01 Mar 2021

EU Industry Days: Data for Green and Recovery

Key takeaways

On 25 February, DIGITALEUROPE’s Digital Manufacturing Executive Council dug deep on how data will deliver on both the green deal targets and recovery. They were joined by Fernanda Ferreira Dias, Director General at the Ministry of Economy – Directorate General for Economic Activities – in Portugal, Bulgarian entrepreneur Rado Russev, Co-founder of Hydrolia AD, and Åsa Fasth Berglund, Professor of Smart Automation, Chalmers University of Technology.

Europe faces unprecedented fragmentation, trade limitations for data, and risks protectionist measure that can overturn any promise of recovery & resilience.

That is why DIGITALEUROPE talks tough in its response to the European Commission’s questionnaire on the update to the EU’s Industrial Strategy

Fernanda Ferreira Dias, Director General at Ministry of Economy - Directorate General for Economic Activities, Portugal

“It is important that the European Commission has an overview of what Member States are doing regarding the EU Industrial Strategy; there should be a monitoring mechanism to track progress on its implementation”

Polling the audience: we need interoperability and digital ambition

Alain Dedieu, DMEC Chair and President Water and Wastewater segment at Schneider Electric

”If we have to drive the stimulus to the right place, we should base that on real returns on investment. Sharing data should not cut down competitiveness”

All present agreed on the urgency and criticality of a digital-oriented EU Industrial Strategy. Moderator Ray Pinto, Digital Transformation Policy Director at DIGITALEUROPE, concluded that: “It is not only about cutting waste and resources, but it is just as much about getting important products to the market faster, such as medical products. Data is key for sustainability and recovery, for instance by investing in the digital transformation of water management.”

Our aim as Digital Manufacturing Executive Council is to be able to develop first the trust and to leverage collaboration. Start-ups are a great add-on to challenge the established companies. But, for digital, scale matters

Read here DIGITALEUROPE’s use case on digital in water management: preventing 30% of the world’s most precious resource from being lost.

Read here our recommendations for preparing Europe’s industry for the “new normal” and the industrial data economy

  • Industrial data-sharing barriers in the EU
Francesca Tagliani, DMEC Vice Chair and Director Global Distribution Partnership at Rockwell Automation

“There should be a balance between control and innovation-impeding restrictions – B2B data is not personal data, after all”

Fernanda Ferreira Dias noted that “It is important that the European Commission has an overview of what Member States are doing,” adding that ”the EU Industrial Strategy should have a monitoring mechanism to track progress on its implementation.” The Portuguese Director General emphasised the importance of collaboration, linking this to Professor Åsa Fasth Berglund’s initiative where SMEs can use a sandbox environment to attain a “proof of concept” so they can better market themselves.

Francesca Tagliani responded to concerns that security would be a barrier to better cooperation and integration of the EU’s fragmented industrial data landscape. She stressed that “sharing data securely is of key importance, and that is why we need a clear, open and secure way to exchange data, to utilise industrial data.

Listening to these concerns, the DMEC chairs agreed that more encouragement and safeguards are needed to inspire companies to collaborate. Alain Dedieu painted a picture of the future, where soon trillions of devices will be connected –  more than there are people in the world. To unlock the potential of this massive scale, we are working on standardisation, which is part of multilateral activity in order to be more robust and resilient in the digital wave we are experiencing in industry. Dedieu added that, in the end, “if we have to drive the stimulus to the right place, we should base that on real returns on investment.” Sharing data should not cut down competitiveness.

To this end, Francesca Tagliani reminded us that when data becomes important, there will be additional services linked to it, which will require a business model, adding that “sharing information between different actors can make products smarter for the future. If this is done right, everyone will gain, the producer and the end user.”

  • Water management shows the power of digital

Alain Dedieu introduced water as “a segment which is not seen as very innovative; however, this is a place which is dealing with one of the most important materials in the world. It is needed for life and for industry.” Digital is essential in getting a real assessment of the energy used, which is an urgent need because close to 30% of the water that is being treated is lost in the pipes in Europe.”

  • European projects as enablers

The European federated data infrastructure project GAIA-X[1] became central to the discussion because providing the solution to scale can make the difference.

However, Francesca Tagliani argued that this will depend completely on “making companies willing to operate in such an environment by leveraging its user friendliness, it should not impose burdensome requirements.” Fernanda Ferreira Dias highlighted European projects, like Digital Innovation Hubs and Clusters, Important Projects of Common European Interest as critical for Europe to reinforce its leadership position in the world. From a national perspective, Rado Russev, co-founder of Hydrolia AD, argued that we should “make sure to build on the competitive advantage of the countries” and “integrate in the supply chains of Europe, particularly the ones that are changing.”

Alain Dedieu reinforced that, indeed, “we should be proud of our European industry, network and ecosystem; we have to make our European region attractive for investment, innovation and business – digital is going to be the main lever to move to the next phase

DIGITALEUROPE provides an opportunity for traditional verticals to cooperate closely with the digital technology industry under the umbrella of our association. This diversity results in invaluable insights and expertise being shared between the industry peers. Our growing Digital Manufacturing Executive Council brings together cloud and ICT service providers, industrial equiptment providers, end-users of digital technology and 5G technology vendors, building up traction as a unique policy platform.

  • Digital literacy, skills and entrepreneurship
Fernanda Ferreira Dias, Director General at Ministry of Economy - Directorate General for Economic Activities, Portugal

”It is important that the European Commission has an overview of what Member States are doing regarding the EU Industrial Strategy; there should be a monitoring mechanism to track progress on its implementation”

Professor Åsa Farsth Berglund made it clear that ”learning by doing is the best way. When you see what is possible, you can go home and see its possible for your company as well”, and that ”the younger generation has high digital competence but not necessarily digital literacy. We need to educate young and old people in a different manner.” To do this, ”we need the money and time to build hubs for competency and information sharing.”

However, Francesca Tagliani argues that ”we have a limited timeframe to create our success, we need to be fast. Now, lifelong education is left to companies to address, we should instead look at investment to help senior workers to upskill.” Importantly, ”we need a diverse set of talent to engage in this industry; we need to make men and women aware that this industry is an exciting environment to work in. Here you are making the future, it is a cool place to be!


In conclusion

Alain Dedieu concluded by placing the discussion in a generational perspective; placing digital at the core of Europe’s industrial future. “Digital is the only way to manage the transition between generations because through digital transformation we can replace the workforce that is aiming for a well-deserved retirement.” Europe should make the most of the unprecedented opportunity form the recovery funds and tackle fragmentation and trade limitations for data, and steer clear of protectionist measures that can overturn any promise of recovery & resilience.

Ray Pinto closed the panel emphasising that EU resilience can only be achieved through open markets. Autonomy will merely cripple European businesses looking to expand or who are currently prospering globally. Data also needs to be able to flow throughout the Single Market and beyond. More work needs to be done to make digital central to funding and considered as the enabling mechanism for a green recovery.


[1] DIGITALEUROPE is a day-one member of GAIA-X

For more information, please contact:
Ray Pinto
Senior Director for Digital Transformation Policy
Vincenzo Renda
Director for Single Market & Digital Competitiveness
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