In an exciting development for the tech and business landscape, Europe’s groundbreaking cloud project has recently secured substantial funding, marking a significant milestone in the region’s pursuit of digital sovereignty. The project, known as the European Cloud Initiative, aims to establish a robust and secure cloud infrastructure that will bolster Europe’s digital capabilities and reduce its reliance on foreign technology providers.
The European Commission is to provide up to €1.2 billion in public funding for the IPCEI Cloud project and expects a further €1.4 billion from the private sector. Both pots of money are to be used to promote local interests in a regional computing sector controlled by US giants.
IPCEI – or Important Project of Common European Interest – “may represent a significant contribution to economic growth, jobs, the green and digital transition and competitiveness for the Union industry and economy,” according to the European Commission. Previous examples include microelectronics and batteries.
The European Cloud Initiative has been backed by a consortium of public and private stakeholders, including leading tech companies, research institutions, and governmental bodies. This diverse collaboration demonstrates the strong commitment of European entities to foster innovation and strengthen their digital infrastructure.
With the secured funding, the European Cloud Initiative is set to accelerate the development and deployment of cutting-edge, homegrown cloud technologies. This initiative will not only enable Europe to assert greater control over its data and digital operations, but it will also stimulate economic growth and provide a significant competitive advantage in the global tech market.
The public funding – from taxpayers in seven European member states including Germany, France, Hungary, the Netherland, Italy, Poland and Spain – comes as AWS, Microsoft and Google continue to dominate the provision of cloud services in Europe. Stats from Synergy Research published a year ago showed the trio had a local market share of 72 percent.
One of the key objectives of the project is to foster trust and security in the European digital landscape. By establishing a sovereign cloud infrastructure, Europe aims to enhance data protection and privacy for its citizens, businesses, and institutions. This move aligns with the region’s commitment to maintaining high standards of security and ensuring that data is handled responsibly and ethically.
Furthermore, the European Cloud Initiative seeks to empower businesses of all sizes by providing them with access to scalable and cost-effective cloud services tailored to their specific needs. This democratisation of cloud technology will enable startups and SMEs to leverage advanced computing capabilities, fuel innovation, and compete on a global scale.
The substantial funding secured by the European Cloud Initiative underscores the confidence and enthusiasm surrounding this ambitious project. It not only reflects the shared vision of European entities to forge a path toward digital sovereignty but also highlights the recognition of the importance of investing in homegrown technology solutions.
In remarks made in Brussels on December 5, Commissioner Didier Reynders said: “For instance, a project will create an open source software that will let businesses create Private Clouds across several sites by integrating resources from various data-centers.”
Other work-streams comprise “Advanced Smart Data Processing Tools and Services” and “Advanced Applications,” intended to bring everything together.
Reynders highlighted the example of SAP and its reference architecture for cloud-edge infrastructure. The commissioner said: “This reference infrastructure will be the basis for future software development and a prerequisite for a pan-European cloud edge infrastructure. “This project is expected to deliver its first results around the end of 2027.”
As the project gains momentum, it is anticipated that the European Cloud Initiative will serve as a catalyst for collaboration, knowledge sharing, and technological advancements across the continent. By fostering an ecosystem of innovation and empowerment, Europe is poised to become a leading player in the global digital landscape, while ensuring the protection of its values and interests.
As many as one thousand new jobs are expected to be created in AI, cybersecurity, data, cloud, and software engineering. A further 5,000 new jobs are expected once the project reaches its commercialisation phase.
There is a catch to all the potential state funding. The cash will cushion the blow from market failures, but companies developing open source software are expected to grant permissive, non-restrictive licenses to any interested party. In addition, 20 percent of the capacity of facilities funded by state aid must be made available. If things go well, a claw-back mechanism is in place to force companies to return part of the state aid.
Europe does not have the best of track records when it comes to cloud and IT projects. Gaia-X, a project to provide a federated and secure infrastructure, was proposed in 2019. As of 2023, it remains a work in progress.
The research, development, and deployment phases are expected to run from 2023 to 2031, and 19 companies are involved, including SAP and Orange in the Cloud-Edge Capabilities work-stream and Deutsche Telecom in the Cloud-Edge Continuum Infrastructure work-stream.
So time will now tell if europe’s latest ambitious cloud project has reached a significant milestone with the recent securing of substantial funding. The European Cloud Initiative not only aims to strengthen the region’s digital sovereignty but also to foster trust, security, and economic growth. As this initiative progresses, it has the potential to position Europe as a frontrunner in the global tech market, offering advanced cloud solutions that benefit businesses and citizens alike.