The Federation of BDVA i-Spaces: the builders of European data economy

European Data Innovation Spaces, or i-Spaces in short, have been a fundamental part of the Big Data Value Association’s story from the very beginning. Early on, the BDVA community realised that a tool is needed to support businesses and researchers to extract value out of data. For this purpose, BDVA created the i-Space label to recognize data-driven innovation hubs with the latest knowledge, skills, data assets and software. By federating these qualified incubators, BDVA creates a flow of services and data to boost innovation in EU member states and makes a path to European data spaces. This federation of BDVA i-Spaces is now implemented by the EUHubs4Data project.


What are the BDVA i-Spaces?


The i-Spaces are considered by BDVA a key instrument to foster data-driven innovation in Europe. Having state of the art resources and the highest expertise, they become central points for regional technology businesses to develop their products. The BDVA hubs give means for the startups and SMEs to run data experimentation and accelerate the adoption of AI with cutting-edge technology and best practices. The BDVA i-Space label also connects the hubs, enterprises and innovators to other European organizations for collaboration. Without these networks, a fluent European data economy could not happen.

The idea for the i-Space label was outlined already in the first version of the BDVA Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda in 2014 and the label was created in the following year. Since the first open call in 2016, the group has grown steadily from 5 to 35 recognised i-Spaces, covering 21 European countries.

Hubs applying for the i-Space label undergo a thorough evaluation of maturity. During the process, BDVA measures the infrastructure, services, projects, applications, impact and business strategy of the hubs. Based on the scoring, the recognized hubs are labelled in three categories: bronze, silver and gold. Open call for the i-Space label is organised yearly. 


Forming the federation of BDVA i-Spaces


Throughout its history, BDVA has driven the establishment of the i-Spaces federation. It has been developed through the sharing of information and good practices, organization of joint events, and shaping the strategy of the collaboration. In 2019, the BDVA i-Spaces successfully leveraged Horizon 2020 funding and formed EUHubs4Data - Federation of Data-Driven Innovation Hubs. The project lays the foundation for the federation and functions as a reference instrument for growth in the global data economy. 

EUHubs4Data has a catalogue of federated services, datasets and training offered by the i-Spaces. By providing the assets, the project stimulates the participation of start-ups and SMEs in the EU data economy, while developing a model for the governance of the federation. The framework and the use cases are crucial pieces for constructing the common European data spaces.

Through the federation, the i-Spaces are tightly attached to the BDVA community and European ecosystem, which includes organisations, research and innovation projects, small and large companies, and national and EU-level policy-makers. For example, being part of the Data Spaces Business Alliance, BDVA has brought the i-Spaces together with an even wider network of hubs, making a remarkable leap in the development of data spaces.

EUHubs4Data aims to be the first step in the establishment of a European federation of Data-Driven Innovation Hubs. It is one of the biggest and most successful projects of Big Data Value PPP, supporting also the other data platform projects by consolidating assets for everyone to use.  The project will end in 2023, but in collaboration with its partners, the BDVA community will keep on developing the federation, ensuring it will continue working and operating after.


Are you interested in hearing more about the BDVA i-Spaces, the labelling process or our work with the hubs? Contact us at!