Data Set project partner meeting no.2 – Spain

Sep 18, 2019
Partners pose with the DataSet logo

From the 30th to the 31st of May, 2019, the DataSET project consortium paid a visit to the birthplace of Cervantes, a World Heritage Site which transcends the 16th century spirit through its early Renaissance architecture – Alcala de Henares, Spain. With a warm welcome from the representatives of Universidad de Alcala, the consortium held the second transnational partner meeting to share the progress and discuss the future of the project.

The two-day programme provided the participants with the opportunity to discuss the status-quo of the development of the intellectual outputs, dissemination efforts and plans for the sustainability of the project.

Output 1 – VET Guide to Data Skills Development

We are delighted to announce that the first output of the project – the VET Guide to Data Skills Development has been finalized. The representative from the partner, coordinating the creation of the guide (Sonia Naiba, Momentum) presented the final version of the guide to the consortium. The guide aims to raise the awareness of the value of the data skills for current and future entrepreneurs and to analyze what contemporary data skills are already known to the entrepreneurs and business advisors. In addition, the guide summarizes the strategies for teaching data skills to entrepreneurs, including the best practices.

Specifically, the guide gives the overview of the following:

  1. i) The results of a data skills survey, outlining the current skills and skills deficits of business trainers and advisors in participating countries;
  2. ii) Review of the policy environment regarding data skills for entrepreneurs and data skills education, at both EU and national and regional level;

iii) An introduction to strategies for teaching data skills to entrepreneurs, including best practice examples and testimonies.

The guide is in open access and can be downloaded here

Output 2 – DataSet Open Education Resources

The DataSet Open Education Resources will comprise of a curriculum, trainer’s guide and a suite of interactive online learning materials which enable teachers and trainers to enhance entrepreneur’s data skills in classrooms and small group training. The Leading partner of this intellectual output, Universidad de Alcala and its representative (Miguel Ángel Sicilia Urbán, a Data Scientist himself), presented the draft methodology for the data skills training model and led an extensive discussion on the DataSET curriculum with the consortium. Resulting in almost finalized draft, all the partners are to pilot test the curriculum in small group session with business advisors and entrepreneurs in fall 2019.

The training model and its accompanying resources will be testes during the Train the Trainers Learning Activity in Denmark to be held in April 2020.

Output 3 – DataSet Online Course

In the meeting the partners discussed the preliminary plans of translating the open educational resources, created as a part of the previous DataSet output, into an online interactive learning course for the entrepreneurs at all stages of their business development. Self-paced and open to virtually anybody, the course will open the opportunities for popularizing the acquisition of data skills among wider European (and international) population.

In addition to the talks about the intellectual outputs, the partners have briefly discussed the future arrangements for the learning week, dissemination and exploitation plans and administrative issues regarding the project’s implementation phase.

Overall, the meeting was a success in terms of its outcomes, supported by the generous hospitality of the host partner. The partners enjoyed the traditional central Spanish cuisine and its famous tapas and a view of a historic city center of Alcala de Henares.  The next partner meeting is planned to take place in Leitrim, Ireland on 10-11 October, 2019.

EU Data Policy-Making: from Open Access to Developing Data Economy

Aug 28, 2019

The development of computer technology and digitalization made it possible to mine and store a massive amount of data. It allows businesses to identify new trends which can be used to make better decisions and seize new opportunities.

Big data has become a powerful driver for economic growth, competitiveness, innovation, job creation and societal progress. The EU aims to reap the full benefits of “big data fever” and maintain steady growth of Digital Single Market. According to the recent study (, the value of EU big data was more than €376 billion in 2018, accounting for 2.6 % of the EU GDP. With time-bound policy measures and favorable legal conditions, the value of the EU data economy can more than double by 2025 and represent more than 6 % of the overall EU GDP ( Big data brings new opportunities and the EU is acting fast to bring predictable rules of games to the table.

 The need for decisive steps and concrete actions firstly emerged in 2003 when the re-use of open public sector information (PSI) became legal for commercial and other purposes ( It established a minimum set of rules and the beginning of ‘open data’ era. Transparency and fair competition became key components of the ‘PSI Directive’ (Directive 2003/98/EC) The focus of this initiative was primarily economic and it had a great impact on the further development of new services based on novel ways to combine and make use of public sector information (PSI). Open data policy came into force.

The next big stepping-stone was the launch of the EU strategy ‘Towards a thriving data-driven economy’ in July, 2014 ( It was acknowledged that “data is at the centre of the future knowledge economy and society” and an action plan was adopted. It was based on the following pillars: community building and developing framework conditions for the single EU big data market. Fostering open data policies, E-infrastructure, Internet of Things (IoT) and personal data protection issues were covered in the new EU strategy on the data-driven economy (2014). A special attention was paid to the development of relevant data skills and infrastructures to the benefit of SMEs (

Developing a common European data space and economy, the EU faced three main obstacles to data mobility within the EU in 2017-2018. Among them, unjustified restrictions to free flow of non-personal data from Member States, legal uncertainties and lack of trust from main actors. According to the survey (2014) ( ), 38 % of SMEs in the EU-28 lacked trust in data mobility due to security risks. As a result, the Commission organized a number of public consultations with stakeholders to address the existing issues. As a result, the EU adopted a set of measures (outlined in Communication on “Building a European data economy”) to make a free flow of non-personal data across borders available and regulate new data technologies in terms of data access, portability and liability. Data privacy regulation was also put on the policy agenda, resulting in the adoption of GDPR and ePrivacy legislation. These measures were designed to enhance digital trust and protect the data privacy for EU citizens (

The big data agenda transformed from an open access data issue to building a common European data economy throughout the past 15 years. Even though the efforts of EU policy-makers were intensified, the central concern has been still the same: the EU can lose its competitive advantage of a Digital Single Market if it does not build a data-friendly regulatory framework. European SMEs have a risk of losing the competition in global markets if they have limited access to data analytics and data. Financing and the relevan data skills are particularly big difficulties to SMEs that do not have enough resources to invest in the data infrastructure and analytical tools. The EU should take a more proactive approach to support digital transition and further develop the European Data Economy.

Image credit:

Written by Aleksei Simonov, UIIN

The New VET Guide to Data Skills Development – Momentum

Aug 8, 2019


In today’s digital, connected world, the savviness with which entrepreneurs employ information and communication technologies is essential to competitiveness. However, while digital communication skills have improved across the population generally, the ability to leverage information, especially data, is still underdeveloped. This is a lost opportunity: the volume of data that business owners have access to has grown exponentially and if “big” data is turned into actionable “smart” data, it can drive productivity, innovation and growth.

The EU states that “data-driven business models are the engine of Europe’s growth, industrial transformation and job creation”, which is part of its commitment to the digitalization of the economy.

One of the benefits is that businesses responding to smart data can improve products and services, which would, in turn, generate economic growth while contributing to social progress. However, micro-enterprises and SMEs, which make up 99% of businesses, still lag in digital technologies. Micro-enterprises and SMEs must develop data skills or risk being uncompetitive, if the European economy is to flourish.

Nevertheless, there is an obstacle: today’s entrepreneurship teachers and trainers also face a data skills deficit. The majority entered the workforce before big data existed and there is currently no reliable source of training to help them boost their own skills. Prior to the start of the Data set project, East Belfast Enterprise conducted a small survey across 28 Local Enterprise Agencies in the Enterprise NI Network which found that “52% of business advisors said they were completely unaware of the range of data that is available and 70% rated their own knowledge of data skills as poor.”

About the VET Guide

The objective of the Guide is to raise awareness regarding the value of data skills for current and future entrepreneurs and increase knowledge of what contemporary data skills are and how they can be taught.

The Guide presents a comprehensive introduction to the role of data skills in VET and includes the results of a data skills survey, outlining the current skills and skills deficits of business trainers and advisors in participating countries, a  review of the policy environment regarding data skills for entrepreneurs and data skills education, at both EU and national and regional level and an introduction to strategies for teaching data skills to entrepreneurs, including best practice examples and testimonies.

Needs Analysis Assessment

The basis of the VET Guide is a needs assessment, which is a systematic process for determining and addressing needs, or “gaps” between current conditions and desired conditions or “wants” of a specific group. The chosen method for conducting the Data Skills Needs of Business Trainers and Advisors in Ireland, Northern Ireland/UK, Spain, Netherlands and Denmark was an Internet survey. This method was selected because it allows for a more diverse survey sample as survey link was widely shared online, it is a low-cost, fast and efficient method and the extensive networks of the partners allowed for a ready-made pool of participants.

The survey was made up of 12 short questions, it had a 100% completion rate and it was completed by 33 Business Advisors from 5 countries (Ireland, Northern Ireland/UK, Spain, Netherlands and Denmark).

Needs Analysis Survey Results

Data Skills proficiency is quite low among business advisors, with only 21% of those surveyed feeling their skills are proficient. The acquisition of Data Skills is of great importance to business advisors. 81% of those surveyed indicated that they would be interested in receiving/accessing free training and/or practical resources that they could use to teach entrepreneurs and SME owners about applicable data skills to their businesses.

Business Advisors today favour a Hands-On approach to providing business support therefore our data set materials should be very practical in nature and be solution oriented. Five key areas were identified where business advisors need upskilling with regard to digital skills and also 5 key areas which are particularly relevant for SME’s  – these are ranked in order of importance in the table below:

Data Skills for Business Advisors Data Skills for SME’s and Business Owners
Data/Information Analysis Application of Data to solve problems/inform business ideas
Reporting Skills Communication Skills
Application of Data to solve problems/inform business ideas Data/Information Analysis
Data Collection Creative Thinking


Technical/Digital Skills Technical/Digital Skills


The VET Guide also includes a section that goes in depth with regard to the Policy Environment regarding Data Skills for Entrepreneurs and Data Skills Education in the UK, Ireland, Spain, the Netherlands and Denmark, as well as a section dedicated to Strategies for Teaching Data Skills to Entrepreneurs.

The main goals of the VET Guide to Data Skills Development are to raise awareness of the value of data skills for business advisors and entrepreneurs and approaches for the delivery of data skills training and to lay the foundation for the data set Open Education Resources, which will consist of a curriculum, trainers’ guide and suite of interactive online learning materials which will enable teachers and trainers to enhance entrepreneurs’ data skills in classroom and small group training as well as for the data set Online Course, which will consist of a multilingual, interactive learning course in which entrepreneurs at all stages of entrepreneurial activity can learn more and put data skills into practice.

More detailed information regarding the findings of the online survey are available in the VET Guide, which can be accessed in its entirety on the project website.