Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


I3H — Result In Brief

Project ID: 632860
Funded under: FP7-ICT
Country: Belgium
Domain: Information and communication technology

Innovation hubs boost open source digital economy

EU-funded innovation hubs have accelerated the take-up of FIWARE as an open source platform for new internet services and applications
Innovation hubs boost open source digital economy
Public institutions across Europe still rely heavily on commercial software and cloud services and this dependence will grow as digital systems increase in size and connectivity, extending to the Internet of Things and smart cities. Often data is ‘locked in’ to proprietorial file formats, whilst commercial software and applications are deliberately designed to be incompatible with open source and other companies’ software, requiring costly proprietary updates.

The European Commission launched the EUR 300 million Future Internet Public Private Partnership in 2011, which developed FIWARE as an independent, open source, royalty-free future cloud platform for smart cities, digital health and other projects.

By switching to open source platforms, public departments and SMEs can save money on commercial software license fees, increase the security of citizens’ data and be less reliant on the often-delayed security solutions of big corporations.

The switch to FIWARE requires considerable investment to enable people and companies to operate and create new services based on the platform as part of an open source digital economy.

Digital hubs

The EU-funded I3H project coordinated by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) in Brussels created and incubated 13 FIWARE-compatible internet innovation hubs.

‘The hubs have been established all over Europe. We are making them ‘FIWARE aware’ so that they can comply with the basic requirements of the FIWARE open source platform,’ says Fabio Pianesi, research director at EIT-Digital. They include hubs in Slovenia, Lithuania, Romania, Estonia, Poland, Luxembourg, France and Portugal, as well as Germany and Austria.

At the start of the three-year project, an open call led to some 100 applications from companies and regional clusters from around Europe. Key among the requirements was that candidate hubs should have a physical location ‘and could demonstrate the ability to impact on their local innovation ecosystem,’ which included SMEs, researchers, web developers and universities, Mr Pianesi says.

The I3H project ‘helped them to become crucial enablers of the transformation of FIWARE into innovative services and applications. We did so through a stage-gating process: at each stage those that did not pass it were dropped. The thirteen of them arrived at the end, which we have grown into an integral part of the FIWARE world and community,’ he says.

The innovation hubs now act as ‘middlemen’ for web developers, entrepreneurs and investors. ‘In the open source world a lot of software thrives because of the development put in by a dedicated community of developers often working alone,’ says Mr Pianesi.

Global reach

The hubs will also be connected as a network, including through the FIWARE Foundation in Berlin, helping them to scale up within Europe and introducing them to contacts in wider communities and in the United States. FIWARE has spread beyond Europe to countries in Latin America, including Argentina and Brazil, and to Asia – with Japan’s NEC joining the FIWARE Foundation.

More than 22 countries have committed to digitisation services for their citizens based on FIWARE, says Ulrich Ahle, CEO of the FIWARE Foundation. He describes FIWARE as an ‘enabler of the EU’s digital single market’. For example, Internet of Things ‘platforms can only be sustainable when it is accepted and adapted on a global scale,’ says Mr Ahle.


I3H, ICT, Fiware, open source, software, cloud computing, Internet of Things, digital economy
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