In recent year large data centers have been established in Europe

Especially the Nordic countries with their cool climate, stable and green energy supply and highly skilled work forces have been successful in attracting large data centers from some of the leading players in the new data driven economy e.g. Apple, Facebook and Google.

But much more data centers will follow. The future of business and society is digital and data driven and requires massive data storage and processing capacity. Recent forecasts predict that more than 60 large scale data centers will have to be constructed in Europe before 2020. Furthermore a massive need for smaller and medium sized co-location data centers is expected to occur. Altogether these expected developments will create more than 350.000 new jobs across Europe.

Attracting data centers make out a promising potential for boosting local economy and job creation for regions and municipalities. However, the competition is fierce – and if first successful, exchanging a data center investment to local growth and jobs, requires an active and persistent approach from local authorities and other a broad range of stakeholders in regional development.

In Oxford Research we are among the leading experts when it comes to knowledge on data centers and regional development.  We have been involved in several regional and local development projects, feasibility studies and strategic analyses on data centers wide across the Nordic countries.

We help governments, regional and local authorities and business development agencies in measuring and assessing:

  • What does it take to attract a data center? In Oxford Research we have deep knowledge on what factor conditions and localization factors that are decisive for attracting both large and small data centers. We are experienced in assessing the realistic potentials of specific regions and locations in attracting data centers.
  • What impact does a data center actually have on regional or local economy and development? We offer assessments and impact studies of the socio-economic impact of data centers on regions and communities. We have conducted case studies of the local impact of data centers in several locations in both Europe and the US of including impacts of both construction as well as operation phase.
  • What opportunities and challenges data centers bring to local communities? Our research shows, that data centers often brings many new opportunities but also many challenges to the region and local communities they are situated in. This can range from lack and drainage of skilled labour to poor communication resulting in mistrust and opposition from the local community. We can help you mapping challenges and assess needed actions to prepare for a coming data center to avoid the many pitfalls.
  • How can regions and municipality secure local growth and benefits? Large data centers represent huge investment and spending in both construction and operational phases. However, our experiences clearly show that leveraging a data center investment to really boost local economy requires a proactive, persistent and strategic approach. In Oxford Research, we are experts in assessing how regions, municipalities and communities can secure that data centers actually do contribute to local growth and we are ready to help you designing the needed strategies and action plans.

Our references include projects related to some of the largest data centers in Europe:

  • Apple’s data center in Viborg, Denmark,
  • Google’s data center in Hamina, Finland
  • Google’s data center in Mons, Belgium
  • Facebook’s data center in Luleå, Sweden.

Conclusion

Based on the analysis, Oxford Research has identified specific recommendations for ‘Region Syddanmark’ regarding short term focus areas in order to take advantage of the opportunities:

  • Gathering agents. We recommend that the regions gather the relevant agents on a ongoing basis. This is partially to ensure a more coordinated approach to dialogue with the datacentres and partially to ensure ongoing knowledge- and experience-sharing. A forum for experience- and knowledge-sharing may be placed with existing agents such as ‘Datacenter Industrien’. The forum should, as a minimum, ensure that relevant municipalities participate, as they, as of this moment, are closest to the datacentres. Other organisations can be added to the forum on an ongoing basis, fx regional and local educational- and knowledge-institutions, utility companies, clusters, businesses and others, depending on the themes and interests discussed in the forum. A first common focus could for example be the reuse of surplus heat, with is being looked at by both Facebook in Odense and Apple in Viborg.
  • Ensure ongoing monitoring of the need of labor and business competencies in relation to the datacentres i collaboration with region, municipalities, regional labor-councils and represents of relevant educational-institutions. Monitoring the need for labor and competencies may also be a task of a broader forum as mentioned in the recommendation above.
  • Investigate and possibly enforce the possibilities for more projects on reuse of surplus heat and further resources for developing-, testing- and demonstration-projects, as well as experience- and knowledge-sharing among the agents involved. It seems that some of the largest possibilities within innovation and synergy are within the field of surplus heat.
  • Launch a feasibility-study of opportunitets and options for establishing a testcentre in Denmark. The study should uncover real and more precise needs when establishing a test- and demonstration-centre and it should also look further into the financial needs, financing- and business- models, as well as support, interest and willingness to pay among relevant business companies and knowledge institutions.
    Initiate dialogue with regional educational institutions on how to increase the interest of STEM-education, and in particular how to draw on the opportunity of having large datacentres around – for example by initiating collaboration with datacentres on educational visits, cases, guest lectures and more.
  • Investigate the possibility of reaching out to German agents within regional and business development. This rekommandation is partially based on a general German interest in learning more about the development and opportunities in Denmark in relation to the large datacentres, partially because previous analysis has shown that there in Northern Germany also are strong competencies within industrial electronics and energy efficient technologies. Regions can therefore benefit from reaching out to German agens of regional- and business development. To start of, they will need more knowledge on what is happening in the Danish field of datacentres and which opportunities there are as well as which agents that work within the field.

Find the full report (in Danish) here: Afdækning af de erhvervs- og innovationsmæssige potentialer forbundet med etableringen af hyperscale datacenter i Vestdanmark