It was with great enthusiasm when we received the news about a recent attempt to create the first dedicated Big Data Centre of Excellence (CoE) in Bulgaria that would also make it the first one in Eastern Europe, according to our findings. This project, “GATE – Big Data for Smart Society”, is funded by Horizon 2020 WIDESPREAD-2016-2017 TEAMING Phase 1 programme and involves partners from Sofia University (Bulgaria), Chalmers University of Technology (Sweden) and Chalmers Industriteknik (Sweden). Their goal is to create a sustainable plan for a Big Data Centre that will be evaluated by the European Commission to be given the green light and the necessary European and National funding for the establishment of the CoE.
This whole endeavour is received very positively from the Bulgarian government and industry, as the goal is to foster and develop a vivid data ecosystem not just within the country, but in the region as well, that will pave the way for significant scientific contributions, successful commercial collaborations with industry and high international visibility.
With innovation pillars such as Data-Driven Government (public services enhancement and efficient decision making based on Open Data), Data Driven Industry (smart factories production optimization and sustainable precision agriculture), Data Driven Society (better living through smart and sustainable cities creation, advanced health care and improved environment) and Data-Driven Science (cultivating new generation data scientists), the GATE project aspires to create a centre that produces responsible research and innovation relevant to the national priority sectors and of European high standards.
The Big Data Value Ecosystem (BDVe) project as part of the Big Data Value PPP is a Horizon 2020 project that aims to create a vibrant data-driven EU economy by supporting the development of a European Network of CoEs in Big Data, as well as the sustainability and acceleration of data-driven businesses and investments. BDVe is developing a best practice guide for Big Data CoEs to support the sharing of best practices for existing centres and to support the establishment of new CoEs such as GATE.
To create this guide, one of the first tasks was to conduct a survey on existing CoEs in Europe, as well as their challenges, successes and strategies. We found that 21 centres belong to Western Europe, 5 to Southern Europe, 5 to Northern Europe. Therefore, it was only natural to realise that GATE is trying to achieve a very important move that aspires to strengthen the research capacity in Big Data in Eastern Europe.
But how can a new Centre in Eastern Europe avail of the best practices of CoEs mostly in the region of Western Europe? Our best practice guide was conducted through extensive literature survey on successful CoEs and it is enhanced by detailed interviews with the key management people from successful CoEs across Europe.
Said Dr. Edward Curry from the Insight Centre of Data Analytics who leads the activity in BDVe, noted that “The focus of our best practice guide is on the strategy, governance, structure, funding, cultural, academic/research-industry collaboration and outreach practices for Big Data CoEs, in order to create a guide that could facilitate other centres, new or old. These best practices have been shared with the GATE project in a series of workshops to support them in the creation of their new centre and us validating our guide”.
We are all looking forward to the upcoming Big Data Value Meet-up event in Sofia, Bulgaria on the 14th – 16th of May 2018 where we will again have a working session between BDVe and GATE and explore how a Big Data CoE can support the local ecosystem.