Drawing on the existing capacity in AI, big data and analytics, associated with SFI research centres, there is a clear opportunity to develop a virtual ‘Living Lab’ within the region. As part of a European network, this will enable iterative testing of new ideas across the region, offering a single point of contact to coordinate data research at scale in a living lab. A key enabler at a global level for a living lab as a data testbed is the protections offered by GDPR as the main English speaking country within the EU.
Indeed, while our reliance on technology increases, our trust in it has not kept pace, creating a potential problem for adopting new technologies. As the only English-speaking country in the EU, there is an opportunity to use GDPR as a barrier to entry and find solutions to a global challenge. Creating a policy, legal, ethical and data expertise and an associated regulatory testbed framework will create a competitive advantage in data protection and become a beachhead for innovation in protecting the individual’s data rights. This opportunity can include data security and data sharing and potentially future data value/monetisation frameworks.
This challenge has arisen from a report commissioned by the WDC to identify opportunities for competitive advantage in the region. We have identified an emerging competence in IT and fintech that needs to be nurtured. Furthermore, our analysis tells us that IT is likely to become a significant disrupter of MedTech. This is an area in which Galway has an established engineering cluster but may lack some of the key B2C skills in IT that would facilitate diversification into connected health. Barriers to connected health include skills, trust and regulation. A centre for data security, privacy and trust has the potential to position our region at the forefront of the next wave of disruptive innovation while also contributing to society.
We believe that a living lab focussed on trust and privacy would create project-based courses, research studies, case studies and enable viable business start-ups.