Data Center Non-Profit Director Talks Trends And Industry Clustering

Stijn Grove is a well-known figure in the European data center space – or digital infrastructure, as he prefers. Grove is the Managing Director Dutch Data Center Association and of Digital Gateway to Europe, as well as the Chairman of the KickStart Europe conference.

We sat down with Grove for a bite-sized episode of The PathCast, our interview podcast series with business leaders across tech and telecoms. You can listen to Grove’s episode below, or keep scrolling for the write-up.

Listen to this bonus episode if the PathCast.

KickStart Europe, which takes place on January 28, is a strategy and networking conference that focuses on bringing together investors, operators, and c-levels from across the sector – “it’s for the industry, by the industry,” Grove explains.

Digital Gateway to Europe, which organizes KickStart, is a government and industry-backed initiative to promote collective efforts of telecoms companies across Europe, positioning the Netherlands as a launchpad for trade missions and other meetups.

Into its third year, one of KickStart’s biggest challenges last year was the last-minute change of the venue due to filling capacity. This year will be bigger, and better.

The conference is designed to bring together C-levels from across the industry, who can meet, network and establish a collaborative strategy to navigate challenges and move the digital economy forward.

Grove said: “The industry is very organized in Northern Europe but in Southern Europe, you don’t see many associations. Digital Gateway to Europe is happy to share information on how to set up an association so that elsewhere can get organized. The more we do together and get up to speed, the better it is for Europe.”

data center
Photographer: Taylor Vick | Source: Unsplash

Key data center trends to look out for in 2020

Some key problems currently facing the industry, which attendees can expect to discuss at KickStart, are:

The EU sustainability agenda

The European Commission set the goal to become the first climate-neutral continent by 2050. As a result, 2020 is the year of sustainability in Europe, and data centers have long been a hot topic due to the power needed to keep servers running. So expect plenty of green policies.

The need for more skilled staff

The industry’s shortage of staff reaches a high point in 2020, as the current workforce retires. Uptime Institute’s survey indicates that 61% have significant difficulty recruiting or retaining staff. Finding the right staff remains vital for success, despite the rise of AI and automation. A skills gap means that the data center industry will be competing for the same talent.

Digital Gateway to Europe is also working to introduce data center-specific training schemes to help close those skills gap.

Increased scrutiny from governments

Governments are becoming more concerned with the use of power, water and space by data centers. Looking at societies’ dependency on digital infrastructure and data regulations, governments will step up oversight and put data centers under closer scrutiny.

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Dubbed “the year of truth and sustainability” for data centers, increased oversight and changing business models, paired with legislative challenges, will cause a lot of disruption for organizations not willing to embrace new technology.

“We need new laws about privacy, we need new laws about data, we need new laws about sustainability,” explained Grove.

But the only way to do this is collective. The demand for data, cloud and edge solutions will not slow down, and the European digital infrastructure industry is expected to double in five years’ time. How do leaders meet the demands of modern industry, while also scaling?

Explore answers to this question, and many more, at the KickStart Europe 2019 conference.

KickStart takes place on January 28th at RAI Amsterdam. On the evening of January 27th, there's also a pre-conference welcome reception.

Register to attend KickStart Europe at, and use the discount code KSE20_ENA90ZS for 15% off.

Keep up on Twitter @KickStartEur and listen to Grove’s interview on The PathCast.

*All trends in this blog were courtesy of KickStart Europe.

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