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Information & Communication Technologies

Information and Communication Technologies

ICT - Future and Emerging Technologies (FET)

Future and emerging technologies (FET)


Note: This is a short overview of targeted activities and is not legally binding. Fuller details on targeted activities are provided in multi-annual ICT work programmes which can be downloaded from this site's Library section

Why is it important?

The challenge for research into Future and Emerging Technologies (FET) is the timely identification and substantiation of new directions that have a high potential for significant breakthrough. These may then become the foundations of the information and communication technologies and innovations of tomorrow.

Where we stand?

Industry roadmaps in several ICT areas still contain major roadblocks that cannot be addressed by incremental approaches. This is where FET research is especially important. Unconventional ideas, often at the fringe of the discipline, in a world where there is pressure to deliver may not get a chance in spite of their high potential for breakthrough and innovation.

Where we want to go?

FET research is long-term and high-risk but ' purpose driven '. It derives its raison d'ĂȘtre from the broader context of the ICT programme. It will establish the scientific and technological foundations of the technologies and innovations of tomorrow, and the readiness of a vibrant research community.

What impact we want to have?

Research under FET is motivated by fundamental long-term challenges in ICT that are key to long-term sustainability, such as:

  • Rethinking the nature of computing, where basic notions of information, computation and communication are revisited, and fundamental characteristics of matter (quantum behaviour, dynamics of atoms, molecules, cells, neurons, photons) are exploited to develop radically new types of logic and components (' QIPC and other quantum technologies ' and ' Bio-ICT convergence ').
  • Opening new directions for the physical realisation of ICT beyond CMOS that can achieve greater miniaturization, efficiency and integration; and to learn to design and manage massive numbers of such devices integrated in a single chip (' Nano-scale ICT devices and systems ' and ' Massive ICT systems ').
  • To embrace change within massively networked ICT systems so that they can develop, grow, self-assemble, replicate, evolve, adapt, repair themselves and self-organise over long periods of time, while maintaining security and dependability (' Pervasive adaptation ').
  • To understand and harness the transformational forces of new ICTs on society, especially when large-scale deployment (eg. high bandwidth mobile communication, immersive collaborative environments, ubiquitous robotics or sensor networks) leads to emergent, unanticipated effects (' Science of Complex Systems for socially intelligent ICT ').
  • To respond to increasing expectations of trustworthy, dependable and long-lasting systems and information that current technologies can not meet (' ICT forever yours ').
  • To exploit the understanding of information processing in biological systems in order to develop new perspectives in ICT with clear advantages (e.g., power needs, packaging requirements, resilience and adaptability), or to achieve technologies that can be naturally combined with biological systems (' Bio-ICT convergence ').
  • To master fundamental, physical aspects of smart devices in order to pave the way for a whole new range of smart artefacts, such as robots, that can safely operate alongside, and co-operate with humans (' Embodied Intelligence ').
  • To address the physical-virtual confluence that is enabled by advanced media and interface technologies but that needs a solid basis in research on human perception and action, the study of experiences, awareness, and the development of tighter couplings between the human and technological realms (' Human-Computer Confluence ').


Research in FET will consist of radical interdisciplinary explorations of new and alternative approaches towards future and emerging ICT-related technologies, aimed at:

  • fundamental reconsideration of theoretical, methodological, technological and/or applicative paradigms in ICT;
  • delivering proofs-of-concept for radically new options where none existed before, or demonstrating new possibilities where none were suspected.

It will also aim to establish a credible and strong science and technology basis in such new and emerging areas, by:

  • supporting research for refining visionary concepts;
  • bringing them to the maturity level to attract investment from industry;
  • helping new interdisciplinary research communities to establish themselves.

FET combines bottom-up and top-down approaches. FET-Open is open to a broad spectrum of needs, opportunities and solutions, and thus avoids the risk of 'tunnel vision' and acts as an early indicator of new directions for research. FET proactive serves as a pathfinder for specific themes and prepares for future directions in which, later on, the ICT programme together with industry, may create the critical mass that can really make a difference for Europe in the long run.

The 2007-2008 funding will be used for FET Open (65 MEuro) as well as to address the following themes in FET pro-active initiatives (120 MEuro):

  • Nano-scale ICT devices and systems;
  • Pervasive adaptation;
  • Bio-ICT convergence;
  • Science of Complex Systems for socially intelligent ICT;
  • Embodied Intelligence;
  • ICT forever yours.

FET also encourages international cooperation in foundational research on these topics.

The following themes are likely to be among pro-active initiatives for funding in 2009-2010:

  • Massive ICT systems;
  • Human-computer confluence;
  • QIPC and other quantum technologies.