Data-driven innovation is unlocking new opportunities for Europe to grow its economy and address pressing social challenges. While Europe has achieved some early successes in data-driven innovation, including in areas such as education, energy, environmental management, health care, open data, smart cities, and smart manufacturing, it has not yet come close to reaching its full potential. The primary obstacle is that Europe’s policymakers, both in its capital cities and in Brussels, have not yet fully embraced data-driven innovation as a core driver of economic and social progress. To inject new leadership into this debate, Member States should appoint national chief data officers to not only champion data innovation domestically, but also serve on a new, independent advisory panel charged with counseling the European Commission on how to seize opportunities to innovate with data.
Paul MacDonnell was formerly head of European policy at the Center for Data Innovation in Brussels. Prior to joining the Center Paul represented Insurance Ireland, the insurance industry trade association, in Dublin and Brussels and managed the industry's response to policy, legislative and regulatory developments. Paul began his career with Hill & Knowlton’s government affairs division in London where he provided advice to a number of Fortune 500 companies. In 2001 he co-founded an economic policy forum in Dublin, Open Republic, which, as well as hosting events aimed at policy-makers and politicians on such issues as pensions, taxation and the EU, was the Irish publisher of the Economic Freedom of the World Report. Paul has extensive broadcast and print media experience, and he holds a degree in Medieval English literature and philosophy from Trinity College Dublin and an MBA from University College Dublin.