Unleashing the Power of PSI Data: Fuelling the EU Startup Ecosystem

Exploring how the European Union's shift from the Public Sector Information (PSI) Directive to the Open Data Directive can ignite innovation and growth within the startup sector.

Key Takeaways:

  • The transition from the Public Sector Information (PSI) Directive to the Open Data Directive by the EU can catalyse economic growth, spur artificial intelligence development and tackle societal challenges.
  • The open data market in the EU forms a vital pillar of the broader EU data economy, with the direct economic value of PSI projected to surge from €52 billion in 2018 to €194 billion in 2030.
  • Barriers currently inhibiting the full exploitation of PSI include coverage exclusion of certain sectors, rare provision of real-time access to dynamic data, unreasonable charges for data re-use, and the risk of public sector data lock-in due to private sector arrangements.
  • The revised Directive aims to mitigate these barriers by limiting exceptions to charges, expanding the scope to include data from previously excluded sectors, and promoting dynamic data dissemination.
  • High-value datasets hold immense commercial potential, creating opportunities for startups and SMEs to enter new markets and offer data-driven products and services.

An Era of Open Data: The EU’s Big Leap Forward

In April 2018, the European Commission proposed a revision of the PSI Directive, intended to facilitate the creation of a common data space in the EU. This transition is not merely a bureaucratic reshuffle but a significant step towards realising the economic and societal potential of open data, with far-reaching implications for the European startup landscape.

With the new Directive, known as the Open Data Directive, all public sector information becomes available for re-use under national access to document rules, limited mostly to marginal cost charges. This shift promises to level the playing field for startups and small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), reducing entry barriers and encouraging innovation.

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Overcoming Barriers: The Recast Objectives

The proposed revision of the PSI Directive came in response to several identified obstacles preventing the full re-use of public sector information. The newly enacted Open Data Directive strives to overcome these barriers with specific objectives designed to unleash the potential of PSI data.

Crucially, the new Directive aims to increase the availability of data by including public undertakings in the utilities, transport sectors, and publicly funded research data in its scope. This expansion offers a treasure trove of data for startups, enhancing their capabilities to develop innovative, data-driven products and services.

Charging structures for the re-use of public sector data have also been reviewed. Recognising that high charges constitute a significant barrier for SMEs, the Directive now limits the instances where public bodies can charge more than the marginal costs of dissemination. This provision could spur a surge in demand for public sector data, translating into more innovation and business growth.

The Directive also addresses the issue of public sector data “lock-in” through agreements with private companies. Safeguards have been put in place to ensure more transparency and to limit exclusive re-use of public sector data by private partners. This change stands to benefit startups and SMEs, who were often side-lined in favour of larger companies under the previous arrangements.

Leveraging High-Value Datasets

The Open Data Directive places particular emphasis on high-value datasets, such as statistics or geospatial data. These datasets hold significant commercial potential and can fast-track the emergence of a wide array of value-added information products and services. Startups and SMEs can now capitalise on these resources to explore new market opportunities and enhance their offerings.

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Another pivotal aspect of the new Directive is the focus on real-time data. Made available via Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), real-time data can enable companies, particularly startups, to develop innovative products and services like mobility apps. Moreover, the inclusion of publicly funded research data in the Directive’s scope presents an untapped well of potential for startup innovation.

The Future of PSI Data and EU Startups

The transition from the PSI Directive to the Open Data Directive signifies a vital shift in the EU’s approach to data management and availability. By placing emphasis on openness, inclusivity, and transparency, the new Directive sets the stage for a more dynamic and robust EU startup ecosystem.

With the unlocking of high-value datasets, the levelling of entry barriers, and the fostering of a more equitable data economy, startups now have an unprecedented opportunity to tap into the vast reserves of PSI data. This change can fuel innovation, drive economic growth, and empower startups to play a pivotal role in shaping the EU’s digital future.

The EU’s bold step towards an open data culture embodies the essence of the European digital decade, signifying a commitment to building a sustainable, human-centric digital society. It stands as an invitation for startups to join this digital revolution, wielding the power of PSI data to create value, solve societal challenges, and shape a prosperous digital future.


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