i4Trust: funding and technological innovation for data sharing

Data dimension is the protagonist of the digital transformation process underway in Europe and globally. More and more the digital economy is focused on data, mainly thanks to the diffusion of technologies founded on the use of data: Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence, Cloud, Industry 4.0 Technologies, Automation and much more. Data becomes an important tool for economies and society once it is made accessible and shared: you have the opportunity to act to stimulate economic growth, make decision-making processes more effective and transparent, and work towards an increasingly inclusive society.

From these assumptions comes the i4Trust project, which aims to create new ways of accessing and sharing data in an attempt to develop innovative services that focus on the value of data. The project is funded by the European Union through the Framework Program for Research and Innovation – Horizon 2020 – and will run until September 2023. Through i4Trust also in Europe there is the possibility to get to the heart of the so-called “Data Spaces Revolution”, where Data Space means a virtual space for sharing and exchange of data built around an agreement of different parties aimed at taking advantage of the effective and safe use of data. The ultimate goal of the program, therefore, is to structure a Data Space with the right governance and the necessary technological component, ensuring that this will result in an economic advantage for participants thanks to the savings of time and finances generated by the exchange of data otherwise hidden.

i4Trust is promoted by three partners centered on the use of data: Fiware Foundation, a well-known European platform based on open source technologies and created to support the digitalization of companies and public administration; iSHARE, a company that for years has been developing data sharing networks to facilitate the exchange of information between different organizations from a technical, administrative and operational point of view; FundingbBox Acelerator, one of the most important European companies supporting the growth of innovative start-ups and SMEs.

The combination of skills and experiences of the leaders of the program has led to the awareness that the strategic action that moves the change cannot refer only to the implementation of new technologies, but it is essential to build a relational background, a solid and sustainable ecosystem of actors who communicate and collaborate to create a path of growth. For this reason, at the heart of the action of the i4Trust program is the support of 32 innovative experiments based on the use of data that will involve at least 150 SMEs and 32 Digital Innovation Hubs. The goal is to mobilize European companies and DIHs in the diffusion of new open source technologies and in the creation of strategic partnerships for data sharing. Selected experiments will take part in i4Trust’s 9-month Mentoring Program, which includes financial support – up to €120,000 per project – technical and administrative support, training in the use of i4Trust technologies and more. The reference sectors of the digital transformation initiatives are many, including projects concerning Smart Cities, Smart Mobility, Smart Manufacturing, Smart AgriFood, Smart Energy, Smart Water, Smart Health and Smart Logistics.

The i4Trust program is based on some fundamental values:

– Data sovereignty, as the means provided by the program ensure that you remain the owner and sovereign of your data and control its use.

– The effectiveness of data sharing, thanks to the infrastructure designed to exchange data between Smart Solutions.

– The open philosophy, established that i4Trust is based on open-standards and implemented as open source, allowing enterprises to face lower upfront costs.

– The interdomain, through which data can be shared between different participants in different domains.

– Innovation, or the ability to create innovative business models through the ability to monetize data.

The advantage for SMEs is in the possibility to create new services for their customers, to be attractive for new businesses, and to enter a booming market where the use of data is considered central. In addition, thanks to the support of the Fiware Foundation, iSHARE and FundigBox, training courses and tools to support business will be available.

An important role is assigned to Digital Innovation Hubs, links between technology research, businesses and funding networks. DIHs are expected to understand the needs of businesses and think about potential solutions and potential business opportunities regarding the challenges that need to be addressed as local i4Trust experts. In addition, the DIHs will be the driving force behind the program to disseminate the opportunities available and the first responsible for scouting activities in the target territory.

In Italy the only partner of Fiware’s iHub network is Innova iHub. Therefore the association represents one of the protagonists of the Italian challenge for innovation, thanks to the wealth of certified skills and the importance of the community of reference. Innova iHub was the protagonist in the first i4Trust Open Call contributing to the success of the AgroTrust project, for the use of technology to guarantee the traceability of the agri-food production chain. Read the article to learn more.

Also for this second Open Call, open until September 12, 2022, Innova iHub will be an Ambassador of the program and contribute to the development of innovative projects in Europe.