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New digital sovereignty standards open up business opportunities

As part of its efforts to reduce risk while boosting European innovation, the EU is investing heavily in digital sovereignty, which has now reached a new stage of great interest to businesses.  

Your phone has it. Probably your car keys too, and maybe soon your fridge. As more and more products become connected, semiconductors are becoming a critical component. And, as the pandemic supply disruption showed, they are mostly made outside Europe.

For the time being.  

Europe's dependence makes many companies vulnerable

Because right now, until the end of 2023 and the next few years, work is underway on the European Chips Act, an EU initiative to support European semiconductor manufacturing. At the same time, security work is underway on RISC-V, and these are just two of the many elements of the EU's digital sovereignty programme.

"Europe is currently dependent on the outside world for both hardware and software," says Björn Forsberg, a researcher at RISE.

"A large part of European companies' value chains cannot be filled with European technology or European services in the current situation. This makes both companies and countries vulnerable, which is what the Digital Sovereignty initiative aims to address."

Firstly, to reduce threats: no one wants to be in the situation we were in during the pandemic, when European companies had difficulties in obtaining critical components. Nor does anyone want to risk being blackmailed in a trade war. Second, to give a real boost to European innovation in the digital sector.

"These efforts, especially in the area of open source, will bring huge benefits to the European economy because common standards make it easier to collaborate on research and innovation. Now everyone doesn't have to reinvent the wheel for every project, but can work together much more easily."

If you jump in now, you don't have to solve the fundamental problems, but you have every opportunity to influence the standards of the future.

Defining standards is an opportunity for research and business 

And it's not just about semiconductors. The focus on digital sovereignty covers a wide range of things: GDPR legislation to ensure that European data does not fall into the wrong hands, work on RISC-V to strengthen data security, but also investment in standards, open source and other software. Björn Forsberg says that although the work on digital sovereignty is a few years old, it is now entering the really exciting phase from a business perspective.  

"Right now we are in a very interesting time, both in terms of hardware and software design, because the standard is being defined. This means huge opportunities for Swedish research and Swedish companies, but you can't just sit back and wait."

It's a call that applies to all industries, whether it's self-driving trucks or microchips. But what do you have to do to influence the development? Björn Forsberg says you have to start with yourself, find out what your needs are, how the current ecosystem meets them and what is missing.

"Then it's time to get involved, or at least inform yourself about how this ecosystem should be built to be as attractive as possible. The most important thing is not to be on the outside looking in, because if you are on the outside looking in on big emerging standards, sooner or later you will be overtaken."

It is good to have an outside perspective to find new business opportunities 

Getting to grips with the digital sovereignty initiative is not the easiest thing to do, precisely because it covers such a wide range of areas. RISE has specialists in virtually all the areas involved. That means not only expertise, but also business intelligence and an understanding of how all these pieces fit together.

"Even if companies know their own business best, it can be good to get an outside perspective on the whole. Otherwise, there is a risk that companies will only look for solutions to problems they already have, but miss all the opportunities that exist if they look at the whole picture."

And Björn Forsberg believes that waiting is a risky strategy.

"If you jump in now, you avoid solving the fundamental problems, but at the same time you have every opportunity to influence future standards. On the other hand, if you wait a few years, you won't be involved in developing the standards that will dominate the ecosystems for a long time to come. That is when things can really get done."

Björn Forsberg

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Björn Forsberg

+46 10 228 43 82

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