Thierry Breton, European Commissioner for the Internal Market, presented a three-step plan around the continent’s metaverse ambitions, while announcing the launch of a VR and AR coalition to encourage investment in the sector.
Thierry Breton explained that the metaverse is one of the most pressing challenges for the European Commission (EC) and that its plan to advance the virtual world will focus on people, technology and infrastructure. It is certainly his experience as CEO of the Atos group that he transformed from 2009 to 2019 that comes to the fore again 🙂 He stated that the new environment “must integrate European values from the start”, with private virtual worlds developed on based on interoperable standards and “no private actor” who actually has all the power or sets the conditions. Innovators and technologies must be allowed to flourish unimpeded, with the EC not tolerating new private monopolies.
Shaping the metaverse depends on its ability to master and develop advanced technologies in Europe, and to build a sustainable ecosystem. The EC has officially launched the VR and AR Industrial Coalition, first announced in 2020, bringing together stakeholders from key metaverse technologies. The coalition will focus on a specific roadmap, endorsed by more than 40 EU companies, spanning large organisations, SMEs and universities.
Europe invested in a number of metaverse-related technologies, including photonics, semiconductors and new materials, and said it needed to pool European, national and private funding to really advance its vision. The EC will focus on building a resilient connectivity infrastructure. The amount of data exchanged in virtual spaces will be greater than ever, putting “intensive pressure” on the connectivity infrastructure.
Emphasizing the challenge despite increasing amounts of data being transported across infrastructure, but declining revenues had reduced the willingness to invest and build. To that end, the EC will call on all market players benefiting from the digital transformation to make an equitable contribution to goods, services and infrastructure.
At the same time, the European Union opened its new office in San Francisco, California, a global center for digital technology and innovation. The agency will strengthen EU cooperation with the US on digital diplomacy and strengthen the EU’s ability to reach out to key public and private stakeholders, including policy makers, business and civil society in the digital technology sector.
With around €127 billion for digital reforms and investments, this represents an unprecedented opportunity to accelerate digital transformation, which the EU and its Member States should not miss. Mainly because there is progress globally, but digital skills, SMBs and 5G networks are lagging behind. Finland, Denmark, the Netherlands and Sweden remain the EU favourites. But even they face gaps in key areas: the adoption of advanced digital technologies, such as AI and big data, remains below 30% and a long way from the 75% digital decade target by 2030; widespread skills shortages, which slow down overall progress and lead to digital exclusion.
Only 54% of Europeans aged 16-74 have at least basic digital skills. What have all states done since the 2000s in terms of training, education for digital life? Not sure if the attack plan on the metaverse has priority if no one knows how to use it! Which is not the case for an entire generation already present in various metaverses such as Roblox, the SandBox …
Slide of my revamped Metaverse presentation.
In August, Roblox hit a record high of 59.9 MM DAUs and 4.7 billion hours of on-platform engagement (Roblox also ranks 4th on YouTube, the largest video platform… ever) pic.twitter.com/dvs5X0y5kZ
— Matthew Ball (@ballmatthew) September 16, 2022
VR/AR Industry Coalition
The VR/AR Industry Coalition was first announced in 2020 in the Commission’s media and audiovisual action plan to boost cooperation between industrial sectors and ensure European leadership. A series of stakeholder workshops took place from November 2021 to February 2022 and resulted in a market assessment that identified the key challenges and opportunities for the European VR/AR sector. The document outlines the extent to which VR/AR is currently deployed in the media sector and the goals for optimal deployment to be achieved by 2026. It includes policy and industry actions needed to facilitate the deployment of these technologies and overcome industry fragmentation.