On 22 February 2021, an interactive dialogue on the current status and potential of GAIA-X took place (online) for the first time. The lively participation in the event demonstrated the interest in working on a common European data infrastructure.

The GAIA-X Dialogue, organised by the Austrian Federal Ministry for Climate Action, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology (BMK), the Data Intelligence Offensive (DIO), the Platform Industry 4.0, together with the Federation of Austrian Industries and EIT Manufacturing, attracted around 100 participants. Michael Wiesmüller (BMK) opened the event and emphasised the importance of a dialogue on the status quo of such a strategically important topic. Thomas Hahn (GAIA-X) gave a detailed insight into GAIA-X and the current status quo. This was followed by keynote speeches on data ecosystems and data markets by DIO President Günther Tschabuschnig (ZAMG) and Data Space Smart Manufacturing (Friedrich Bleicher, TU Wien & Johannes Hunschofsky, EIT-Manufacturing East GmbH). Nina Popanton (DIO) and Roland Sommer (Plattform Industrie 4.0) led through the event and moderated the Q&A session that followed, which was used for a lively exchange about progress, potential problems and challenges.

Status Quo of GAIA-X: A Federated Data Infrastructure for Europe

GAIA-X is a German-French lead project for the development of a high-performance and competitive, secure and trustworthy data infrastructure for Europe, which is supported by representatives from business, science and administration with various European partners. The aim is to create a structure according to European standards (secure data exchange, data sovereignty, compliance guidelines, etc.) and thus enable companies and business models from Europe not only to be competitive, but also to have the chance to fall back on a (European) alternative to solutions from Asia or the USA.

Since the end of January 2021, GAIA-X AISBL (French: association internationale sans but lucratif, or AISBL for short) has been a non-profit association that aims to consolidate the efforts within the GAIA-X community and promote international cooperation by assisting in the development of legal frameworks and the expansion and dissemination of necessary services. For this purpose, two committees were founded, from which various working groups with different focal points have emerged and are still emerging. The Policy Committee, for example, deals with potential regulations, the Data Governance Act or communication with the European Alliance for Industrial Data and Cloud. The Technical Committee is responsible for the development of necessary standards and requirements, use cases and open source implementations. Apart from that, there will be two Advisory Boards (Governmental and General Advisory Board).

In order to promote GAIA-X in the best possible way, further hubs will be founded in addition to the existing “National Hubs”, for example in Germany, France and Finland. The focus of the hubs is clearly on bundling national interests and facilitating the establishment of use cases and data spaces. GAIA-X should thus become more firmly anchored nationally in the respective EU states. They are to support the development of a European data ecosystem. For this purpose, existing knowledge and experience from initiatives such as TRUSTS (Trusted Secure Data Sharing Space) or Safe-DEED should be used.

High motivation and willingness in Austria

Austria is very interested in participating in GAIA-X. For initiatives like GAIA-X, it is important to create awareness for the need and willingness of data sharing and shared data spaces. DIO supports here by setting up various working groups and data circles.

Examples of the use of data sharing in production were provided by Friedrich Bleicher (Vienna University of Technology) and Johannes Hunschofsky (EIT-Manufacturing East GmbH). They spoke about Data Spaces Smart Manufacturing and emphasised how important it is to also involve small and medium-sized enterprises in the development of a European data ecosystem via use cases, to network in the European area and to drive forward projects and the further developments of GAIA-X. Especially in the field of manufacturing technology, there are already innovative approaches towards data spaces. GAIA-X and the tools that are being developed within this framework can support the further development towards cross-company data sharing. A first step is to break down barriers – companies must be freed from the fear of handling their data optimally.

Thomas Hahn concluded the dialogue with the telling words: “The seed has been planted, now we have to grow it. It is important to consolidate the cooperation and to bundle the strengths in order to make a difference.

GAIA-X Next Steps

  • March 2021:
    • Full start of GAIA-X AISBL operations
    • Launch of first federated services
  • April 2021
    • Webinar / workshop on GAIA-X and intersections with areas such as Data Value Creation.
  • June 2021:
    • Set up of four data rooms
    • Establishment of at least five national hubs
    • Coverage of a maximum of European countries
    • First General Assembly of the GAIA-X AISBL