On 31 March, Luxembourg’s Gaia-X Regional Hub hosted a special conference to discuss the ambitions and milestones of the pan-European data infrastructure initiative.
If there is one thing that everyone seems to agree on, as repeated by Hubert Tardieu, chairman of Gaia-X association, it’s “that data is the oil of today”.
While few doubt this statement, our current overdependence on international cloud infrastructure services puts Europe in an uncomfortable position. With data creation rising year by year – forecasts suggest we’ll be hitting 175 ZB (1 ZB = 1 trillion GB) by 2025 – it is strategically important for Europe to become more autonomous.
A federated and secure European data infrastructure would alleviate our dependency and allow us to pursue strategic autonomy, which, as Sasha Baillie, CEO of Luxinnovation put it, is “the ability of a state to pursue its interests without being dependent on a foreign state.”
With data becoming the most valuable resource of the next century, it is vital that Luxembourg and Europe pursue the objectives of the Gaia-X initiative.
“Gaia-X is a way to meet the concerns of SMEs that want to maintain control of their data.”
New Business Opportunities
While the big picture concerns of Gaia-X are about ‘strategic autonomy’ and ‘European data sovereignty,’ businesses stand to benefit from joining the initiative too.
“Gaia-X is a way to meet the concerns of SMEs that want to maintain control of their data,” says Sasha Baillie. Companies active in data storage and analysis will have to migrate to cloud-based solutions to stay ahead of the competition, as these ensure more flexibility, access to real-time data and increased speed.
Europe’s current overreliance on international cloud service providers is “a huge hurdle that holds back many companies – especially those dealing with sensitive data,” says Sasha Baillie.
“The ambition is to involve all European stakeholders concerned in gathering and developing the common requirements for a federated, secure and sovereign European data infrastructure. Centralised and decentralised infrastructures need to be connected in order to become one homogenous and user-friendly system where data can be accessed and shared securely and confidently,” Sasha Baillie explains.
Luxembourg Stays Ahead
Already in 2019, Luxembourg put digital connectivity at the heart of its strategy. Built on the three pillars of continued investments in infrastructure, building the right know-how and ensuring a good regulatory environment, the strategy has already borne fruit.
According to the Digital Economy and Society Index, Luxembourg ranks 8th in Europe and is doing especially well in terms of connectivity and human capital, both of which are essential to consolidate our position as a digital leader.
Over the next years, the government has put aside €25 million to invest in national or European level Gaia-X related projects. Sasha Baillie urges any businesses interested in this topic to join “the thematic Gaia-X working groups in order to identify use cases and align on common standards.”
For a full overview of topics discussed at the conference, check out the recorded event.