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Call: Future European platforms for the Edge: Meta Operating Systems

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Programme
Acronym HE-CL4-DATA
Type of Fund Direct Management
Description of programme
"Horizon Europe - Cluster 4 - Destination 3: World Leading Data and Computing Technologies and Data Computing Technologies"

This destination will directly support the following Key Strategic Orientations, as outlined in the Strategic Plan:

  • KSO A, ‘Promoting an open strategic autonomy by leading the development of key digital, enabling and emerging technologies, sectors and value chains to accelerate and steer the digital and green transitions through human-centred technologies and innovations.’
  • KSO C, ‘Making Europe the first digitally led circular, climate-neutral and sustainable economy through the transformation of its mobility, energy, construction and production systems

Proposals for topics under this Destination should set out a credible pathway to contributing to the following expected impact of Cluster 4 as set out in Horizon Europe Strategic Plan:

  • Globally attractive, secure and dynamic data-agile economy, by developing and enabling the uptake of the next-generation computing and data technologies and infrastructures (including space infrastructure and data), enabling the European single market for data with the corresponding data spaces and a trustworthy artificial intelligence ecosystem.

As data becomes the new fuel of the economy and a key asset to address our societal challenges, the EU cannot afford to have the data of its businesses, public sector and citizens stored and exploited largely outside its borders. This is affecting not only our economic performance but also our security, safety and sovereignty.

As announced in the EU data strategy (COM(2020) 66), the EU has the means to become the world’s most secure and trustful data hub. For that to happen, an important investment effort in the development of data technologies is needed to support the use, interoperability and analytical exploitation of EU-wide common data spaces targeting essential economic sectors and areas of public interest. The COVID-19 crisis showed how essential it is to master data technologies to address our societal challenges and to incentivize public and private stakeholders to trustfully share data.

The investments should cover the necessary data infrastructure and service platforms to enable virtualisation, adaptation of data and meta-data (including standards for data sharing) as well as common analytics tools. Investment in this Destination will reinforce the cloud and data infrastructure supply industry and make data accessible to research, education, businesses and governments across the EU in a way that meets European values and requirements. It will focus on energy-efficient and trustworthy data infrastructures and related services. The EU also needs to swiftly develop generic cloud to edge to IoT technologies, methods, tools and platforms for the support of future hyper-distributed applications in any business/societal sector.

Europe’s lead in the data economy also increasingly depends on its capability to autonomously develop key High Performance Computing (HPC) technologies, provide access to world-class supercomputing and data infrastructures, maintain global leadership in HPC applications, and foster the acquisition of HPC skills. This is the purpose of the activities funded by the EuroHPC Joint Undertaking.

Investments in this Destination contribute substantially to climate change objectives. Energy efficiency is a key design principle in actions, which will lead to new technologies and solutions that are cornerstones for a sustainable economy and society. These solutions range from environmentally sustainable data operations to balancing loads among centralised clouds and distributed edge computing, from decentralised energy sources to energy-harvesting sensors/devices, etc.

Finally, a robust data ecosystem rests as much on the wide, practical availability of top solutions and results, as on the transparency of the research and innovation process. To ensure trustworthiness and wide adoption by user communities for the benefit of society, actions should promote high standards of transparency and openness. Actions should ensure that the processes and outcomes of research and innovation align with the needs, values and expectations of society, in line with Responsible Research and Innovation.

This Destination is structured into the following headings, which group topics together with similar outcomes to address a common challenge:

  • Data sharing in the common European data space

Data sharing and data interoperability are still at their infancy; few data markets for sharing industrial data exist. In a recent survey[[https://ec.europa.eu/digital-single-market/en/news/sme-panel-consultation-b2b-data-sharing]], more than 40% of the SMEs interviewed claim they had problems in acquiring data from other companies. The diffusion of platforms for data sharing and the availability of interoperable datasets is one of the key success factors which may help to drive the European data economy and industrial transformation. On the other hand, Europe is developing a strong legal framework for data and is well positioned to exploit data from the public sector. The potential of European industrial data (from digitising industry) creates great synergies to feed European data ecosystems with industrial, personal, and public sector data, to be shared and exploited in full compliance with the ethical and legal framework.

In line with the FAIR principles (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable), the overall objective of the topics in this heading is to make Europe the most successful area in the world in terms of data sharing and data re-use while respecting the legal framework relating to security and privacy and fostering collaboration and building on existing initiatives.

  • Strengthening Europe’s data analytics capacity

Recent developments in sensor networks, cyber-physical systems, and the ubiquity of the Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) have increased the collection of data (including health care, social media, smart communities, industry, manufacturing, education, construction, agriculture, water management finance/insurance, tourism, education, and more) to an enormous scale (by 2025, 463 exabytes of data will be produced every day in the world). There is significant potential for advances of data analytics at the intersection of many scientific, technology and societal fields (e.g. data mining, AI, complex systems, network science, statistics, natural language understanding, mathematics, particle physics, astronomy, earth observation…), and new methods and approaches are needed along the whole data life-cycle and value chain.

The overall objective of the topics in this heading is to make the EU fully autonomous in processing, combining, modelling and analysing such large amounts of data for efficiently predicting future courses of action with high accuracy and advanced decision-making strategies. The use of natural resources is reduced and waste avoided by making it possible to replace classical experiments by data-driven digital models. The technological achievements under this heading will support the development of responsible and useful AI solutions, built on high-quality and high-value data.

  • From Cloud to Edge to IoT for European Data

Today, 80% of the processing and analysis of data takes place in data centres and centralised computing facilities, and 20% in smart connected objects; only 1 European company in 4 use cloud technologies; 75% of the European cloud market is dominated by non-EU players. Considering the pace of development in this area outside of the EU, the implementation of the activities will require R&I instruments with great flexibility, including the support of SMEs and start-ups, to nurture a European ecosystem and deliver swift results.

In line with Europe’s data, green and industrial strategies, for capitalising on the paradigm shift to the edge, Europe needs to pool major investments. Focus must be on the development and deployment of the next generation computing components, systems and platforms that enable this transition to a compute continuum with strong capacities at the edge and far edge in an energy efficient and trustworthy manner.

The overall objective of the topics in this heading is to establish the European supply and value chains in cloud to edge computing to Internet of Things (IoT) and tactile internet by integrating relevant elements of computing, connectivity, IoT, AI cybersecurity. New cloud/edge technologies with enhanced performance enabled by AI will increase European autonomy in the data economy required to support future hyper-distributed applications.

Finally, actions on high-end computing for exascale performance and beyond will be entirely implemented in the Joint Undertaking EuroHPC.

Today, Europe critically depends on foreign High Performance Computing (HPC) technologies that are essential for scientific and industrial innovation and competitiveness. By 2022 the next generation supercomputers will reach exascale performance, none of them with European technology components.

The overall objective such actions is to ensure digital autonomy for Europe in key high-end supercomputing technology (hardware and software) and applications, and developing the first exascale supercomputer based predominantly on European technology by 2026.

Activities beyond R&I investments will be needed to realise the expected impacts: testing, experimentation, demonstration, and support for take-up using the capacities, infrastructures, and European Digital Innovation Hubs made available under the Digital Europe Programme; large-scale roll-out of innovative new technologies and solutions (e.g. interconnections between High-Performance Computing centres) via the Connecting Europe Facility; further development of skills and competencies via the European Institute of Innovation and Technology, in particular EIT Digital; upscaling of trainings via the European Social Fund +; and use of financial instruments under the InvestEU Fund for further commercialisation of R&I outcomes.

Expected impact

Proposals for topics under this Destination should set out a credible pathway to contributing to world-leading data and computing technologies, and more specifically to one or several of the following impacts:

  • Improved European leadership in the global data economy
  • Maximised social and economic benefits from the wider and more effective use of data
  • Reinforced Europe’s ability to manage urgent societal challenges (e.g. data for crisis management, digital for clean energy).

Link Link to Programme
Call
Future European platforms for the Edge: Meta Operating Systems
Description of call
"Future European platforms for the Edge: Meta Operating Systems"

Expected Outcome:

Proposal results are expected to contribute to the following expected outcomes:

  • Next generation of higher-level (meta) operating systems for the smart Internet of Things with strong computing capacity at the smart device, system and edge-level, embedded in a compute continuum from IoT-to-edge-to-cloud. Such Operating system should be device independent and implement advanced concepts such as ad-hoc clouds, time-triggered IoT, and decentralised intelligence.
  • Increasing European autonomy in data processing required to support future hyper-distributed applications by building open platforms and an open edge ecosystem including business models, driven by European actors.
  • Achieving trust in these (meta) operating systems among actors in diverse industrial ecosystems by leveraging open standards and - where applicable - open source.
  • Emergence of an open edge ecosystem including midcaps, SMEs and start-ups that foster the up-take of an edge operating system, e.g. through a modular functional spectrum of executable apps and services, for nurturing a European network of innovators and developers.
  • Demonstrators in key industrial and societal applications, which in future require more power at the edge.

Scope:

Europe needs to strengthen its supply and value chains in cloud to edge computing by integrating relevant elements of computing, connectivity, IoT, AI and cybersecurity. Exploiting network functions such as adhoc - cloud/fog communication not limited to 5G , the objective is to develop meta operating systems for the edge that enable cloud and edge computing orchestrations by bringing computation, data and intelligence closer to where the data is produced (sensors and devices) and by which volume, variety, interoperability, and velocity should be handled efficiently and securely. This will make AI training and inference at the edge viable and lead to a next generation of internet-enabled automation concepts virtualizing computing and networking functions, multi-state analytics and digital twinning of underlying objects to improve end-to-end response time, to optimise the CO2 footprint and benefit from the use of renewable energy sources. Validation should be done through proof of concept or prototype implementations for at least 3 different applications in domains such as mobility, logistics, manufacturing, energy and other utilities, buildings or farming.

Proposals are expected to use financial support to third parties (FSTP) to support industry, in particular SMEs, in take-up of emerging edge topologies, for populating and validating relevant use cases through experiments. A maximum of 20% of the budget is expected to be dedicated to FSTP and the maximum amount of FSTP is EUR 150.000 per third party for the entire duration of the action.

Link Link to Call
Thematic Focus Research & Innovation, Technology Transfer & Exchange, Capacity Building, Cooperation Networks, Institutional Cooperation, Clustering, Development Cooperation, Economic Cooperation, Digitisation, ICT, Telecommunication, Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, Green Technologies & Green Deal, Circular Economy, Sustainability, Natural Resources, Climate, Climate Change, Environment & Biodiversity
Funding area EU Member States
Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs)
Origin of Applicant EU Member States
Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs)
Eligible applicants Education and Training Centres, Federal State / Region / City / Municipality / Local Authority, Research Institution, Lobby Group / Professional Association / Trade Union, International Organization, Small and Medium Sized Enterprises, SMEs (between 10 and 249 employees), Microenterprises (fewer than 10 employees), NGO / NPO, Public Services, National Government, Other, Start Up Company, University, Enterprise (more than 250 employees or not defined), Association
Applicant details

eligible non-EU countries:

  • countries associated to Horizon Europe
At the date of the publication of the work programme, there are no countries associated to Horizon Europe. Considering the Union’s interest to retain, in principle, relations with the countries associated to Horizon 2020, most third countries associated to Horizon 2020 are expected to be associated to Horizon Europe with an intention to secure uninterrupted continuity between Horizon 2020 and Horizon Europe. In addition, other third countries can also become associated to Horizon Europe during the programme. For the purposes of the eligibility conditions, applicants established in Horizon 2020 Associated Countries or in other third countries negotiating association to Horizon Europe will be treated as entities established in an Associated Country, if the Horizon Europe association agreement with the third country concerned applies at the time of signature of the grant agreement.

  • low-and middle-income countries

Legal entities which are established in countries not listed above will be eligible for funding if provided for in the specific call conditions, or if their participation is considered essential for implementing the action by the granting authority.

Specific cases:

  • Affiliated entities - Affiliated entities are eligible for funding if they are established in one of the countries listed above.
  • EU bodies - Legal entities created under EU law may also be eligible to receive funding, unless their basic act states otherwise.
  • International organisations - International European research organisations are eligible to receive funding. Unless their participation is considered essential for implementing the action by the granting authority, other international organisations are not eligible to receive funding. International organisations with headquarters in a Member State or Associated Country are eligible to receive funding for ‘Training and mobility’actions and when provided for in the specific call conditions.
Project Partner Yes
Project Partner Details

Unless otherwise provided for in the specific call conditions , legal entities forming a consortium are eligible to participate in actions provided that the consortium includes:

  • at least one independent legal entity established in a Member State;and
  • at least two other independent legal entities, each established in different Member States or Associated Countries.
Call opens 22.06.2021
Call closes 21.10.2021
Further info

Proposal page limits and layout:

The application form will have two parts:

  • Part A to be filled in directly online  (administrative information, summarised budget, call-specific questions, etc.)
  • Part B to be downloaded from the Portal submission system, completed and re-uploaded as a PDF in the system

Page limit - Part B: 45 pages

Type of Funding Grants
Financial details
Expected EU contribution per projectThe Commission estimates that an EU contribution of between EUR 8.00 and 12.00 million would allow these outcomes to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of a proposal requesting different amounts.
Indicative budgetThe total indicative budget for the topic is EUR 54.00 million.
Typ of ActionResearch and Innovation Actions (RIA)
Funding rate100%

Beneficiaries may provide financial support to third parties. The support to third parties can only be provided in the form of grants. The maximum amount to be granted to each third party is EUR 150 000 in order to allow third parties to support industry, in particular SMEs, in take-up of emerging edge topologies, for populating and validating relevant use cases through experiments.

Activities are expected to start at TRL 4 and achieve TRL 5 by the end of the project.

Submission Proposals must be submitted electronically via the Funding & Tenders Portal Electronic Submission System. Paper submissions are NOTpossible.

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