Awarding of specific grants in a FPA will follow the rules and procedures established in the Financial Regulation.
Within the GÉANT Framework Partnership Agreement (GÉANT2020) awarded under topic EINFRA-8-2014 of the e-Infrastructures call, the consortium will be invited to submit proposals for two Specific Grant Agreements (SGA) addressing the objectives defined in the Framework Partnership Agreement (FPA) and action plan. The proposals will be evaluated according to the criteria established in the invitation from the Commission, complying with the Horizon 2020 general requirements of evaluation and selection procedures.
Proposals will address part (a) or (b), but not both.
SGA (a) Research and Education Networking – GÉANT (the proposal will cover all points below)
The aim of this SGA is to establish GÉANT and NREN[[The National research and education network (NREN) organisations are specialised internet service providers dedicated to supporting the needs of the research and education communities within their own country.]] ecosystem as the networking substrate for other e-infrastructures as well as the provider of services and applications underpinning the EOSC, exascale and any other research centric vertical solution.
The services and resources that the EOSC will make available to research communities and academia require reliable high speed network connectivity and trusted access mechanisms. Services offered will address the requirements of an ever increasing mobile work force that demands seamless and secure access to resources and collaboration tools wherever they are located. These should be state-of-the-art and support the vision of ""Making Europe the Best Place for Research and Innovation"".
The proposal will cover actions A to F as described in the FPA; it will also address all the points a.1) to a.3) as described below.
a.1) Provision of Operational Services (TRL 8 or above):
- Further develop the next-generation GÉANT network so as to ensure it remains the most advanced international network and maintains the EU’s leadership in research by providing a secured, safe, open and flexible, high-capacity, highly-available, user-empowered infrastructure and preventing potential security breaches, cyber-attacks or misuse of personal data, especially when large amounts of data are collected, stored and processed.
- Continue the evolution of the network and its related infrastructures by defining, developing and implementing new functionalities - including those relating to network virtualisation, software defined networking and network management and monitoring systems - which will improve the quality, flexibility and cost-effectiveness of end-user orientated services.
- Upgrade infrastructure for trust and identity services for the benefit of the research and education community and research collaborations, in order to meet commercial-grade operational standards and community expectations in support of business-critical applications. Align with the proposals retained under EINFRA-12-2017 in the use of pan-European identity federated services and facilitate their full integration into INFRAEOSC-03-2020.
- Improve the minimum service level of the smaller European NRENs and their users by ensuring connectivity speeds of 100 Gpbs (where technically and economically feasible) and by continuing the successful principle of European cost-sharing.
- Build a professional test environment for the testing and prototyping of new services that may evolve to a full operational service.
- Identify and deploy above-the-net services including those suitable for inclusion into the EOSC hub. The proposal will have to include coordination mechanisms with proposals retained under the topic INFRAEOSC-03-2020 and prepare an integration plan for those services.
The services offered under this point must be adequately documented in an open catalogue of services and will be periodically assessed by an external board approved by the Commission and common to all EU funded e-infrastructure services.
Access to facilities, resources and services will be funded in accordance with the conditions set out in Article 14.2 for virtual access to research infrastructures of the Model Specific Agreement for Framework Partnerships (identical to Article 16.2 of the General Grant Agreement). Capital investments (i.e. costs of renting, leasing, purchasing depreciable equipment, infrastructure or other assets) will be eligible costs for this specific partnership project, in accordance with the general eligibility conditions of the Model Grant Agreement.
a.2) Prototyping and piloting of new services (TRL6 or above):
- Enhance future generations of GÉANT platform by prototyping network components, modules, services and applications accessing wired/wireless infrastructures and networked resources (for example those may address software-defined security (SDSec), quantum encryption, Software Defined Networks (SDN) orchestration or blockchain-enabled services).
- Respond to the needs of extreme-scale systems (e.g. requiring massive data transfer capacity) and ultra-low latency applications (e.g. e-health, real-time performance). Keep pushing network performance to the limits.
- Support the piloting and prototyping of initiatives that will contribute to expand to the public sector and to industry the use of resources initially focused on the scientific community (e.g. like bringing the related services of projects like WiFi4EU[[https://ec.europa.eu/digital-single-market/en/wifi4eu-free-wi-fi-europeans]] to operational state)
- Bring to mainstream the use of collaborative technologies (e.g. virtual collaborative environments) based on interoperable standards in order to enable collaboration of virtual teams geographically dispersed, always operated in a secured and trusted manner.
a.3) International Cooperation, skills and dissemination
- Establish new collaboration agreements and develop further existing ones with NRENs or associations of NRENs outside the EU in order to foster cooperation in the domain of research and education and dedicate special attention to leading organizations in the domain of next generation Internet. Enable access to world-class research infrastructures necessary to address research challenges with a global dimension and promote the use of standards to allow seamless access to digital resources.
- Maintain support to highly visible ongoing initiatives in the domain of International Cooperation (like BELLA submarine cable and the successful ANA collaboration) by promoting the uptake in use of e-Infrastructures and showing tangible benefits for the EU and its partners.
- Elaborate analysis or studies over targeted countries or regions where NRENs are less developed. Assess the status quo of the research and education networks concerned and offer scenarios for future development taking a comprehensive stakeholder approach. Assess the impact of those scenarios.
- Strengthen the GÉANT community programme (task forces, special interest groups, workshops), including more openness to industry, public services and all e-Infrastructures.
- Improve compliance between GÉANT’s and Member States’ network infrastructures, processes and policies to established best-practice business standards for information security and IT service management.
- Evolve the GÉANT training offerings to the research and education community and beyond, to enhance skills in key areas including SDN, very high-speed networking monitoring, cybersecurity, software quality training, trust & identity
- Together with the NRENs, conduct a series of workshops on end user network services requirements to inform future product portfolio pipelines and help understand demand for new services.
- Strengthen the value proposition of the NREN network within the research and academic communities, emphasize the value proposition of GÉANT and the NRENs and the differentiated services they bring vs commodity services.
- Organize and participate in international events, fora or symposia to disseminate the value of the NRENs and e-Infrastructures at large and their contribution to the Open Science principles.
- Contribute to the development of the European high-speed connectivity layer, targeting collaboration with other European e-Infrastructure providers through the seamless availability of network, data and computing services.
- Provide to researchers and academia ubiquitous access to resources and collaboration tools regardless of their physical location or institution of affiliation.
- Ensure availability of advanced services for research and education across all regions of Europe by taking into consideration the actual and foreseeable regional demands and feasibility aspects.
- Extended service offer that will be reflected in an open digital repository or catalogue of services for NREN's, end user institutions and scientists, as well as new users like public services and industry.
- Improve connections between European communities and third countries / regions enabling international research and education, and advancing Open Science policy
SGA (b) Increase of long-term backbone capacity
The aim of this SGA is to go beyond the state-of the-art by restructuring the backbone network through exploration and procurement of long-term Indefeasible rights of use (IRUs) and associated equipment to increase the footprint, stimulating the market in cross-border communications infrastructure whilst decreasing the digital divide and reducing costs.
At least EUR 16 million from the total indicative budget is foreseen for point (b).
Considering the prospect of acquiring a long term indefeasible right of use, the option for full cost of purchasing equipment, infrastructure or other assets of Article 5.2.D.2 of the Model Specific Agreement for Framework Partnerships (identical to Article 6.2.D.2 of the General Grant Agreement)may be used instead of the standard model of depreciation costs.
- Contribute to the creation of sustainable eco-system by securing access to capacity and services in the long term and providing a stable and reliable environment for communities to embark in long run endeavours.
The standard evaluation criteria, thresholds, weighting for award criteria and the maximum rate of co-financing for this type of action are provided in parts D and H of the General Annexes with the following exceptions for the evaluation criteria of:
SGA (a) Research and Education Networking – GÉANT
For the criterion Excellence the third and fourth sub-criteria are substituted by:
- The extent to which the activities addressing the point ""Provision of Operational Services"" demonstrate that the concerned platforms and services are based on systems and technologies that have reached at least TRL 8.
- The extent to which the activities addressing the point ""Provision of Operational Services"" will offer access to state-of-the-art infrastructures and high quality services, and will enable users to conduct excellent research as demonstrated, inter-alia, by both the quality of the associated catalogue of services and the baseline and expected future benchmarking of related KPIs.
- The extent to which the activities addressing the point ""Prototyping and piloting of new services"" demonstrate that the concerned platforms and services are based on systems and technologies that have reached TRL 6 before the start of the project and will be brought to at least TRL 8 by the end of the project.
- The extent to which the activities addressing the point ""Prototyping and piloting of new services"" will improve, in quality and/or quantity, the services provided by state of the art e-infrastructures and enhance capacity for innovation and production of new knowledge.