The EU is launching a €6.7bn (£5.3bn) mega “science cloud”, intended to better exploit the continent's academic research via big data.
According to a press release from the European Commission, the EU is the "largest producer of scientific data in the world, but insufficient and fragmented infrastructure means this 'big data' is not being exploited to its full potential."
The commission's “Open Science Cloud” is intended to offer the EU's 1.7 million researchers and 70 million science and technology professionals "a virtual environment to store, share and re-use their data across disciplines and borders."
The project is initially being funded through the enormous €80bn Horizon 2020 fund for research and innovation projects, with €2bn coming from that pot.
An additional €4.7bn will be required from public and private investment over the next five years.
The press release said the cloud project "will be underpinned by the European Data Infrastructure, deploying the high-bandwidth networks, large scale storage facilities and super-computer capacity necessary to effectively access and process large datasets stored in the cloud."
Users will initially include Europe's scientific community. It will then be expanded to the public sector and to industry.
The initiative is part of a package of measures launched today under the EU's Digital Single Market strategy.
Under that scheme the commission also proposes measures to speed up the development of common standards in tech, such as 5G communication networks and cybersecurity "to modernise public services."
Carlos Moedas, EU commissioner for research, science and innovation, said: "We listened to the scientific community's plea for an infrastructure for Open Science and with this comprehensive plan we can get down to work. The benefits of open data for Europe's science, economy and society will be enormous."
Günther H-dot Oettinger, EU commissioner for the digital economy and society, said: "With this initiative, our ambition is to be in the global top-three in high performance computing by 2020.
"We will also be looking into the potential of quantum technologies which hold the promise to solve computational problems beyond current supercomputers." ®