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Shaping the economy of digital data: “Data-driven incubators” in the European Big Data Value Forum

Data-driven incubators

EUHubs4Data, Media Futures and Reach Incubator are the projects in which Zabala Innovation is involved that share synergies in the session “Data-driven incubators” held in the framework of the European Big Data Value EBDV Forum held in Prague, the yearly flagship event of the Big Data Value Association (BDVA). The EBDV Forum brings together industry professionals, business developers, researchers and policymakers from all over Europe and other regions of the world to advance policy actions, as well as industrial and research activities in the areas of Data and AI.

The EUHubs4Data project organized and moderated the session, in which also took part the i4Trust project leaded by the FIWARE Foundation. These projects started in 2020, sharing a common general objective, to foster Data-Driven innovation among the startups and SMEs to break “data silos” in Europe and in the regional ecosystems, each project addressing this objective from different perspectives. Zabala Innovation also leads the open calls of Reach and Media Futures with its own methodology of cascade funding.

The session had the presence and participation of Kimmo Rossi Head of Sector “Research and Innovation Execution in the DVC (Data Value Chain)” DG CONNECT and Project Officer of EUHubs4Data. Rossi highlighted how the EC established the Open Calls focused on incubators and accelerators mentioning the FIWARE Finodex accelerator, coordinated by Zabala Innovation, as the beginning of these successful instruments to boost the digital transition with data in Europe.

During the panel, the participants discussed about the future and how all these projects can collaborate after funding phase, identifying some exploitable results of their projects, and exploring possible avenues of collaboration among other projects to support their respective sustainability strategies.

Daniel Alonso, moderator of the session and coordinator of EUHubs4Data highlighted the BDVA i-Spaces and the EUHubs4Data federation as an interface between the data spaces & HPC communities during the session How HPC can boost sustainable development and strengthen competitiveness for Industry and SME. The discussion was focused on how we can reach out to new users so that many more can benefit from the investments that are made and the ones that are coming. Also, possible alignments between i-Spaces / EUHubs4Data and the HPC community were discussed.

Susana Garayoa, from Zabala Innovation, was the speaker in charge of presenting the results, lessons learnt and sustainability of the Reach Incubator project, coinciding with the day that the project opened its third Open Call. The Reach Incubator is looking for 30 big data startups and SMEs to participate in its third incubation round. The European project has a €3.5 Million fund to foster the creation of data value chains across Europe and is looking for 30 promising big data startups and SMEs to take part in its third round of incubation. This latest call offers up to 120,000 euros in funding and the opportunity to work with leading companies and their private data.

Gerrit Rosam was present representing Media Futures, which seeks to create a European data-driven innovation centre that brings together entrepreneurs, artists and other stakeholders in the media value chain to develop a programme that expands on the usual models, and thus find new ways for people to engage in quality journalism, scientific education and democratic processes.

And Juanjo Hierro was there by i4Trust, which is building a sustainable ecosystem where companies will be able to create innovative services by means of breaking “data silos” through sharing, re-using and trading of data assets.

Other of the key ideas pointed out during the session by the speakers were the following:

  • Reinforce the Digital Innovation Hubs network and its sustainability as incubators and boost the Open Innovation culture, key for the digital transformation and data market in Europe
  • Take decisions by the policy makers to promote concrete and common standards.
  • Solve questions concerning the privacy of users and the fight against disinformation.

Our contribution through the Cascade Funding system

Cascade funding is a financial instrument that has been gaining relevance and presence in the European funding landscape and represents a determining factor to foster and strengthen innovation ecosystems in Europe.

This type of competitive calls for proposals, also known as Financial Support for Third Parties (FSTP), have become the perfect mechanism for the European Commission to distribute public funds in an agile way and make them reach a segment of the European innovation ecosystem that usually has certain difficulties in accessing funding. These are mainly SMEs, midcaps and start-ups that, through Cascading Finance, accelerate the arrival of disruptive technologies to the market and their subsequent adoption by the end user.

Our references in Cascading Finance

Zabala Innovation participates in this type of FSTP projects to be an intermediary organisation between the European Commission and the third parties that finally receive the grants. In collaboration with other partners, we receive a relevant amount of money to provide financial support to the selected third parties, as well as a package of support services for their technical progress, business development, promotion and soft skills acquisition.

We accumulated experience in 14 programmes under the FSTP scheme (6 projects already closed), contributing to the distribution of more than €35 million since 2014 to support more than 1,000 beneficiaries.

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