Towards a pan-European data sharing space

There is an understanding that data sharing has to happen, and it is already happening. The more data there is available to use and experiment with, the better we can develop AI for everyone.

Simon Scerri of Fraunhofer IAIS and Irene de López de Vallejo of BluSpecs from the European Big Data Value Association

Big Data Value Association

The Big Data Value Association (BDVA) is an international non-profit organisation that consists of members from academia, public bodies, industries and private citizens. The association aims to raise awareness and promote the value of data across Europe and to enable data and AI-driven digital transformation in Europe to:

  1. Deliver maximum economic and societal benefit and
  2. Achieve and sustain Europe’s leadership on big data value creation and artificial intelligence (AI).

Recently, the BDVA has shifted its focus towards AI and in making more data available to support it – including using open data and shared data that cannot be published as open. In the beginning, the BDVA prioritised publishing and supporting the promotion of open data to accomplish this shift. Now, they are broadening their scope as they realised that what has worked for open data can also be adapted for non-open data (data sharing). These datasets, both open and shared, can contribute to developing AI for everyone.

Within the BDVA’s network, there are organisations - including small-, medium- and large-sized industries – that are already incorporating data sharing into the heart of their activities. These entities started pursuing data sharing because they saw the potential and advantages it could bring them, such as opportunities to create more solutions and products and the related revenue streams. The BDVA recognised this potential and decided to take a mediating role to help converge its network’s effort on data sharing. One of the first outputs of this process was to produce a position paper highlighting this potential.

Towards a Pan-European Data Sharing Space

The BDVA’s position paper titled “Towards a European Data Sharing Space: Enabling data exchange and unlocking AI potential” was published in April 2019. It is a first step to converge data sharing practices of businesses and institutions from different sectors to inspire others and demonstrate what is possible. As stated, the paper aims to inspire the European community - such as researchers, industry representatives, public bodies and private individuals - to share data with one another by showcasing examples and opportunities and highlighting Europe’s strengths.

For more information on the position paper, the Support Centre for Data Sharing (SCDS) spoke with two members of the BDVA and editors of the paper: Simon Scerri of Fraunhofer IAIS and board member of the BDVA, and Irene de López de Vallego of BlueSpecs. They stated that at the inception of the research for the report, several challenges were identified as the most common data sharing practices were documented. This included technical, business and organisational, legal compliance, and national and regional challenges. The two key challenges that were identified and discussed with Simon and Irene were data governance and regulations (absence or limited presence thereof). Technology was not identified as a challenge because many technical solutions are already mature and available. Instead, legal challenges – especially in the domain of policy and governance – were elaborated on. Several recommendations are presented in the report, too. Below are two examples of recommendations discussed in the interview to alleviate some of the challenges:

  • Addressing data “ownership”. Currently, the set of legal rights associated to data – commonly referred to as the “ownership” of data - is legally unclear. For example, there is no clarity or consensus when discussing how to transfer rights or how they can be constrained in time. To address this, data sovereignty needs to be guaranteed. Organisations that participate in data sharing feel more comfortable when they know who is responsible for what. This can be achieved by taking a more pragmatic approach to data sharing rights and management, and by incorporating technical and legal aspects, including governance – i.e. how governance and technology can support trust.
  • Incorporate in the data lifecycle. Most data producers do not consider data sharing as an opportunity in any part of their data lifecycle. As data sharing becomes more prominent, entities including business, public bodies and individuals should become aware of how the data they are producing can be relevant and bring value to other organisations.

For more recommendations, explore the BDVA’s position paper.

The future of data sharing in Europe

The BDVA is at work in a second edition of the position paper. In the new edition, they will expand their scope to focus on additional aspects of data sharing across Europe. One of these will be data sharing models. The association will continue to have a business-centric focus and will research on different data sharing model with businesses, including with other businesses (B2B), with government bodies (B2G), with consumers (B2C), and with scientists and researchers (B2S).

The second edition is expected to be published in Spring 2020.


Big Data Value Association


Academic research


Europe / World


European countries


2018 - ongoing


Business model



The Big Data Value Association is an international non-profit organisation that consists of members from academia, public bodies, industries and private citizens. The association aims to enable data and AI-drive digital transformation across Europe. Two representatives from this association and editors of the position paper discussed were interviewed: Simon Scerri and Irene López de Vallego.

Type of organisation


Data sharing model(s)

Pan-European data sharing space

Core impact

The position paper sought to converge data sharing practices from different entities across Europe from multiple sectors to inspire other stakeholders to share data and create value and impact. In addition, the paper sought to showcase data sharing opportunities for different stakeholders and provide recommendations to overcome different challenges.


A socio-technical shift is spreading across Europe. To match this shift, the BDVA is now focusing on making more data available to support AI by researching and showcasing how entities across Europe are using data – open and shared – to develop AI for everyone.

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Image credit:
(C) 2020 Support Centre for Data Sharing

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