This initiative aims at developing a more human-centric Internet supporting values of openness, cooperation across borders, decentralisation, inclusiveness and protection of privacy; giving the control back to the users in order to increase trust in the Internet. It should provide more transparent services, more intelligence, greater involvement and participation, leading towards an Internet that is more open, robust and dependable, more interoperable and more supportive of social innovation.

Scope:

Involving today’s best Internet innovators to address technological opportunities arising from cross-links and advances in various research fields ranging from network infrastructures to platforms, from application domains to social innovation. Beyond research, the scope includes validation and testing of market traction with minimum viable products and services, of new economic, mobility and social models, and involves users and market actors at an early stage. Multi-disciplinary approaches are encouraged when relevant. Eventually this initiative should influence Internet governance and related policies.

a) Research and Innovation Actions

Each Research and Innovation Action (R&I Action) will focus on a given research domain supporting the objective of a human-centric Internet. It will build a European ecosystem of researchers, innovators and technology developers by selecting and providing financial support to the best projects submitted by third parties in a competitive manner.

Through an agile and flexible process, 'R&I Actions' will focus their support on third party projects from outstanding academic research groups, hi-tech startups and SMEs, so that multiple third parties will be funded in parallel contributing to the same research area, using short research cycles targeting the most promising ideas. Each of the selected third parties projects will pursue its own objectives, while the 'R&I Action' will provide the programme logic and vision, the necessary technical support, as well as coaching and mentoring, in order that the collection of third party projects contributes towards a significant advancement and impact in the research domain. The focus will be on advanced research that is linked to relevant use cases and that can be brought quickly to the market; apps and services that innovate without a research component are not covered by this model.

Beneficiaries shall make explicit the intervention logic for their specific research domain, their capacity to attract top Internet talents, to deliver a solid value-adding services package to the third party projects, as well as their expertise and capacity in managing the full life-cycle of the open calls transparently. They should explore synergies with other research and innovation actions, supported at regional, national or European level, to increase the overall impact.

For grants awarded under this topic for Research and Innovation actions beneficiaries may provide support to third parties as described in part K of the General Annexes of the Work Programme. The support to third parties can only be provided in the form of grants. The respective options of Article 15.1 and Article 15.3 of the Model Grant Agreement will be applied.

For the call closing in 2018 'R&I Actions' in the following three sub-topics will be called for. Proposals should address only one of these sub-topics.

i) Privacy and trust enhancing technologies: as sensors, objects, devices, AI-based algorithms, etc., are incorporated in our digital environment, develop robust and easy to use technologies to help users increase trust and achieve greater control when sharing their personal data, attributes and information.

ii) Decentralized data governance: leveraging on distributed open hardware and software ecosystems based on blockchains, distributed ledger technology, open data and peer-to-peer technologies. Attention should be paid to ethical, legal and privacy issues, as well as to the concepts of autonomy, data sovereignty and ownership, values and regulations.

iii) Discovery and identification technologies: to search and access large heterogeneous data sources, services, objects and sensors, devices, multi-media content, etc. and which may include aspects of numbering; providing contextual querying, personalised information retrieval and increased quality of experience.

'R&I Actions' should encourage, when relevant, open source software and open hardware design, access to data, standardisation activities, access to testing and operational infrastructure as well as an IPR regime ensuring lasting impact and reusability of results.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of EUR 7 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts. As a reference, 80% of the EU funding should be allocated to financial support to the third parties, through projects typically in the EUR 50 000 to 200 000 range with duration of 9 to 12 months. Each 'R&I Action' is expected to run several cycles of third party projects, which requires an overall duration of 24 to 36 months.

In the call closing in 2018, at least one proposal will be selected in each of the three sub-topics. Another three sub-topics will be identified for the forthcoming call closing 2019; the new sub-topics will be published by the European Commission in the update to the work programme 2019 that will be done before the call is published.

b) Coordination and Support Actions

Coordination and Support Actions are called for in the following three sub-topics. Proposals should address only one of these sub-topics. At least one proposal will be selected in each of the three sub-topics.

iv) 'Technology Strategy & Policy': will engage leading-edge Internet stakeholders and will identify emerging research trends and policy needs, through a continuous public online consultation, open stakeholder engagement, fora and debates, and data analysis. It should also use the most innovative approaches and technologies, and unconventional ways to maximise involvement of those stakeholders who are new to community programmes and who will actually drive the evolution of the Internet. It should map and cooperate with national/regional initiatives and global activities where relevant. Driven by actors with a solid background and standing in today's NGI community, it aims at sustainability right from the beginning. It will be the intellectual spearhead of the 'Next Generation Internet – An Open Internet Initiative' and will closely engage with the other actions supported in this topic.

These activities could partially be implemented through small prizes; the maximum budget the project can devote to prizes is Euro 300.000. For grants awarded under this sub-topic beneficiaries may provide support to third parties as described in part K of the General Annexes of the Work Programme. The support to third parties can only be provided in the form of prizes. The respective options of Article 15.2 and Article 15.3 of the Model Grant Agreement will be applied.

The Commission considers that proposals with a duration of three years and requesting a contribution from the EU of EUR 3 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other durations or amounts.

v) 'Technology Harvest & Transfer': will support 'R&I Actions' and their third parties in ensuring the best use of the outcomes created by delivering specific exploitation strategies, including follow-up investment opportunities, industry relations, IPR/knowledge transfers, tech-transfer services to digital innovation hubs, mentoring / coaching services and linkage to national IPR exploitation programmes, in a most innovative and effective way. It will also support impact assessment at the level of the 'Next Generation Internet – An Open Internet Initiative' topic.

The 'Technology Harvest & Transfer' action shall start no earlier than 6 months after the start of the first 'R&I Actions' in 2018. The Commission considers that proposals with a duration of three years and requesting a contribution from the EU of EUR 2 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other durations or amounts.

vi) 'Outreach Office': will execute the programme communication strategy, branding and marketing activities, including extensive online and social media presence and events, establishing a positive brand image among young researchers, innovators, policy makers and people at large. Centralised, more efficient and professional, it will lead communications towards the outside world but also coach all actions under this topic in effective communications and marketing.

The Commission considers that proposals with a duration of three years and requesting a contribution from the EU of EUR 2 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other durations or amounts.

Expected Impact:

Proposals should provide appropriate metrics for the claimed impacts.

  • Shape a more human-centric evolution of the Internet.
  • Create a European ecosystem of top researchers, hi-tech startups and SMEs with the capacity to set the course of Internet evolution.
  • Generate new business opportunities and new Internet companies with maximum growth and impact chances.
  • For sub-topics i, ii and iii: Integrating research and innovation communities; development of common visions and enhanced science – industry collaborations in each of the technology domains.
  • For sub-topic iv: European research and innovation leaders driving the debate for a human-centric Internet research and policy strategy.
  • For sub-topic v: New Internet applications / services, business models and innovation processes strengthening the position of European ICT industry in the Internet market.
  • For sub-topic vi: global visibility in the media of the debate on a human-centric Internet; citizens' priorities influencing the evolution of the Internet.

Dateline for submission: 17 April 2018 17:00:00 (Brussels time)

Source: The European Commission

Illustration Photo: Internet user (CC0 Creative Commons from Pixabay.com)

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