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Call: Create a European Industrial Ecosystem for Secure QCI technologies and systems

Programme
Acronym DIGITAL
Type of Fund Direct Management
Description of programme
"Digital Europe"

The general objectives of the Digital Europe Programme shall be to support and accelerate the digital transformation of the European economy, industry and society, to bring its benefits to citizens, public administrations and businesses across the Union, and to improve the competitiveness of Europe in the global digital economy while contributing to bridging the digital divide across the Union and reinforcing the Union’s strategic autonomy, through holistic, cross-sectoral and cross-border support and a stronger Union contribution.

The Programme shall be implemented in close coordination with other Union programmes as applicable, and shall aim:

  1. to strengthen and promote Europe’s capacities in key digital technology areas through large-scale deployment;
  2. in the private sector and in areas of public interest, to widen the diffusion and uptake of Europe’s key digital technologies, promoting the digital transformation and access to digital technologies.

It will reinforce EU critical digital capacities by focusing on the key areas of artificial intelligence (AI), cybersecurity, advanced computing, data infrastructure, governance and processing, the deployment of these technologies and their best use for critical sectors like energy, climate change and environment, manufacturing, agriculture and health. Thus, the Programme shall have five interrelated specific objectives:

  1. Specific Objective 1 – High Performance Computing
  2. Specific Objective 2 – Artificial Intelligence
  3. Specific Objective 3 – Cybersecurity and Trust
  4. Specific Objective 4 – Advanced Digital Skills
  5. Specific Objective 5 Deployment and Best Use of Digital Capacity and Interoperability.

The Digital Europe Programme is strategic in supporting the digital transformation of the EU industrial ecosystems targeting upskilling to provide a workforce for these advanced digital technologies. It supports industry, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and public administration in their digital transformation with a reinforced network of European Digital Innovation Hubs (EDIH). The Programme will accelerate the economic recovery and drive the digital transformation of Europe.

Specific Objective 1- High Performance Computing

The financial contribution from the Union under Specific Objective 1 – High Performance Computing shall pursue the following operational objectives:

  1. deploy, coordinate at Union level and operate an integrated demand-oriented and application-driven world-class exascale supercomputing and data infrastructure that shall be easily accessible to public and private users, in particular SMEs, irrespective of the Member State in which they are located, and easily accessible for research purposes, in accordance with Regulation (EU) 2018/1488;
  2. deploy ready to use operational technology resulting from research and innovation in order to build an integrated Union HPC ecosystem, covering various aspects in the scientific and industrial value chain segments, including hardware, software, applications, services, interconnections and digital skills, with a high level of security and data protection;
  3. deploy and operate post-exascale infrastructure, including integration with quantum computing technologies and research infrastructures for computing science and encourage the development within the Union of the hardware and software necessary for such deployment.

Specific Objective 2 – Artificial Intelligence

The financial contribution from the Union under Specific Objective 2 – Artificial Intelligence shall pursue the following operational objectives:

  1. build up and strengthen core AI capacities and knowledge in the Union, including building up and strengthening quality data resources and corresponding exchange mechanisms, and libraries of algorithms, while guaranteeing a human-centric and inclusive approach that respects Union values;
  2. make the capacities referred to in point (a) accessible to businesses, especially SMEs and start-ups, as well as civil society, not-for-profit organisations, research institutions, universities and public administrations, in order to maximise their benefit to the European society and economy;
  3. reinforce and network AI testing and experimentation facilities in Member States;
  4. develop and reinforce commercial application and production systems in order to facilitate the integration of technologies in value chains and the development of innovative business models and to shorten the time required to pass from innovation to commercial exploitation and foster the uptake of AI-based solutions in areas of public interest and in society.

Specific Objective 3 – Cybersecurity and Trust

The financial contribution from the Union under Specific Objective 3 – Cybersecurity and Trust shall pursue the following operational objectives:

  1. support the building-up and procurement of advanced cybersecurity equipment, tools and data infrastructures, together with Member States, in order to achieve a high common level of cybersecurity at European level, in full compliance with data protection legislation and fundamental rights, while ensuring the strategic autonomy of the Union;
  2. support the building-up and best use of European knowledge, capacity and skills related to cybersecurity and the sharing and mainstreaming of best practices;
  3. ensure a wide deployment of effective state-of-the-art cybersecurity solutions across the European economy, paying special attention to public authorities and SMEs;
  4. reinforce capabilities within Member States and private sector to help them comply with Directive (EU) 2016/1148 of the European Parliament and of the Council including through measures supporting the uptake of cybersecurity best practices;
  5. improve resilience against cyberattacks, contribute towards increasing risk-awareness and knowledge of cybersecurity processes, support public and private organisations in achieving basics levels of cybersecurity, for example by deploying end-to-end encryption of data and software updates;
  6. enhance cooperation between the civil and defence spheres with regard to dual-use projects, services, competences and applications in cybersecurity, in accordance with a Regulation establishing the European Cybersecurity Industrial, Technology and Research Competence Centre and the Network of National Coordination Centres (the ‘Cybersecurity Competence Centre Regulation’).

Specific Objective 4 – Advanced Digital Skills

The financial contribution from the Union under Specific Objective 4 – Advanced Digital Skills shall support the development of advanced digital skills in areas covered by the Programme in order to contribute to increasing Europe’s talent pool, bridge the digital divide and foster greater professionalism, especially with regard to high performance and cloud computing, big data analytics, cybersecurity, distributed ledger technologies (e.g. blockchain), quantum technologies, robotics, AI, while taking gender balance into account. In order to tackle skills mismatches and to encourage specialisation in digital technologies and applications, the financial contribution shall pursue the following operational objectives:

  1. support the design and delivery of high-quality, long-term training and courses, including blended learning, for students and for the workforce;
  2. support the design and delivery of high-quality, short-term training and courses for the workforce, in particular in SMEs and in the public sector;
  3. support high-quality on-the-job training and work placements for students, including traineeships, and the workforce, in particular in SMEs and in the public sector.

Specific Objective 5 – Deployment and Best Use of Digital Capacities and Interoperability

The financial contribution from the Union under Specific Objective 5 – Deployment and Best Use of Digital Capacities and Interoperability shall pursue the following operational objectives while bridging the digital divide:

  1. support the public sector and areas of public interest, such as health and care, education, judiciary, customs, transport, mobility, energy, environment, cultural and creative sectors, including relevant businesses established within the Union, to effectively deploy and access state-of-the-art digital technologies, such as HPC, AI and cybersecurity;
  2. deploy, operate and maintain trans-European interoperable state-of-the-art digital service infrastructures across the Union, including related services, in complementarity with national and regional actions;
  3. support the integration and use of trans-European digital service infrastructures and of agreed European digital standards in the public sector and in areas of public interest to facilitate cost-efficient implementation and interoperability;
  4. facilitate the development, update and use of solutions and frameworks by public administrations, businesses and citizens, including of open-source solutions and the re-use of interoperability solutions and frameworks;
  5. offer the public sector and the Union industry, in particular SMEs, easy access to testing and piloting of digital technologies and increase the use thereof, including their cross-border use;
  6. support the uptake by the public sector and the Union industry, in particular SMEs and start-ups, of advanced digital and related technologies, including in particular HPC, AI, cybersecurity, other leading edge and future technologies, such as distributed ledger technologies (e.g. blockchain);
  7. support the design, testing, implementation, and deployment and maintenance of interoperable digital solutions, including digital government solutions, for public services at Union level which are delivered through a data-driven reusable solutions platform aiming to foster innovation and establish common frameworks in order to unleash the full potential of the public administrations’ services for citizens and businesses;
  8. ensure the continuous capacity at Union level to lead digital development, in addition to observing, analysing and adapting to fast-evolving digital trends, and share and mainstream best practices;
  9. support cooperation towards achieving a European ecosystem for trusted data sharing and digital infrastructures using, inter alia, services and applications based on distributed ledger technologies (e.g. blockchain), including support for interoperability and standardisation and by fostering the deployment of Union cross-border applications based on security and privacy by design, while complying with consumer and data protection legislation;
  10. build up and strengthen the European Digital Innovation Hubs and their network.
Link Link to Programme
Call
Create a European Industrial Ecosystem for Secure QCI technologies and systems
Description of call
"Create a European Industrial Ecosystem for Secure QCI technologies and systems"

Objective:

To prepare for the industrialisation and deployment of quantum communications infrastructure (QCI) technological and operational capabilities and advanced QCI networks essential for European cybersecurity, and contribute to the development of a European industrial QCI ecosystem, including a thriving SME sector. This support is needed to contribute to European technological autonomy in the highly strategic field of quantum communication technologies.

Scope:

The action will focus on the following two priorities:

  • Industrialisation of EU QKD devices, technologies and systems: prepare for industrialisation and for deployment (i.e. reaching TRL 8-9) quantum technology components for quantum key distribution that are stable, miniaturised and have competitive performance (e.g. cost-effective, exhibiting higher key exchange rates, link distances). QKD systems should enable scalability to multi-user network architectures and upgradability to future quantum information networks. Examples of such core technology components include quantum random number generators, photon sources, application and control software, etc. Work should also cover the integration of individual components and devices to larger, standalone QKD systems and their full testing and thus compliance to EU (ETSI/CENELEC) standards (including independent device protocols) and to EAL level 4 or above, in view of their potential deployment in the EuroQCI initiative. Work should also include an exploitation plan covering all the industrialisation and fabrication aspects of such devices, technologies, systems and processes underpinning the creation of an EU QKD supply chain.
  • QKD-based Telecom Network System production: Develop the full run system integration from EU QKD system (level 1) to Telecom network systems (level 2), key management (level 3) until cyber security system level (level 4). The level 4 quantum cybersecurity systems will then be integrated in traditional communication networks, assuring interoperability in a full multi-user end-to-end architecture. Upgradability to quantum information networks should be considered. Work should also cover the testing and certification/standards compliance of the complete QKD-based Telecom System in view of its deployment in the EuroQCI initiative.

Individual proposals should cover at least one of the above priorities. The final proposals selection for EU funding will ensure appropriate coverage of both priorities. At least 60% of the budget will be allocated to proposals addressing the first priority.

Expected Outcome:

  • Mature QKD-based systems ready for integration and deployment in an operational telecom infrastructure;
  • First fully functional telecom network systems managing quantum keys and assuring the interoperability between quantum and traditional cybersecurity systems, that ensure the secrecy and integrity of sensitive digital data in Europe
Link Link to Call
Thematic Focus Digitisation, ICT, Telecommunication, Research & Innovation, Technology Transfer & Exchange, Capacity Building, Cooperation Networks, Institutional Cooperation, Justice, Safety & Security
Funding area EU Member States
Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs)
Origin of Applicant EU Member States
Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs)
Eligible applicants Small and Medium Sized Enterprises, SMEs (between 10 and 249 employees), Microenterprises (fewer than 10 employees), Other, Enterprise (more than 250 employees or not defined), Public Services, University, Research Institution
Applicant details In order to be eligible, the applicants (beneficiaries and affiliated entities) must:
  • be legal entities (public or private bodies)
  • be established in one of the eligible countries, i.e.:
    • EU Member States (including overseas countries and territories (OCTs))

  • Natural persons are NOT eligible (with the exception of self-employed persons, i.e. sole traders, where the company does not have legal personality separate from that of the natural person).
  • International organisations are NOT eligible, unless they are International organisations of European Interest within the meaning of Article 2 of the Digital Europe Regulation (i.e. international organisations the majority of whose members are Member States or whose headquarters are in a Member State).
  • EU bodies (with the exception of the European Commission Joint Research Centre) can NOT be part of the consortium.
Project Partner Yes
Project duration min 24 months
Project duration max 30 months
Further info Proposals must be complete and contain all the requested information and all required annexes and supporting documents:
  • Application Form Part A — contains administrative information about the participants  and the summarised budget for the project (to be filled in directly online)
  • Application Form Part B — contains the technical description of the project (to be downloaded from the Portal Submission System, completed and then assembled and re-uploaded)
  • mandatory annexes and supporting documents (to be uploaded):
    • list of previous projects (key projects for the last 4 years)
    • ethics issues table
    • security issues table
    • ownership control declaration
    • a letter of authorisation from the authority in the relevant member state(s) stating that the consortium (or beneficiary in a mono-beneficiary grant) is responsible for developing the concerned national QCI network. If the authority itself participates in the consortium this letter is not needed.
Proposals are limited to maximum 70 pages (Part B).
Type of Funding Grants
Financial details The available call budget is EUR 44,000,000. This budget might be increased by maximum 20%.

Funding rate: 50% and 75% (for SMEs) - SME Suppot Actions

Project budget (maximum grant amount): between EUR 5,000,000 and EUR 15,000,000 per project
Submission Proposals must be submitted electronically via the Funding & Tenders Portal. Paper submissions are NOT possible.

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