Supporting the use of “big data” in local SMEs

Drenthe is a rural region with about 40.000 companies, 95 % of which are SMEs. A joint effort of both inhabitants and local governments is under way to construct a fibre optic infrastructure to bring superfast internet to the area. Due to its relative remoteness, the region faces large differences in SMEs’ economic performances. Thus, an effective use and uptake of data solutions for SMEs is vital for the economic competitiveness of the region. In its COM3 regional pilot, the Province of Drenthe seeks to develop solutions that aim to enable and facilitate the use of “big data” by SMEs in the region. To do so, the province is identifying key strategic companies and organizations active in the area of digitalisation. It is exploring new methods to mine both structured and unstructured datasets and to make them accessible for use by SMEs and other actors in society. Furthermore, the pilot includes an innovation tenure track using the method of “data journalism” to find new coherences in economic data, test and validate new means of data recovery (i.e. webscraping) and develop new algorithms to establish reliable data fit for public use.