The Internet architecture has developed as a mix of centralised, networked and device-based technologies with design choices largely coming from the past. In particular, the questions of security and energy efficiency were relatively secondary in the initial architecture design of the Internet. At the same time, ever-larger fractions of the internet as we know it today are operated by a small number of platforms controlling end-users’ data, online transactions and infrastructure, effectively leading to a concentration and centralisation of the Internet.
Proposals should focus on advancing the state-of-the-art in one of the two research areas below:
- To review and upgrade the open Internet architecture (hardware, software, protocols) to increase the performance of the network, adapt it to new application requirements, improve quality of service, make it more resilient to security threats, more energy efficient and respectful of the environment (e.g. reparability, recyclability), and increasingly supportive of open and decentralised technologies and services.
- Address the current limitations of decentralised technologies, such as Blockchain and DLT, including those related to scalability, interoperability, energy efficiency, privacy or security, in order to make them dependable building blocks of the future Internet. This research area will explore DLT-based solutions, enabling the exploitation of data coming from a high number and various types of sources, eliminating data silos through decentralised and interoperable approaches, while helping individuals and organisations better govern their data when they participate in joint value chains where cooperating partners can also be competitors. Such solutions should ensure a high level of trust concerning data provenance and authentication with (real-time) traceability, data integrity, data exploitation as well as data protection and privacy when it relates to individuals.
Proposals should clearly identify the research area they are addressing.
The focus is on advanced research that is linked to new technology breakthrough and real-life applications or use cases. However, apps and services that innovate without a research component are not covered by this topic. Proposals funded under this topic should include standardisation activities to promote the technologies developed in international standard setting organisations.
The proposals should support open source software and open hardware design, including how to maintain key open source building blocks of the internet, access to testing and operational infrastructures, as well as an IPR regime ensuring lasting impact and reusability of results.
Financial support to third parties
Each RIA will support third party projects from outstanding open source innovators, academic research groups, high-tech startups, SMEs and other multidisciplinary actors, so that multiple actors are funded and collectively contribute to building a more decentralised and trustworthy Internet. As the primary purpose of the action is to support and mobilise internet innovators, a minimum of 80% of the total requested EU contribution should be allocated to financial support to third parties, selected through open calls.
The consortium should provide the programme logic for the third-party projects, ensure the coherence and coordination of these projects, and provide the necessary technical support, as well as coaching and mentoring, in order to ensure that the collection of third party projects contributes to a significant advancement and impact in the research and innovation domain, including in terms of standardisation. These tasks cannot be implemented using the budget earmarked for the financial support to third parties.
Beneficiaries should make explicit the intervention logic for the area, their capacity to attract top internet and DLT talents, to deliver value-added services to the third-party projects, as well as their expertise and capacity in managing the full life-cycle of the open calls transparently and efficiently (a minimum of five open calls during the lifetime of the project). They should explore synergies with other research and innovation actions, supported at regional, national or European level, to increase the overall impact.
The Commission considers that proposals with an overall duration of typically 36 months would allow these outcomes to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other durations. For ensuring focused effort, third parties will be funded through projects typically in the EUR 50 000 to 150 000 range per project, with indicative duration of 9 to 12 months.
In this topic the integration of the gender dimension (sex and gender analysis) in research and innovation content is not a mandatory requirement.