Policy solutions for an effective Digital Industrial B2B platform economy

The battle that Europe cannot afford to lose • 21 Feb 2020

Wednesday 19 February, Thierry Breton, European Commissioner for Internal Market and Services, presented his new EU data and AI strategy, emphasising the development of European data platforms. He announced that the EU Commission will invest € 2 billion in the development of common EU data platforms.

Seize the opportunity of digital platforms for European Industry

This sets the EU focus on digitisation and not only the enormous opportunity for European growth  but also one of the biggest challenges confronting European industry in the coming decades. The industry has high added value for the European economy but is struggling with intense competition from the US and China. New data-driven services can provide a major boost to European industry, but this requires European Digital B2B platforms.

US based Business to Consumer (B2C) platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Netflix, Amazon, Uber and AirBnB are already reshaping the economics of daily life in the EU. Business to Business (B2B) platforms might do the same for the economics of the EU industry.

B2B platforms need to ensure digital European sovereignty

At the same day, TNO and the Joint Institute for Innovation Policy (JIIP), organised a workshop with MEPs and industrial stakeholders in the European Parliament as a follow-up to the recently published study “Industrial B2B platforms: The race Europe cannot afford to lose”. The TNO/JIIP study recommends that Europe should strengthen its position in the field of Digital B2B platforms.

Key outcomes of the TNO/JIIP workshop include the need to foster cross-sectoral initiatives for data sharing, the need to ensure digital European sovereignty and the need to empower SMEs, as the backbone of European industry.

Horizontal standards needed for data and cloud infrastructure  

During the workshop ThyssenKrupp CTO and chairman of the IDSA, dr. Reinhold Achatz said: “International Data Spaces as an upcoming global data exchange standard has the potential to form the basis for platforms based on European values and bring data sovereignty to artificial intelligence applications and to GAIA-X.” The German GAIA-X initiative builds upon the IDS to create a European cloud and data infrastructure.

Having sovereignty over the data and cloud infrastructure is also considered an important element of the EU data and AI strategy of Europe. A more assertive approach is suggested.

Economic opportunities based on European values

Tom Berendsen MEP (EVP) mentioned: “Certainly there are economic opportunities in the controlled and protected sharing of the existing data from industry, SMEs and government. The European approach must ensure that we allow AI into our society based on our norms and values.”

TNO will support the next steps

TNO will continue to work with national and international stakeholders to seek the adoption of these new technologies in their specific market domain.

A key example is the Smart Connected Supplier Network field lab, in which manufacturing companies and their ICT supplier work together on sharing data in the high-tech manufacturing supply chain. It is als one of the key use cases in the International Data Spaces Association, of which TNO is a member.

Together with JIIP partners, TNO will further develop and support policy initiatives and experiments that can contribute to deployment of B2B platforms in Europe.


Dr. Claire Stolwijk

  • Innovation policy
  • public-private partnerships
  • Smart Industry
  • Key Enabling Technologies

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