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Innovation Updated: 22 Aug 2017

FI-WARE: The foundations of the digital future in Europe?

The FI-WAR project will be undertaken over a period of five years with the support and collaboration of 152 entities (public and private) and an investment of 600 million euros.

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In 2011, The European Commission and the leading technology companies in Europe signed an ambitious public-private partnership agreement known as 'Future Internet - Public Private Partnership#39; which includes several projects. One of them, which would also provide the technological foundation for the rest, originated with a very specific goal: to build an infrastructure in the cloud that would become the benchmark for the development and deployment of web applications and services over the coming years, thus contributing to the development of the European ICT sector and the promotion of the EU’s role in the global digital economy. To do so, the specifications of the APIs offered by this platform should be open and royalty-free, which would contribute to their reuse and the introduction of standards.

This is how FI-WARE was born, a project that will be carried out over a period of five years with the support and collaboration of 152 entities (public and private) and an investment of 600 million euros (funded 50/50 by the European Commission and large corporations like Telefónica, Thales, Siemens, Orange and IBM). The scale of the project gives an idea of the Commission’s commitment to this platform.

FI-Lab, a laboratory for FI-WARE

Also offered as part of the FI-WARE platform is FI-Lab, an "innovation laboratory" where developers can test freely (and free of charge) the potential offered by the platform’s technologies and, in the future, build an open innovation ecosystem. Thus, for example, the collaborating entities will be able to dump their open data so that entrepreneurs can develop applications based on that information. It is precisely this possibility for the cities using FI-Lab to dump their open data that underlies another of the European Commission’s commitments to innovation: the European Innovation Partnership Plan for Smart Cities and Communities.

It is worth noting that some of the first data centers to support FI-Lab are maintained by the Spanish public entity and are spread throughout Spain (Seville, Malaga, Las Palmas and Santander). The EU is planning to increase the number of data centers in other European countries through the XiFi project.

Criticism of the project

However, voices have also been raised against the cost of the FI-WARE project and the initiative itself, which is being accused of joining the “big talk” trend (very common in 2.0 circles): entire sections on its website full of buzz words (Cloud, Internet of Things, Big Data...) and general descriptions which fail to explain what is actually being offered by FI-WARE.

As for the cost, there is criticism that the fundamental reason for the inflated budget allocated to this project is the fact that all the application developments for the FI-WARE platform have taken place in the framework of the hackathones funded by the Commission itself. So far, no technology has survived only thanks to subsidies and in the absence of a user community committed to it for being best suited to its needs.