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EU scientists to benefit from 'European cloud'

EU scientists to benefit from 'European cloud'

Carlos Moedas - Photo EC

(BRUSSELS) - A new 'European cloud', unveiled Tuesday by EU Science Commissioner Carlos Moedas, is to give Europe's researchers and scientists a new virtual environment to help them reap the benefits of a revolution in 'big data'.

Bolstering and interconnecting existing research infrastructure, the Commission's blueprint for cloud-based services will offer Europe's 1.7 million researchers and 70 million science and technology professionals a virtual environment to store, share and re-use their data across disciplines and borders.

This will be underpinned by a 'European Data Infrastructure', to deploy the high-bandwidth networks, large scale storage facilities and super-computer capacity necessary to effectively access and process large datasets stored in the cloud. 

The initiative is designed to reduce the cost of data storage and high-performance analysis. Making research data openly available can help boost Europe's competitiveness by benefiting start-ups, SMEs and data-driven innovation, including in the fields of medicine and public health, says the Commission.

The plan forms part of a package of measures announced today to strengthen Europe's position in data-driven innovation,  focuses initially on the scientific community. However, the Commission promises that the user base will over time be enlarged to the public sector as well as to industry in general.

The Commission will progressively put in place the European Cloud Initiative through a series of actions, including:

  • As of 2016: creating a European Open Science Cloud for European researchers and their global scientific collaborators by integrating and consolidating e-infrastructure platforms, federating existing scientific clouds and research infrastructures, and supporting the development of cloud-based services.
  • 2017: opening up by default all scientific data produced by future projects under the €77 billion Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, to ensure that the scientific community can re-use the enormous amount of data they generate.
  • 2018: launching a flagship-type initiative to accelerate the nascent development of quantum technology, which is the basis for the next generation of supercomputers.
  • By 2020: developing and deploying a large scale European high performance computing, data storage and network infrastructure, including by acquiring two prototype next-generation supercomputers of which one would rank among the top three in the world, establishing a European big data centre, and upgrading the backbone network for research and innovation (GEANT).

In addition to the European research community, the Commission says the European Open Science Cloud and the European Data Infrastructure will be accessible and bring benefits for many other users:

  • Businesses will have cost-effective and easy access to top level data and computing infrastructure, as well as a wealth of scientific data enabling data-driven innovation. This will particularly benefit SMEs, which typically lack access to such resources.
  • Industry will benefit from the creation of a large-scale cloud eco-system, supporting the development of new European technologies such as low-power chips for high performance computing.
  • Public services will benefit from reliable access to powerful computing resources and the creation of a platform to open their data and services, which can lead to cheaper, better and faster interconnected public services. Researchers will also benefit from online access to the wealth of data created by public services.

The public and private investment needed to implement the European Cloud Initiative is estimated at €6.7 billion. The Commission estimates that, overall, €2 billion in Horizon 2020 funding will be allocated to the European Cloud initiative. The estimation of the required additional public and private investment is €4.7 billion in the period of 5 years.

Communication on a European Cloud Initiative-Building a competitive data and knowledge economy in Europe


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