BDVA i-Spaces

What are i-Spaces?


i-Spaces are cross-sectorial and cross-organisatioal innovation hubs that bring together data sources, AI technologies, competences and all the technical and non-technical aspects needed to allow SMEs and start-ups to get their data-driven and AI-related services, products and applications quickly tested, piloted, and exploited. i-Spaces aim at accelerating the take up of data-driven innovation in commercial sectors such as Manufacturing 4.0, Logistics, e Commerce, Media, Aerospace, Automobile, Energy, Agriculture and Agroindustry, Pharmacy; as well as in non-profit sectors such as e-Government, Environment, Public Health, Smart Cities).

i-Spaces rely and build upon existing national and regional initiatives that play a central role in a European Data and AI ecosystem. They offer secure accelerator-style environments for running experiments in both private data and open data, bringing technology and application development together. I-Spaces act as incubators for new businesses in the development of skills, competences, and best practices. They also contribute to the building of a community, providing a catalyst for community engagement and acting as incubators and accelerators of data-driven innovation.  Expected value includes Economical, Societal as well as Environmental dimensions. These platforms host Closed as well as Open Data from Business and Public sources (language resources, geospatial data, healthcare data, economic statistics, transport data, weather data…).

The basis of i-Spaces is an existing infrastructure that can be based on a geographic, sectorial or company ground, or a combination of them. i-Spaces entities are pre-competitive and non-profit, though proposing a sustainable business model.

The European added value of i-Spaces is that they federate, complement and leverage activities of similar national incubators/environments, research and innovation projects and other national or European initiatives. I-Spaces are federating efforts and expanding through the EUHubs4Data project that aims to build a long term and sustainable Federation. Read more about the Federation here

The BDVA i-Space Label

To ensure the quality of the European Innovation Spaces and connect existing initiatives under one umbrella, the BDVA set up the BDVA i-Space label. On a yearly basis, candidates from all over Europe are invited to apply for this label. A set of criteria are tested by way of a survey to collect the relevant information. A committee appointed by the BDVA Board of Directors (BoD) carefully examines individual candidates and recommends the appropriate quality ranking (bronze, silver, gold) to the BoD, which ultimately grants the label. These activities have led to the establishment of a European Federation of i-Spaces that ensure easy access for industrial partners to foster the development and testing of precompetitive solutions on high-quality platforms offering certified services and training.

By this labelling process, the BDVA recognizes the quality of existing data experimentation and innovation hubs in Europe and guarantees that the innovation environments provided by those initiatives meet the necessary requirements to boost data-driven and AI-based innovation at local level, but also the collaboration with similar initiatives to foster the adoption at European level.

The label is a well-recognized brand, offers a quality reference and provides visibility to national initiatives on Big Data and Artificial Intelligence.

The labelling process is described here
Call for i-Space labels 2023 will open in May 2023.
Learn more about the call for labels by looking at our call for i-Space labels 2022 here

BDVA labelled i-Spaces are reviewed in 5 categories with over 80 single criteria measured and evaluated. The categories are:

  1. Infrastructure/Technologies of i-Space containing criteria to computing power/Storage capacity, access methods as well as tools , policies, standards & certificates.
  2. Provided Services of i-Space like technical support, access to acceleration and incubation support skill leverage and provided trainings.
  3. Projects/Applications of i-Space per sector ranked by relevance.
  4. Impact to Eco-system of i-Space with criteria participation reach, EU-level outreach, enablement model and impact follow up.
  5. Business Strategy of i-Space with criteria in strategy, economic sustainability and revenue statements. All categories and criteria were evaluated within a 5 stage scale. Depending on defined thresholds an i-Space could get a gold silver and bronze label which means e.g. for a Gold label that most of the criteria and categories are ranked on stage 3 or higher.  

i-Spaces Resources
  • i-Spaces have implemented they own infrastructure with big data targeted architectures with ad hoc processing power, online storage and state of the art accelerators. Remote access includes adequate network access facilities.
  • IT security and data protection procedure extend beyond industrial state of the art.
  • These infrastructures are located inside Europe boundaries.
  • Available on demand software include tools to manage unstructured data, semi-structured data and structured data onto single platform with user-oriented retrieval and processing tools requires up-to-date methodological technologies (i.e.: querying, indexing, feature extraction, modelling, predictive analytics and visualization).
  • Beyond Data science and Big Data Infrastructures skills, i-Spaces maintains state of the art skills related e-security expertise in technical as well as legal and regulatory domains. I -Spaces initiate or support Education programs in Data Science. 
i-Spaces Impact
  • These elements contribute to position i-Spaces as trusted platform for the Big Data Value ecosystem playing the role of sandbox for precompetitive Data Innovation Community: i-Spaces offer trusted and secure environment allowing Research, Education and Innovation stakeholder to innovate with data, acting as hubs to connect different stakeholders.
  • The Data Innovation community includes Data Providers (Large groups, SMEs), Data Users (Large groups, SMEs), Data Innovators (Data Scientists, Startups, web entrepreneurs) and relevant IT and Legal Services Providers.
  • IT Providers include both open source and proprietary commercial off-the-shelf solutions. These stakeholders will together experiment before ROI is proven (precompetitive) and move toward industrialization of their solutions outside i-Spaces perimeter.
  • I-Spaces allows these communities to experiment  with data, with experiment sranging from 6-month proof of concepts to 2-3 years more research oriented projects.
  • I-Spaces host data related to these experiments and encourage cross project Data exchange under strict compliance of Intellectual Property and Regulatory provisions.
  • i-Spaces may hold embedded Business Acceleration programs and Skills Developments in order to fasten new services entry onto the market. Expert community will be involved to foster entrepreneurship among large audience from very different backgrounds.