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FET Proactive: emerging paradigms and communities

proposals are sought for cutting-edge high-risk / high-reward research and innovation projects that aim to demonstrate a new technological paradigm within the scope of one of the following sub-topics:

a. Future technologies for social experience. This sub-topic explores new technologies for interaction that are based on new kinds of immersion for virtualised or augmented social interaction and that will lay the basis for the social media in 10-20 years from now. Virtual, Augmented and Mixed Reality (XR) will be as ubiquitous as Smart Phones are today. XR will serve as a starting point for new kinds of social media in which some of the participants may not be real people, where time differences are abolished, and where information and experiences will be shared in radically new ways. It is currently not known whether the sociocultural parameters implicit in natural social interaction carry over to virtual or hybrid settings or whether this leads to adaptations, new potential conflicts requiring recalibration of affective signals, cues carrying trust, empathy, conflict resolution. The sub-topic thus addresses the redefinition of the personal and social interaction space in light of increasing virtualisation, space-time displacement, information pressure, ubiquitous intelligence, uncertainty and trust issues (dis- and mis-information, anomaly detection in information sources and content, unwanted information, and similar concepts in the social realm, like opinion dynamics and social believe formation). Technologically this will be driven by a more active role of the interaction environment and an ever tighter coupling of the technologies with sensori/motor- and cognitive processes through advanced and multimodal XR setups, including for instance spatial audio, smart skins, haptics, wearable or other minimally invasive interfaces. Impacts on a ’person’s self-perception and behaviour, gender differences, the formation of knowledge and believes, the theory of mind and brain and the ability to act and interact should also be studied, especially in scenarios of extensive and always-on use.

b. Measuring the unmeasurable –– Sub-nanoscale science for Nanometrology. This sub-topic seeks to find and test new approaches for nano- and sub-nano metrology. Proposals should target new techniques, for example, physics-, biochemistry- and chemistry-based methods incorporating nano- and picometre-length scales in the spatial domain with femto- and atto-seconds in the temporal domain. The proposal must address research from a novel measurement concept up to a technique and/or method including prototype measuring devices/setups and procedures, and sound metrological aspects like quantification of uncertainty or traceability. Proposals should seek to approach theoretical limits in challenging domains (physical, chemical, biological) while minimising any potential damage or change to the object being measured. Full three-dimensional characterisation (tomography) or the application of metrological procedures to transient phenomena on a sub-nanosecond time-scale could push the limits in metrology. Research on refining existing techniques is excluded. Proposals will address emerging issues of nano-metrology in spatial and temporal dimensions, including for example morphology, composition, reactivity, energy, dynamics or relevant optical, electronic, chemical and biochemical properties. Challenges in measurement that could be used as test cases are, e.g. understanding and controlling changing morphology impacting chemical properties in nano-photonic devices or battery electrodes; integrating metrology with sub-nanoprinting, nano-engineering or self-characterisation techniques; the measurements of heat transfer across interfaces down to the atomic size level; or the characterisation of the dynamics of molecular interactions in or with biological systems for health or smart materials. The use of advanced modelling, statistical methods, big data and machine learning methods is welcome where appropriate.

c. Digital twins for the life-sciences. The sub-topic aims at the close integration and real-time interaction of dynamical models of biological structures (from biochemical pathways to cells, tissues, organs and individuals), with imaging and sensing technologies for biological mechanisms and processes. It extends concepts and technologies of digital twins beyond their industrial versions, which are typically supporting the life-cycle of engineered products, into the domain of the life sciences. The core challenge is to derive and update the digital twin using information from the imaging, sensing and monitoring of its biological counterpart, taking the achievements of systems biology, metabolomics and systems medicine into account. This can be done in vivo at whole-body (e.g. using wearable and implantable sensors) or organ level or in vitro – e.g. for interacting cells and organoids, 3D cell co-cultures, organ/body-on-chip). Beyond the development of static and structural models, a further challenge is to include dynamics at multiple temporal scales (e.g. for deriving adaptive, predictive values), through new principles of imaging and sensing that take the time-dimension into account. Biological dynamics can be observed in the unmanipulated state or under manipulation by chemical, biological, physical agents such as pharmaceuticals, viruses, acoustic waves, electromagnetic fields, light, forces, or altered temperature. This will offer unprecedented insights into the molecular and cellular dynamics underlying human disorders such as metabolic, cardiovascular, neurological, oncological or rare pathologies, where personalised precision medicines and advanced diagnostic and therapeutic approaches but also prevention measures (lifestyle, nutrition, environmental factors) are needed to make healthcare more effective, more convenient, cheaper and uniquely tailored to each patient. Work on ethical implications should be included.

FET Proactive projects should establish a solid baseline of knowledge and skills and assemble the interdisciplinary communities around them, including from the social sciences and humanities. They should further foster the emergence of a broader innovation ecosystem and create a fertile ground for co-design of the new technological paradigm and its future take-up (e.g. wider stakeholder/public engagement, informal education, policy debate), in line with the discussion on Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) in the introduction to this FET work programme.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of EUR 4 to 5 million and with a duration of up to 4 years would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts or project duration.

This topic allows for the provision of financial support to third parties established in an EU member state or country associated with Horizon 2020 in line with the conditions set out in General Annex K, either to enhance impacts through punctual small scale experimentation and use of project results by third parties, or to award a prize following a contest organised by the beneficiaries.

To explore and consolidate a new technological direction in order to put it firmly on the map as a viable paradigm for future technology. To foster the interdisciplinary communities that are able to drive this forward, extending from the participating consortia to a wider European pool of expertise. To stimulate the emergence of a European innovation eco-system around a new technological paradigm, well beyond the world of research alone.

  • Scientific and technological contributions to the foundation and consolidation of a radically new future technology.
  • Potential for future returns in terms of societal or economic innovation or market creation.
  • Spreading excellence and building leading innovation capacity across Europe by involvement of key actors that can make a difference in the future, for example excellent young, researchers, ambitious high-tech SMEs or first-time participants to FET under Horizon 2020.[[First time participation here refers to the individuals involved, not to their institution or organisation.]]
  • Build-up of a goal oriented interdisciplinary community (within and beyond the consortium).
  • Emergence of an innovation ecosystem around a future technology in the theme addressed from outreach to and partnership with high potential actors in research and innovation, and from wider stakeholder/public engagement, with due consideration of aspects such as education, gender differences and long-term societal, ethical and legal implications.