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TeraLab, a European data sanctuary

Les machines de TeraLab.

Projets européens H2020Over the course of three months, TeraLab was involved in two European H2020 projects on the industry of the future: MIDIH and BOOST 4.0. This confirms the role played by TeraLab—IMT’s big data and artificial intelligence platform—as a trusted third party and facilitator of experimentation. TeraLab created a safe place for these projects, far from competitive markets, where industry stakeholders could accept to share their data.

 

Data sharing is the key to opening up research in Europe,” says Anne-Sophie Taillandier. According to the director of TeraLab—IMT’s big data and AI platform—a major challenge exists in the sharing of data between industrial players and academics. For SMEs and research institutions, having access to industrial data means working on real economic and professional problems.  This is an excellent opportunity for accelerating prototypes and proofs of concept and removing scientific barriers. Yet for industrial stakeholders, the owners of the data, this sharing must not compromise security. “They want guarantees,” says the Director, who was ranked last February among the top 20 individuals driving AI in France by French business magazine L’Usine Nouvelle.

It is in this perspective of offering guarantees that the TeraLab platform joined the consortia of two European projects from the H2020 program: BOOST 4.0 (January 2018) and MIDIH (October 2017). The first project brought together 50 industrial and academic partners, including 13 pilot plants in Europe. The project is intended to create a replicable model of a smart industry in which data would form the basis for reflections on operational efficiency, user experience and even the creation of a business model. This level of ambition requires significant work on interoperability, security and data sharing. “But it is clear that Volvo and Volkswagen, both members of the Boost 4.0 consortium, will not provide access to their data without first experiencing a certain level of trust,” explains Anne-Sophie Taillandier. A platform like TeraLab allows companies to benefit from technological and legal advantages that make it a safe workspace.

The MIDIH project, on the other hand, seeks to provide companies with the technological, financial and material resources required for developing innovative solutions for the industry of the future through sub-grants. “In practical terms, the H2020 project will finance calls for projects on logistics, predictive maintenance and steel cutting and will offer support to successful applicants,” the TeraLab director explains. The companies selected through these calls for projects will be able to develop proofs of concept for solving industrial problems experienced by SMEs. They use platforms like TeraLab to accomplish this, since they “provide the assurance of the sovereignty and cybersecurity of the data the prototypes will produce.” For these companies, the ability to use an independent platform of this magnitude is truly beneficial in accelerating their projects.

A platform recognized at European level

TeraLab’s involvement in these projects is also due to the recognition it has earned at European level. In 2016, the Big Data Value Association (BDVA) granted TeraLab its Silver i-Space Label. This recognition is far from trivial, since BVDA leads the European private-public partnership on big data. BOOST 4.0 is the result of reflection carried out by this same partnership, which works to advance the major issues that industrial stakeholders have presented to the European Commission. “The context of the European Commission is incredible because many different stakeholders gravitate there, but within a given theme, everyone knows each other,” Anne-Sophie Taillandier admits. “The Silver i-Space Label awarded in 2016 provided both recognition from big data stakeholders and strategic positioning within this environment.”

In Europe, few platforms like TeraLab exist. Only ten hold the Silver i-Space Label—the highest level—held by TeraLab, the only French awardee of this recognition. It therefore represents a valuable gateway to involvement in European projects. “It legitimizes our responses to calls for bids such as these two projects on industry 4.0,” says the Director of the platform. The industry of the future is a topic TeraLab had already worked on before joining the MIDIH and BOOST 4.0 projects. “One of our strengths, which was recognized by both consortia, was our ability to develop a community of researchers and innovators on this subject,” says Anne-Sophie Taillandier. She also reminds us that the industry is not the only theme TeraLab has explored in the context of in-depth projects. This offers good prospects for TeraLab to be involved in other European projects on other specialized areas, such as healthcare.

 

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