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Gaia-X Hub Austria joined representatives from industry and government in Alpbach to discuss Austria’s position in tomorrow’s sovereign digital Europe.

The participants of the Gaia-X Hub Austria workshop in Alpbach (fltr): Mario Drobics (AIT), Tobias Höllwarth (EuroCloud), Roland Fadrany (Gaia-X AISBL), Thomas Hahn (Siemens AG), State Secretary Florian Tursky (BMF), Section Head Henriette Spyra (BMK), Jochen Borenich (K-Businesscom), Roland Sommer (Industry Platform 4.0), Christian Tauber (K-Businesscom), Helmut Leopold (AIT); Image Credit: EFA/Philipp Huber

On 26 August 2022, during the European Forum Alpbach (Conference Week II TEC), Gaia-X Hub Austria organised a partner session for the State Secretariat for Digitalisation in the Federal Ministry of Finance (BMF) to kick off the national communications campaign for the European Gaia-X initiative. During the session, respected experts and stakeholders from politics, business, industry and research discussed the social and economic aspects of data-driven value creation and the European Gaia-X initiative.

On the path to European data sovereignty

The increasing challenge companies face in keeping up with digitalisation across all areas of business in order to remain competitive globally constitutes the starting point for the flagship European Gaia-X initiative. As cloud and edge computing has rapidly developed to become a cost-effective and therefore predominant IT delivery model, over the past decade the European economy has become increasingly dependent upon major international cloud providers (hyperscalers). None of the major global internet or data companies are located in Europe. In addition, the prosperity of future generations will be increasingly determined by data-based business models. Europe must carry over its economic and technological strength, plus its political weight, into the digital space. New regulation strategies and rules on data handling, as well as new skills and IT services in the market, must be applied to break down monopoly structures, which will pave the way for advances both in and for Europe. Gaia-X is Europe’s initiative for securing the greatest possible degree of data sovereignty for future data-driven markets. Trust, data protection, cybersecurity, technology neutrality and interoperability are core European values. Gaia-X provides the rules for the sovereign exchange of data between organisations, as well as the corresponding software components in accordance with the open source principle. The non-profit organisation Gaia-X European Association for Data and Cloud AISBL was founded in Brussels in January 2021 in order to realise the Gaia-X vision.

Gaia-X Hub Austria positions Austria within the global data economy

In late March 2022, the Austrian Gaia-X Hub was launched by the Federal Ministry for Finance (BMF), State Secretariat for Digitalisation, and the Federal Ministry for Climate Action,  Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology (BMK) (www.gaia-x.at). As the national Gaia-X contact point for companies, public institutions and initiatives, the Hub is designed to support implementation of the Gaia-X strategy in Austria. This, in turn, will guarantee the data sovereignty needed for sustainable economic growth and social equality.

The Management Board of the Gaia-X Hub Austria, chaired by Helmut Leopold, Head of the Center for Digital Safety & Security at AIT, has identified four strategic fields of action for shaping social discourse: the Hub will provide information, thereby creating trust in future data ecosystems; facilitate adoption of data-based business models to strengthen the competitiveness of Austrian companies; pool resources for national and international implementation projects; and drive international networking in order to firmly anchor Austria within the EU context.

Alpbach workshop launches the Gaia-X Hub Austria communication campaign

The objective of the Gaia-X Hub Austria is to strengthen the competitiveness of Austrian companies; to increase sovereignty in the modern data economy; and to make an essential contribution to the green transformation. To start the planned communication campaign for the European Gaia-X initiative, a workshop was held in Alpbach at which respected experts and stakeholders from politics, business, industry and research discussed the social and economic aspects of data-driven value creation and the European Gaia-X initiative.

Florian Tursky, State Secretary for Digitalisation and Telecommunication at the BMF, stressed the importance of the standardised set of rules established by Gaia-X for simplified data exchange as the basis for a competitive economy. This will also allow SMEs to make use of the benefits of data spaces. Henriette Spyra, Director General Innovation & Technology  at the BMK, stressed how sustainable value chains depend on collaboration between the various stakeholders, and how data principles and interfaces must be used to bring about the green transformation. Roland Fadrany, Chief Operating Officer (COO) of the Gaia-X European Association for Data and Cloud AISBL, presented the strategic objective and current status of technological development. He was clear that, as an established information hub, the Gaia-X Hub Austria also functions as a role model, particularly in shaping transnational cooperative initiatives and defining clear success criteria. Thomas Hahn, Siemens AG, Chief Expert Software and President of the Big Data Value Association (BDVA), outlined existing industrial projects in order to demonstrate the fundamental importance of effective, secure and sovereign data exchange to European industry, and the essential requirements of Gaia-X. Furthermore, due to the global nature of business, a global implementation is also needed. Jochen Borenich, Member of the Executive Board of K-Businesscom AG, emphasised that Austrian IT companies have the high degree of IT expertise needed to meet the demanding Gaia-X goals of creating modern data ecosystems in Austria. Christof Tschohl, Scientific  Director of the Research Institute - Digital Human Rights Center, described computer security as worthy of constitutional protection, and emphasised that Europe’s data protection agenda served as an international role model and is consistent with effective data business models. Helmut Leopold highlighted the fundamental importance of close and trusted cooperation between politics, administration, industry and science in effecting digitalisation in a form needed to help solve the greatest challenges our society and economy will face.

Specific applications for modern data exchange

Mario Drobics, Head of the Competence Unit for Cooperative Digital Technologies at AIT, joined Christian Tauber, Head of Platform Services, K-Businesscom AG, in demonstrating the workings of the circular economy, taking batteries as an example. They showed how by using the Gaia-X framework to allow OEMs, suppliers and users to cooperate within a shared data space, the principles of the circular economy (production, use, reuse, redesign, retrofitting, recycling) can be rolled out along the entire value chain, from planning, production and operation through to end-of-life. This will result in future-proof industrial development incorporating the sustainable use of resources.

Roland Sommer, Managing Director of Platform Industry 4.0 and Tobias Höllwarth, EuroCloud, discussed the application “CO2 Footprint in Manufacturing”, taking the European Gaia-X flagship project EuProGigant as an example. This example shows how the European data ecosystem ensures the optimal use of resources in assembling components, while also creating incentives for companies to cooperate based on reliable data exchange. As a result, data networking and the use of appropriate software tools lead to an increase in resource efficiency along the entire process chain and can significantly reduce the carbon emissions from manufacturing industry.

The discussion concluded that the essential next step is to drive forward Europe-wide collaboration, and to use the Gaia-X set of rules as a starting point to expand data ecosystems. This will encourage the development of sustainable, resource-efficient production processes and circular economies, modern environmental management, reduced carbon emissions, renewable energy systems, and efficient health systems, etc.


Michael W. Mürling
Marketing and Communications
AIT Austrian Institute of Technology
Center for Digital Safety & Security
T +43 (0)664 235 17 47
michael.muerling(at)ait.ac.at I www.ait.ac.at