Data security AI Strategy Cloud Digital Transformation Data analysis Data storage

Est. reading time: 4 minutes
Author: Ruth Kearney

Data in manufacturing could have a net benefit of €1.5 trillion by 2027 so the European Digital Strategy needs to help realise that benefit. The strategy will help make common data spaces available and support cloud infrastructures to assist manufacturers.

Ruth Kearney

Ruth is focused on driving the commercial path at Nightingale HQ, reaching out to manufacturers to share the GoSmarter toolkit, and driving awareness …


In February 2020 the European Commission presented its “Digital Strategy”. This outlined its approach to promoting the single market and data sovereignty. The aim being to ensure European competitiveness. They presented the data strategy at the same time as the Commission’s White Paper on Artificial Intelligence. We wrote an article on how the AI Act is going.

The strategy provides a vision for common data spaces to help businesses share resources. It aims to improve industry infrastructure to keep Europe at the top of tech innovation.

Data and manufacturing

Industry 4.0 and other major trends such as servitisation are fueling a data revolution within the manufacturing sector. Those who are not adopting new technologies risk being left behind.

Increased digitisation in the sector leads to an increased volume of both industrial data (IoT data created in industrial settings) and public data being stored and processed. Deloitte has estimated that the potential value of the use of non-personal data in manufacturing will be €1,5 trillion by 2027.

We know from our work with manufacturers that data is fueling the implementation of transformative practices. Digital twins for example, can help manufacturers predict when a machine will fail, increasing productivity.

The availability of data is also essential for training AI systems. Products and services are rapidly moving from pattern recognition and insight generation to more sophisticated forecasting techniques and, thus, better decisions.

This use of data requires the creation of data spaces in the manufacturing sector so that data can be shared between companies. This will be based upon previous data-sharing agreements and will increase the development of data-intensive applications and artificial intelligence systems.

Role of cloud

The commission aims to focus on increasing cloud uptake to make Europe more competitive in the global market. A slow uptake in cloud in Europe has left us overly dependent on external providers.

To fix this issue businesses need to start using cloud over centralised computing facilities.

Currently, 80% of the processing and analysis of data takes place in data centres and centralised computing facilities. Only 20% is using ‘edge computing’ (computing facilities close to the user). Over the next 5 years, this number is expected to be inverted.

Achieving these goals

In the period 2021-2027, the Commission will invest €2 billion in a High Impact Project on European data spaces and federated cloud infrastructures.

The project will fund infrastructure, data-sharing tools, architectures and governance mechanisms. Their aim is to build a thriving data-sharing and Artificial Intelligence ecosystem.

It will address the specific needs of industries in the EU. These needs include hybrid cloud deployment models that allow data processing at the edge with no latency (cloud-to-edge). This project will involve and benefit the European ecosystem of data-intensive companies. This in turn will support European companies and the public sector in their digital transformation.

This project will coincide with the digital elements of the Commission’s industrial strategy from March 2020.

Now what?

The EU Commission organised several workshops dedicated to discussing what can be done to implement data spaces. One webinar took place on 23 November 2020. Experts, companies, business associations and public authorities took part in this online workshop. They discussed the current state of play in data spaces for manufacturing. Europe’s current guidance on private-sector data sharing is available on the European Commission website.

In the State of the Union Address in September 2020, President von der Leyen announced that Europe should secure digital sovereignty by 2030. The strategy set out a programme of policy reform. This has started already with the Data Governance Act, the Digital Services Act, the Digital Markets Act and the Cybersecurity Strategy.

The 2030 Digital compass released in March 2021 gives more detail on technology improvements in manufacturing in the coming decade.

To address the issue of data security the Commission has committed to releasing a wider Data Act at the end of this year. The Inception Impact Assessments for this act were published in May.

Further reading