In order to coordinate the provision through the EOSC Portal of state-of-the-art research purely enabling services across Europe, proposals should build on the competences of pan-European e-Infrastructures of diverse domains to ensure multidisciplinary research and synergies with national and regional programmes. The progressive federation of the services and resources under the awarded proposals, together with the progressive connection of ESFRI research infrastructures[[INFRAEOSC-04-2018.]] and thematic clouds developed under other parts of the Horizon 2020 programme, should allow the EOSC Portal to provide a catalogue that increasingly meets the researchers’ needs covering the full research life cycle.
All the grants awarded under this topic will be implemented in the same period so that they can work on potential synergies, and coordinate in the overall service offering as well as in the communication and dissemination activities to avoid overlaps and fragmentation. To this extent, proposals should foresee dedicated activities for cooperation with the other selected projects and earmark appropriate resources.
Proposals should clearly identify one and only one of the following areas:
(a1) Distributed and cloud computing resources enabling researchers and other users to process and analyse data in a distributed computing environment. The services should include, but not be limited to, running virtual machines on demand with complete control over computing services, executing compute and data-intensive workloads, analysing large datasets and executing parallel computing tasks, utilizing large amount of processing capacity over long periods of time, sharing resources and enabling collaborative research.
(a2) Data services providing cost-effective and interoperable solutions for data management and long-term curation and preservation. The needs for discoverability, accessibility, interoperability, text and data mining, transfer of data between data resources and computational facilities, storing, managing and accessing persistent identifiers (PIDs) and essential metadata (PID records), reusability, annotation and integrity across disciplines should be accommodated in multi-disciplinary and multi-sectoral contexts. All these services should be aligned with the EOSC rules, considering also ethical and regulatory requirements for sensitive data.
(a3) Services supporting scholarly communication and open access: based on existing initiatives across Europe (institutional and thematic repositories, aggregators, etc.), the services should empower researchers and research communities and initiatives with the necessary tools and functionalities for systematic publishing, analysing and re-using of scientific results beyond publications (data, software and other artefacts), as well as supporting long-term preservation and curation. The services should also enable scientific workflows with adequate metrics and monitoring mechanisms supporting career development and the monitoring of funding and research impact. Support to a catch-all repository for open research should be provided.
(a4) Above the net services are added-value applications and services that enable users to communicate, interact and collaborate effectively in a heterogeneous and distributed federated environment. The scope of the “Above-the-net” services is broad and may range from simple tools to complex collaborative platforms (including real-time communications and media) that empower the work of cross-border virtual teams with different affiliation members. Above-the-net services make use of the underlying connectivity infrastructure and its core building blocks (such as security and AAI[[Authentication and Authorization Infrastructure.]]).
(a5) Services and resources from non-research public sector data providers (such as Open Data initiatives/EU Open Data Portal and other initiatives under the European Common Data Space): funding should cover the integration of the services and resources so that they are accessible through the EOSC Portal.
(a6) Additional research enabling services that are not covered under any of the areas described in areas a1 to a5 and that do not overlap with existing services accessible through the EOSC Portal. Services should be of a generic value to the whole research community, such as text and data mining or Copernicus services.
Grants awarded under this topic will be complementary to the actions awarded under topic INFRAEOSC-03-2020. The main purpose of the collaboration agreements referred to in Article 41.4 of the MGA is to describe the terms and conditions for the provision of services through the EOSC Portal. The proposals have to be flexible in order to take into account all the relevant governance and business models, rules for participation, operational requirements, standards, etc. in accordance with topic INFRAEOSC-03-2020. For the areas from a1 to a4, proposals should be built on the capacity of established pan-European e-Infrastructures to act as interlocutor with the EOSC Portal operators.
Funding should cover, in particular, the costs incurred by service providers when their services are accessed through the EOSC Portal. Service providers in the consortia must be able to determine the cost of a unit of access and to account for the unit of access consumed by users beyond their usual user community. The reimbursement mechanism shall be in line with the provisions of Article 16.2 of the MGA regarding virtual access activities[[See description of Virtual access activities in part D of the section “Specific features for Research Infrastructures”.]] and with the Decision authorising the use of unit costs for the actions involving virtual access[[http://ec.europa.eu/research/participants/data/ref/h2020/other/legal/unit_costs/unit-costs_virtual-access_infra.pdf]] under the Research Infrastructures Part of the Horizon 2020 Framework Programme. Contributions to the capital investments of the infrastructure is an eligible category of costs solely when declared on the basis of unit costs and only for the portion used to provide virtual access under the awarded grant. For areas a1 to a4, it is expected that a substantial part of the total budget per awarded grant will be dedicated to cover the costs of EOSC users accessing the services.
Only platforms and services based on mature systems and technologies[[See point G. Technology readiness level of the General Annexes for further references.]] will be supported. An initial phase to reach the maturity needed for the integration to the EOSC Portal may be foreseen. The services have to be persistent and adapt to the emerging needs of the EOSC users and the underlying technologies. They also need to be modular in order to be used with heterogeneous ICT services such as cloud, data management services, data archives, data processing, etc. They should be intuitive to be used by various users with different profiles and digital competence levels. They need to demonstrate added value to the EOSC Portal users and quality/reliability, through the use of certified mechanisms and standards including any accreditation and certification schemes anticipated under EOSC. They should comply with FAIR (findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable) principles and standards produced under well-established initiatives (e.g. RDA). To the extent possible, services should facilitate the re-use of research data for innovation by diverse stakeholders, including the public and commercial sectors.
Grants awarded under this topic will be subject to the following additional dissemination obligations for interoperability: consortia must make active efforts to freely share, in a timely manner and as appropriate, standards, specifications and methodologies from their activities with the other projects awarded under the same topic in order to foster to the maximum extent interoperability between the different services. Applicants must acknowledge and incorporate these obligations in their proposal, outlining the efforts they will make towards this in Annex I.
Grants awarded under this topic are expected to carry out an analysis regarding energy consumption and environmental impact of technologies used in the context of the project. The analysis should include an action plan in order to limit the carbon and energy footprint with a specific reference to key performance indicators and the standard EN 50600-4[[EN 50600-4: Information technology: Data centre facilities and infrastructures. For the link to the latest published version, tools and resources regarding the standard, check: https://ictfootprint.eu/en-50600-4-factsheet-0]] together with a timeline for implementation of the defined milestones.
The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of up to:
- EUR 8 million would allow the challenge in area a1 to be addressed appropriately;
- EUR 7 million would allow the challenge in area a2 to be addressed appropriately;
- EUR 4 million would allow the challenge in area a3 to be addressed appropriately;
- EUR 2 million would allow the challenge in area a4 to be addressed appropriately.
- EUR 1 million would allow the challenge in area a5 to be addressed appropriately.
- EUR 2 million would allow the challenge in area a6 to be addressed appropriately.
Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.
The Commission considers that proposals requesting a duration of 30 months would allow the challenge in this topic to be addressed appropriately.
While the overall management and operation of the activities of the EOSC Portal is addressed in INFRAEOSC-03-2020, the challenge in this topic is to effectively coordinate at pan-European level the provision through the EOSC Portal of state-of-the-art research enabling services from a wide range of national, regional and institutional public infrastructures in Europe, covering diverse thematic domains, and further non-research resources in order to: 1) scale up the EOSC Portal; and 2) set-up a model for interaction between service providers and the EOSC Portal operators through pan-European e-infrastructure entities, based on transparency and effectiveness of cost compensation.
- Scale up the EOSC Portal through a growing catalogue to the broadest possible set of high quality services and resources supporting the whole research life cycle from service providers across Europe and beyond.
- More scientific communities across Europe are equipped and have access to state-of-the-art services (including storage and computing) for their research activities, increasing data-intensive research.
- Facilitate Open Science practices across the research community in Europe with services to connect, share and re-use all type of research outputs, fostering collaboration and enhancing scientific discovery.
- Support the collaboration in data provision and exchange across regional and national related infrastructures allowing the integration of data from a myriad of resources and research communities.
- Foster synergies between pan-European e-infrastructures operators, leading to harmonised services, improved use of resources and economies of scale across Europe.
- Coordinate and incentivise institutional and public actors so that they open up their services and resources to researchers across Europe, through a transparent and quality assured process.