The efficiency and competitiveness of public institutions and private companies alike depends increasingly on computer-generated data. To benefit from them, universities and other research institutions, health care providers, all levels of the public administration and businesses of all types must rely on state-of-the-art infrastructures and services that enable efficient, safe and sustainable usage of large amounts of data.
In Styria, as in other regions of the EU, companies and public institutions aware of the advantages of extracting and exploiting information contained in data have created solutions tailored to their needs, but these isolated initiatives have until now involved only a few actors and the region as a whole does not benefit from them. This fragmented approach has far-reaching consequences: solutions to similar problems developed in parallel make it impossible to harness the advantages of "economies of scale"—of particular importance for data infrastructures—and thereby severely limit data interoperability; in consequence, this prevents cooperation among interested stakeholders.
The alternative to isolated solutions, i.e. joint initiatives, is already being pursued at European scale (e.g. EOSC, GAIA-X), but these do not exclude---and in fact usually require---national or regional measures to implement them. The need to build EU-wide infrastructures has been acknowledged also by two of the main European associations around data, the EU-funded High Performance Computing Joint Undertaking and its private counterpart the Big Data Value Association, but they have also explicitly said that these must be complemented with agile initiatives at regional- and domain-specific level connected with central hubs using their basic principles and standards. Among other benefits, a joint regional initiative would enable to pool resources from EU and other sources for building and running the necessary infrastructure, and enable the exploitation of synergies among stakeholders.
But construction of data infrastructures is by itself not enough: while most existing initiatives in Styria and elsewhere have understandably focused on the (very expensive) physical and technical aspects, the equally important human and social side is often neglected. Data require a high performance, technically advanced infrastructure; however, this is useless if the policies, governance, skills training, support services, and knowledge transfer required to operate it are missing. It has thus become clear that any regional approach in Styria aimed at facing the growing demand of data-related resources must encompass an integrated technical infrastructure together with the human resources, governance and legal tools if it is to succeed in the endeavour.
Styria enjoys an above-average density of highly innovative companies and clusters in high-value sectors (e.g. automotive, semiconductor, sustainable and human technology), competence centres (especially the data-focused Know-Center GmbH), universities and universities of applied sciences, as well as the highest R&D investment rate/GDP ratio in the EU which makes it one of the leading European research and innovation locations. In the field of research data management (RDM), in particular, there are already various activities at the project partners (e.g. Digitale TU Graz, in German), including joint initiatives such as BioTechMed, Alp-Lab, BioBank, BBMRI-ERIC, RRBM.at. For example, unique clinical data sets available at the Medical University of Graz are essential for various Styrian companies to develop products.
A common strategy for data, information and knowledge management between universities, industry and public institutions is therefore essential for any future development of Styria as a location for science and business. IDE@S is thus born with the overall goal of contributing to this aims and increase the attractiveness of Styria as a research and development location. The future implementation of the results in IDE@S will improve the competitiveness for Styrian universities and companies by conceiving a secure, efficient, and collaborative data infrastructure for the archival, communication and processing of large amounts of data. We are sure that IDE@S will become a model for Austria and other innovative European regions.