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EuRopEAn incubator for trusted and secure data value CHains

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - REACH (EuRopEAn incubator for trusted and secure data value CHains)

Reporting period: 2020-09-01 to 2022-02-28

The large consumer online platforms have shown that data is an asset that directly translates to value, and this value can be multiplied by fusing data shared among stakeholders in a value chain. However, this creation of value which makes possible the Data Economy is profiting today only the so-called GAFAM empire organisations, particularly in B2C scenarios. However, there is ample scope for Europe, there is no standardised digital platform controlling the B2B market. According to European Council conclusions (21-22 March 2019)2: “The EU needs to go further in developing a competitive, secure, inclusive and ethical digital economy with world-class connectivity. Special emphasis should be placed on access to, sharing and use of data, data security and on Artificial Intelligence, in an environment of trust”.

The value of the EU data economy was more than €300 billion in 2016, representing over 1.99% of the EU GDP with a year-on-year growth rate of 5.03%3. Europe is aware of this potential and is making steps towards the Data Economy, by creating a solid base of data-driven companies, data workers and creating awareness in European citizens and companies about the socio-economic benefits of the data economy across a number of sectors such as healthcare and retail. These steps remain however isolated initiatives, and society and industry are yet to reap the benefits of the large-scale deployment of data-based products and services. In particular, success cases of multi-stakeholder value chains where several economic actors create, share and exploit data - the so-called Data Value Chains (DVC) need to be demonstrated. Security and Trust are fundamental preconditions for the data economy. The European data market study has recognized that the EU will protect trust in the data economy by successfully deploying the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), achieving greater harmonization across the EU and reducing the administrative burden on businesses. On the other hand, the removal of regulatory barriers preventing the free flow of data cross-borders is unlikely to have effects before 2019-2020. The support of pilot projects and innovation spaces for experimenting with data innovation is therefore urgent. In personal data innovation, the EU must take its opportunities to stimulate innovation in solutions in sectors of immediate impact to citizens such as healthcare, in full compliance with data protection legislation. It is key to ensure citizens' secure access to and sharing of personal data. In non-personal data innovation, as part of the Digitising European Industry 4.0 initiative, the Commission has already taken action to support industry, among other things by giving financial assistance to industrial data platforms and innovation hubs under the Horizon 2020 programme. As a continuation of these efforts, support for innovation experiments promoting the development of trusted and secure privacy-aware analytics solutions allowing for the secure sharing of proprietary industrial data along with personal data are impending, while facilitating compliance with relevant legislation (such as data protection legislation).

Digital Innovation Hubs (DIH) are the key for overcoming these entry barriers for SMEs. A DIH is an orchestrator of the R&I actors in a specific geographical region that serves as a one-stop shop for SMEs to access services to pursue their digital transformation. DIHs can help in breaking the data silos in European industry, stimulating innovation where value is driven by data sharing, by providing technologies for digital trust, e.g. for compliance with the GDPR regulation. Providing access to public and publicly funded data, as well as providing companies with guidelines and technologies for sharing private sector data. REACH will leverage on the emerging networks of Big Data DIHs to foster the incubation process of datafuelled companies with the aim of bringing to market innovative data-driven products and services in data value chains, pursuing the following impact aims (IA):

● IA1. Contributing to the effort of unlocking the data-driven economy in several sectors such as retail, tourism, manufacturing, finance and insurance, media, healthcare, consumer support, transport, energy, public administration.
● IA2. Making Europe’s technology-/data-driven start-ups among the topmost world players in big data solutions and data-driven services.
● IA3. Developing new data value chains while safeguarding shared trust. We define in our context a “data value chain” as a multi-stakeholder data-driven business model where data is securely exchanged among parties, either persons or organisations, with the aim of creating value for all involved stakeholders. The data lifecycle occurs thus throughout different parties. Data is generated (recording and capturing data), collected (validating and storing it), analysed (processing and analysing the data to generate new insights and knowledge) and exploited (putting the outputs to use, whether internally or by trading them) by different partners. Multi stakeholder heterogenous data needs to be correlated to generate insights.

REACH will create a second-generation Big Data incubator, building on the successful efforts of EDI – European Data Incubator to accelerate data-driven innovation in Europe, towards the vision of the Common European Data Space and developing the European Data Market. As of September 1st 2019, more than 600 SMEs have requested participation in EDI, 70 have accessed the EDI programme to address the needs and challenges of over 20 Data Providers engaged with the program, helping them breaking their Data Silos. Such companies have accessed to EDI’s services including mentorship and access to infrastructures for data-driven applications development and experimentation. The 30 companies that took part in cohort 1 received 1.5M € on equity-free funding to finance their innovations and managed to raise 2.5 M€ of private funds investment. Currently, in cohort 2, 40 additional companies are involved.
The REACH project carried out the first incubation round. 32 SMEs were selected to enter the EXPLORE phase of the incubation funnel. During this first stage, the SMEs benefited from a dozen webinars covering various technical and financial aspects, particularly concerning the attraction of investors. This phase, which lasted 2 months, ended with a datathon to evaluate the mock-ups and business plans to promote 10 SMEs to the EXPERIMENT stage. During the second stage, the SMEs benefited from personalized support provided by coaches. Training sessions for the use of the technical means offered by the REACH consortium were organized remotely. This phase ended after 4 months with a Datathon to select 5 SMEs {CYC, CROPT, Greenlytics, HOPU, Tsenso} for support in attracting investors during the 3 months EVOLVE stage. The REACH project transferred to the 32 SMEs of the first incubation round a total amount of €1,174,465, including €99,465 in the form of mission vouchers to participate in commercial events.
The 10 SMEs having reached EXPERIMENT {Tsenso, Trust-Mark, Smart-city, BigDA, Bettegry, CYC, CROPT, Greenlytics, HOPU, HUPI} have improve their product by integrating new technical practices and attracted investment. At the end of the incubation phase, these companies were able to attract 63 investors for a total realized amount of 1,010,716 € from 6,478,633 € investment sum sought.