On 22 April 2021, the Commission and the EU-IoT project co-organised a virtual Next-Generation IoT & Edge Computing Strategy Forum, gathering guest speakers in R&I and the private sector to exchange views on the priorities, challenges and opportunities ahead and in the aim of establishing a commonly shared vision for the next-generation IoT and (Far) Edge Computing in Europe.
Guest speakers included experts from companies such as ATOS, Bosch, Ericsson, Nokia, NXP, SAP, Siemens, Trialog and TTTech, research centres like CEA, Fraunhofer, KTH and SINTEF, along with organisations like AIOTI, ARTEMIS-IA, GAIA-X, ECLIPSE, ETSI, and IDSA with over 300 participants attending.
The over 30 speakers discussed how the EU can exploit its strengths in industry and how to drive the development of open platforms, as well as when competition and collaboration is of importance among global players. European industrial actors stressed that 80% of data processing and analytics will shift to running at the edge of the network, taking place in real-time, which is both more secure and energy-efficient.
Over the course of 4 plenary sessions, the topics discussed in the context of the future IoT and Edge Computing were as follows:
- System integration platforms: There is a convergence of operational and information technologies, which leads to the next-generation IoT with a strong computing power at the edge and at device level. A major step forward would be an agreement on common operating platforms.
- Ecosystems and alliances: Users and providers need to build together the next generation of the IoT. Platforms must be open as Europe is a part of global ecosystems.
- Trust and trustworthiness: Digital trust is key to digital transformation. Data policies supported by mature tools are needed for transparency as well as ways to opt out of providing data.
- Visionary concepts: The move towards collective intelligence will require smart orchestrators for heterogeneous systems leading to new concepts of decentralised intelligence and swarm computing.
With the EU’s strengths in industrial IoT, cyber-physical systems and key vertical sectors, there was consensus that European actors – from large to small, demand to supply side, digital to operational, and research to industry – must join forces in developing the next generation of IoT technologies, systems and platforms with a strong computing capacity at the edge, to reinforce Europe’s competitive position on the global stage.
The forum was a follow up from the March 2021 Fireside Chat; a small workshop that mobilised and connected key stakeholders at corporate level to advance the design of a strategic European vision for the future IoT and edge computing. With its medium-term perspective of a market window of over 5 years, this vision is set to be supported by a EUR 150 million R&I initiative under the first Work Programme of Horizon Europe (Pillar II, Cluster 4) on Cloud-to-Edge-to-IoT and is part of the implementation of the European Strategy for Data. It complements shorter term and more deployment-oriented European initiatives on data spaces and on cloud-to-edge federation, services, and marketplaces prepared in the context of the DIGITAL programme.