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Call: Safer Internet Centres (SICs)

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
Safer Internet Centres (SICs)
Description of call
"Safer Internet Centres (SICs)"

Objective:

The objective of the topic is to support national SICs (i.e., hubs gathering NGOs, government bodies/agencies, private sector organisations) in providing online safety information, educational resources, public awareness tools and counselling and reporting services (through dedicated helplines and hotlines) for young people, teachers, and parents. The activities performed by the SICs will help minors to tackle online risks and to become media literate, resilient digital citizens, and will allow citizens to anonymously report online child sexual abuse material (CSAM).

Scope:

The funding will ensure the financial sustainability of the European network of SICs, by enabling the awarded national Safer Internet Centre to provide at least:

Activity 1

A centre for raising awareness about online opportunities and risks among children, parents, teachers and other professionals working with children (e.g. educators, child care workers, health personnel) about online opportunities and risks. The focus will be, also in the light of Covid-19 crisis experience, to identify and address emerging risks (e.g. self-generated sexualised content, live streaming of violent and age-inappropriate content, datafication of childhood) and challenges such as mental and physical health issues related to the use of technologies (self-harm, addiction, perception of self-identity and self-image) as well as to foster digital literacy, empowerment and youth participation.

More specifically the awareness centre will:

  1. Devise informative and innovative awareness campaigns and resources to give children the digital skills and tools they need to take advantage of the digital transformation. Promote awareness of parents and children on online high quality and age appropriate content and experiences and make the associated resources available through their services. The resources proposed should represent a balanced mix of different public friendly and accessible online and offline resources such as, but not limited to: teaching resources, apps, booklets and leaflets, videos, games, blogs, vlogs, posters, etc. The resources should address children’s rights, and a range of ages and topics. Moreover positive online experiences should be promoted, for example through stimulating uptake of games and other engaging media to support awareness raising, and encouraging children to define their needs for better protection and empowerment in the digital transformation..
  2. Engage directly with children from different demographic groups, including the organisation of regular youth participation activities, allowing them to express their views and pool their knowledge and experience of using online technologies. Particular attention should be paid to maximising opportunities and minimising risks for children in situations of vulnerability (e.g. children with disabilities, children with a minority racial or ethnic background, child victims).
  3. Evaluate the impact of the awareness campaigns on the target groups and provide qualitative and quantitative feedback at European level on a regular basis as defined by the EU Better Internet for Kids (BIK) platform;
  4. Establish and maintain partnerships and promote dialogue and exchange of information with key players (government agencies, private sector, user organisations and education stakeholders) at national level.

Activity 2

A helpline to give advice and support to children, parents and other adults concerned on issues related to children's use of digital technologies and services. More specifically the helpline will:

  1. Offer one-to-one conversations via telephone, email and online chat services, with trained helpers to give advice and support to children and parents on online related issues; solutions to offer a ‘24 hours a day / 7 days a week’ support should be explored, including using artificial intelligence together with human moderation when appropriate;
  2. Develop/launch an ambitious national communication strategy including key performance indicators, both in terms of reach and impact to raise the visibility of the helpline services;
  3. Draw up or update the operating guidelines in compliance with national law, including data protection rules;
  4. Provide qualitative and quantitative feedback at European level on a regular basis on the main online risks and new trends as defined by the EU Better Internet for Kids (BIK) platform.

Activity 3

A hotline for tackling CSAM (i.e. receiving, analysing, and processing reports of such material). Closer cooperation with law enforcement and the private sector should be further explored. The specific tasks include the following:

  1. Establish or continue to operate a hotline to receive information from the public relating to potential CSAM (reports), and if deemed appropriate racism and xenophobia;
  2. Draw up or update the hotline manual of procedures in cooperation with law enforcement authorities and in accordance with best practice guidelines;
  3. Cooperate with the INHOPE network of hotlines and make full use of and connect to the technical infrastructure ICCAM;
  4. Undertake a preliminary assessment of the legality of the content reported and trace its origin, and forward the report to the body for action (Internet Service Provider, law enforcement agency or corresponding hotline) including systematic notice to the host provider of content assessed as CSAM and monitoring of the take-down; forward suspicions of illegal content to certain stakeholders (Internet Service Provider, law enforcement agency or corresponding hotline) for further assessment;
  5. Ensure compatibility with data formats of the technical infrastructure ICCAM and provide statistics required for measuring the impact and effectiveness of the network of hotlines (e.g. time to removal of the illegal content);
  6. Develop/update and launch an ambitious national communication strategy including key performance indicators, both in terms of reach and impact to raise the visibility of the hotline services;
  7. Develop/update and implement a proactive monitoring and follow-up procedure for the takedown of CSAM where legally possible, including the collection of statistical data (e.g. time of receipt of report, notice, takedown; number of reports transmitted to law enforcement, requests for takedown to hosting services, feedback to users);
  8. Extend the notice and takedown procedure to child sexual exploitation material (CSEM) not qualified as illegal at national level (e.g. posing, nudity) where legally possible, in order to protect personal data of children;
  9. Extend the notice and takedown procedure of CSAM to countries without a national hotline, where legally possible;
  10. Propose a design enabling a high level of automation in the report handling process, so reducing manual tasks. The automation strategy shall take into account the national legal environment, which sets the limits for the hotline’s operations.

SICs must be composed of an awareness centre and a helpline, and preferably a hotline. If a hotline is not part of the proposal, this absence has to be justified. SICs that have been awarded a grant under this call are expected to join the Insafe network of awareness centres and helplines, and the INHOPE network of hotlines.

The three strands of the SIC will be expected to cooperate by setting up or to continue to run a single Advisory Board with relevant national stakeholders (e.g. from public authorities; academia; private sector; civil society; representatives of parents, teachers, and children), and to actively contribute to the implementation of a European approach by sharing information, good practices, and resources with the EU Better Internet for Kids (BIK) platform, and by taking part in EU-level events.

Funding will be limited to one Safer Internet Centre per eligible country.

Expected Outcome:

The investment will deliver a pan-European network of SICs that will allow children to become more resilient digital users through awareness-raising activities in informal and formal education (e.g. youth participation activities, workshops, classroom visits, competitions). Parents, teachers and other professionals working with children will gain a better understanding of the risks and opportunities of children accessing digital content and services, through information sessions, train the trainers programmes, and online and offline material. Local, national, and European actors will gain timely information on emerging risks through the helpline service. Public authorities including law enforcement agencies will have access to resources and services, and exchanges with hotline analysts to develop better preventive measures and to remove CSAM in an effective manner. The private sector will benefit from increased market opportunities for high quality online content and will cooperate with the SICs through joint initiatives and awareness campaigns such as the Safer Internet Day.

For each of the three strands of activities the proposals selected for funding will be required to demonstrate that they have achieved the following results by the end of the Action:

Activity 1: An awareness centre

  1. A dissemination and communication plan for the awareness activities including key performance indicators, both in terms of reach and impact for each of the proposed activities and resources targeting children, parents and teachers and other professionals working with children.
  2. On a regular basis, provide qualitative and quantitative feedback at European level as defined by the EU Better Internet for Kids platform.
  3. An evaluation of the impact of the awareness campaigns on the target groups and report on the key performance indicators.
  4. A report on the partnerships established/maintained and on the exchange of information with key players (e.g. government agencies, private sector, user organisations, education stakeholders) at national level.

Activity 2: Helpline

  1. A national communication and dissemination strategy including key performance indicators, both in terms of reach and impact to raise the visibility of the helpline services.
  2. A helpline operating guidelines in compliance with national law, including data protection rules.
  3. On a regular basis provide qualitative and quantitative feedback at European level as defined by the EU Better Internet for Kids (BIK) platform.
  4. An evaluation of the impact of the national communication and dissemination strategy and report on the key performance indicators of the helpline.

Activity 3: Hotline

  1. A national communication and dissemination strategy including key performance indicators, both in terms of reach and impact to raise the visibility of the hotline services.
  2. An evaluation of the impact of the national communication and dissemination strategy and report on the key performance indicators of the hotline.
  3. A hotline manual of procedures in cooperation with law enforcement authorities and in accordance with best practice guidelines.
  4. Regular and timely processing of reports received. Where legally possible, the hotline must make a preliminary assessment of the legality of the content reported, trace its origin, and forward the report to the appropriate body for action (Internet Service Provider, the law enforcement agency or corresponding hotline). This should include, where legally possible, systematic notice to the host provider of content assessed as CSAM, monitoring of the take-down, and/or forwarding suspected illegal content to certain stakeholders (Internet Service Provider, the law enforcement agency or corresponding hotline) for further assessment.
  5. Compatibility with data formats of the technical infrastructure ICCAM and the production of statistics required for measuring the impact and effectiveness of the network of hotlines (e.g. time to removal of the illegal content).
  6. A proactive monitoring and follow-up procedure for the takedown of CSAM, where legally possible, including the collection of statistical data (e.g. time of receipt of report, notice and takedown).
  7. An extension of the notice and takedown procedure of CSAM to countries without a national hotline, where legally possible.
  8. An extension of the notice and takedown procedure to CSEM, where legally possible, including the collection of statistical data (e.g. time of receipt of report, notice, takedown).
  9. A report on the design and implementation of automated report handling.
Link Link to Call
Thematic Focus Digitisation, ICT, Telecommunication, Research & Innovation, Technology Transfer & Exchange, Community Integration, European Citizenship, Shared Services, Administration & Governance, Capacity Building, Cooperation Networks, Institutional Cooperation, Justice, Safety & Security, Art & Culture, Cultural Heritage, History, Media, Children & Youth, Education & Training
Funding area EU Member States
Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs)
Iceland / Ísland
Israel / ישראל / إسرائيل
Liechtenstein
Moldova
Norway / Norge
Serbia / Сpбија
Turkey / Türkiye
Ukraine / Україна Oukraïna
Origin of Applicant EU Member States
Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs)
Iceland / Ísland
Israel / ישראל / إسرائيل
Liechtenstein
Moldova
Norway / Norge
Serbia / Сpбија
Turkey / Türkiye
Ukraine / Україна Oukraïna
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, NGO / NPO, Association, Start Up Company
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))
    • listed EEA countries and countries associated to the Digital Europe Programme or countries which are in ongoing negotiations for an association agreement and where the agreement enters into force before grant signature
  • 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 Details Targeted stakeholders are existing or new Safer Internet Centres in the eligible countries.
Project duration max 24 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):
    • ethics issues table
    • ecurity issues table
Proposals are limited to maximum 70 pages (Part B).
Type of Funding Grants
Financial details The available call budget is EUR 21,000,000. This budget might be increased by maximum 20%.

Funding rate: 50%

Project budget (maximum grant amount): EUR 1,500,000 per project
Submission Proposals must be submitted electronically via the Funding & Tenders Portal. Paper submissions are NOT possible.

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