to bring the results of data technologies to the market.

The strategy outlined above will rely on a coordinated action plan involving Member States and the EU so as to guarantee the necessary scope and scale of the activities. The envisaged actions will result in:

  • accelerated innovation,
  • productivity growth, and
  • increased competitiveness in data across the whole economy, as well as on the global market with Europe as a key player.

The current strategy builds upon the ideas first formulated by Commission Vice-President Neelie Kroes in a strategic initiative on the data value chain, which was launched in the ICT2013 conference in Vilnius in November 2013. This initiative focused on nurturing a coherent European data ecosystem that will stimulate research and innovation around data and the uptake of data services and products.

Both initiatives are fully aligned with other related European strategies, like Open Data, Cloud Computing, High-Performance Computing and access to scientific data.

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