New technological developments are emerging, businesses are changing, and value chains are growing ever more complex. Digitisation plays a crucial role in this process, and the availability and use of data are becoming increasingly important. The i4Trust initiative is enabling small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to benefit from the advantages of the data economy. If you are interested in optimising your business operations or developing new products and services based on data.
The use of data offers great opportunities, not least for logistics. It lays the foundation for smarter use of our transport capacity, saving time and costs, and reducing CO2 emissions. Although quite a lot of data is already being shared in this sector, there is still a long way to go especially for SMEs. Research by the Ministry of Economic Affairs* shows that SMEs still experience many obstacles when it comes to sharing data. They expect to benefit from data sharing but are unsure how to begin.
The uncertainty goes beyond the Netherlands and the logistic sector. That is why the European Union Strategy for data is supporting trustworthy technologies, and giving businesses the confidence and means to digitize all around Europe. i4Trust, led by FIWARE, FundingBox, and iSHARE, provides technology, coaching, and financial resources to help SMEs with data sharing.
Security, trust, and control over data
As lack of trust and fear of data misuse prevent entrepreneurs from sharing data, providing a secure and controlled data sharing environment is an important contribution from i4Trust.
The technology is provided by FIWARE, which consists of open source software components for developing smart solutions that allow SMEs to quickly develop all kinds of data sharing applications in a secure way because this FIWARE software meets the strictest safety and reliability requirements for data sharing of the iSHARE scheme.
Rajiv Rajani, Chief Technology Officer of the iSHARE Foundation: “i4Trust initiative brings all the necessary building blocks for communities to create a safe, secure and trusted environment to share data, known as ‘dataspaces’, based on which you can break ‘data silos’ not only within the sector but also cross-sector. This enables SMEs not only to explore new business opportunities but it also gives them the advantage in enabling end-to-end process flows to bring the necessary efficiencies needed to expand not only nationally but internationally as well.”
Scheme with Dutch origins
The iSHARE scheme has its origins in Dutch logistics. The system was developed in 2016 on behalf of the Netherlands’ Top Sector Logistics, for and by the logistics sector itself. “In this European program, iSHARE ensures control over data, data sovereignty, a key element for trust in data sharing, for cooperation across sectors and countries,” says Gerard van der Hoeven, director of the iSHARE Foundation.
“iSHARE and FIWARE provide SMEs that participate in one of the i4Trust projects with the necessary tools to share data within a secure network of parties without barriers. And they can do so because they automatically use software that meets the strict requirements of iSHARE. This enables them to collaborate digitally in an effective, efficient, and secure way.”
With the i4Trust project, the European Union wants to encourage entrepreneurs in SMEs to share data more intensively, so that they can work more efficiently, more cheaply, and in a sustainable way.
Conditions for participation
In order to be eligible for i4Trust’s open calls, SMEs need to have a concrete real use case where there is potential for data sharing and where other organizations are involved, including other SMEs. Development of the use case should take place with the support of a Digital Innovation Hub (DIH).
i4Trust started in October 2020 and will run for 3 years. A total of EUR 3.2 million is available to support 150 SMEs and 32 DIHs.
Are you an SME, and are you interested in i4Trust? Then register for the i4Trust community. In this online collaboration environment, you will find a further explanation of the project: how you can participate, what criteria you must meet, what the planning looks like, what training materials are available, and how you can get in touch with a DIH that may bring the necessary support to your project. Do not forget to sign up for one of the i4Trust open calls.
i4Trust has been one of the partners of the Summit Logistic Services that have been organized on June 10th. During the event, Van der Hoeven hosted a roundtable discussion about digitalisation and data sharing.
This article has been originally published in Digitaal magazine – Logistiek.