FIWARE: Towards a more open European Community Going Global
Since its initial launch in 2011, the FIWARE community turned into a global ecosystem gathering developers, innovation hubs, accelerators, cities, SMEs and startups to foster the development of digital innovative solutions.
The FIWARE community
In order to better understand what the FIWARE community is, let’s step back a bit and see where it comes from.
It all started with the Future Internet Public Private Partnership Programme (FI-PPP) launched in 2011 by the European Commission (EC). Willing to set the stage for a sustainable open source platform enabling a community to develop and disseminate the digital solutions of the future, the European Commission encouraged a close collaboration between ICT players. As a result, four early contributors joined forces (Orange, Telefonica, Engineering and Atos) to foster the development of Smart Applications addressing different verticals (Smart City, Smart Agrifood and Industry 4.0) by establishing a set of Generic Enablers (GE) that developers can easily use to efficiently develop smart apps.
From a community to an ecosystem
6 years after being launched, FIWARE has grown into an integrated ecosystem made of a platform, a foundation, a lab, an accelerator programme, a community of developers, focused geographical points of FIWARE activities (iHubs) and a dedicated programme to disseminate in the rest of the world (FIWARE Mundus).
Figures are staggering: over 1000 SMEs and Startups have participated in a FIWARE Call that 16 accelerators supported to test the FIWARE ecosystem. Concretely, the FIWARE accelerator programme, alongside a dedicated EC awareness-raising campaign, supported entrepreneurs, startups and SMEs to help them embrace FIWARE technologies leading to the development of market ready products such as data access and management platforms. As concrete indicators of success 90+ cities labelled as Open & Agile Smart Cities (OASC) are implementing FIWARE solutions to digitalise their services, an MoU with I-Hubs in Morocco and Africa are being adopted, and several initiatives in India and China regarding Smart Cities are in progress. Today, the demand to provide commercial nodes to enhance FIWARE and enable the industrial penetration of FIWARE technologies seems to be essential. Orange as a core member of the FIWARE foundation is testing the way to move from a sand box to a concrete commercial suite of FIWARE services. Some internal FIWARE-based software initiatives are already being hosted on the Brittany FIWARE Node where a transversal team managed by the FIWARE leader (Orange Technocenter) is seeking to develop and propose evolutions toward a commercial FIWARE Service by Orange.
In addition, the FIWARE ecosystem supports the uptake of the technologies developed by its members. In the end, there is a virtuous circle fuelled by the FIWARE community from the creation to the adoption of these innovative solutions.
A key feature of FIWARE explains why it has become so successful and gained traction rapidly: its openness. All FIWARE technologies are developed under open standards, which later on ease the adoption and further improvements within the community of stakeholders. It also ensures the portability and interoperability of services across Europe.
The next steps
Given its potential, it is no surprise that FIWARE recently benefited from the ‘Connecting Europe Facility’ (CEF) scheme, with € 1.04 billion earmarked for trans-European digital services for 2014-2020. CEF is a key EU funding instrument to facilitate cross-border interaction between public administrations, businesses and citizens, by deploying digital service infrastructures (DSIs).
The FIWARE ecosystem works as a catalyst for economic opportunities, empowering European actors and their partners in the rest of the world to fully reap the benefits of the digital revolution. The next FIWARE Summit, with 300 participants from 18 countries, to be held in Utrecht next 29-31 May, will be an opportunity to gather the many different stakeholders involved. Orange experts will indeed be there.