What collaboration with EIT ICT Labs means for FIRE

Imagine an environment where European research and experimentation on the future internet can flourish and where Europe can be established as a key player defining sustainable future internet concepts globally. To help turn this vision into reality, CI-FIRE and EIT ICT Labs (the European Institute of Innovation and Technology) are driving a bottom-up, community-driven collaboration.

The goal? Create a dynamic, sustainable, large-scale European experimental facility.

This collaboration brings benefits for FIRE, especially test bed facilities that are now mature enough for usage beyond the networking research community. A key advantage is building the user base by connecting European innovators with the test beds.

Why is this important? FIRE consortia typically include experts from higher education and research institutions and a few large enterprises interested in their own R&D work but less so in sustainability. What's more, these projects do not usually have the means to attract users beyond their own ecosystems. This is one of the main drivers behind efforts to seek means for sustainability for its offers after funding has stopped. Extensive work has been done by several projects in creating business models and governance structures for test bed resources, but the challenge has been to find and meet market demand with matching services.

What is the market demand? There is clear evidence of the need for a niche offering that is streamlined and tailored testing services. This market not only includes researchers, developers and educators in large institutions to push research boundaries but increasingly SMEs and even micro-entrepreneurs. This market demands presents important opportunities for FIRE, by offering access to innovative features, cutting-edge technologies that SMEs and app developers did not have access before but that is a large segment of actors.

How can EIT ICT Labs help FIRE? The target of EIT ICT Labs is to transform research results into business. This means to speed up the time to market, provide instruments and tools to increase the volume of product development, yet decreasing the risk of losses in investments made. Its FanTaaStic project has analysed the gaps that FIRE must fill before it is ready to go-to-market. These gaps include market outreach and visibility. To understand how FIRE can attract new users, especially small businesses, CI-FIRE invited SMEs and FUSION to its 1st Industry Workshop, which highlighted the urgent need to review FIRE messaging for SME target audiences. Communicating the benefits clearly and concisely is fundamental, bearing in mind that small businesses are mostly focused on getting new products to market. CI-FIRE blog post on the outcomes of the workshop.

EIT ICT Labs can play a key role here in re-packaging the FIRE offer to fit with the demand side. EIT ICT Labs offers missing competencies and resources for capitalising on the FIRE outcome. The EIT ICT Labs offers a unique Pan-European ecosystem with business developers operating at the Co-Location Centres in Berlin, Eindhoven, Helsinki,
London, Paris, Stockholm and Trento. The ecosystem provides likewise access to the European market through large companies and a wide network of investors & venture capitalists.
On their part, FIRE can facilitate and support the entire innovation cycle from product development to decision making. For EIT ICT Labs future efforts will be put to maximise the potential of boosting innovation facilitated by experimentation, early prototyping and product hardening – ideally at FIRE facilities.
The potential in FIRE for providing EIT ICT Labs a solid, versatile and triple faceted (ref. KIC knowledge triangle) infrastructure on which to build commercial services.