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European coordinated research on long-term ICT and ICT-based scientific challenges

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - CHIST-ERA III (European coordinated research on long-term ICT and ICT-based scientific challenges)

Reporting period: 2017-12-01 to 2018-11-30

"CHIST‐ERA is a programme for funding research on emerging topics in Information and Communication Sciences and Technologies (ICST), which gathers national and regional research funding organisations in Europe and beyond, with the support of the EC through the ERA‐NET scheme. CHIST-ERA III covers the period from 01/12/2017 to 30/11/2022. CHIST‐ERA is supported by the FET programme of the EC and its focus is long‐term, transformational, multidisciplinary research. Its main objective is to reinforce the transnational collaboration between Member States in the area of ICST and to integrate the related national research communities in Europe through the funding of transnational research projects. Another goal is to encourage Open Science best practices.
In the framework of CHIST-ERA III, two joint transnational calls are planned (CHIST-ERA Calls 2017 and 2018), each covering two topics. The two topics for Call 2017 are ""Object recognition and manipulation by robots: Data sharing and experiment reproducibility"" and ""Industrial big data and process modelling for smart factories"". The two topics for the Call 2018 are ""Analog computing for artificial intelligence"" and ""Smart distribution of computing in dynamic networks"".
The consortium of CHIST-ERA gathers 29 national or regional funding organisations from 25 countries including one outside Europe: Quebec (Canada). This represents a significant expansion from the initial consortium, which gathered 9 funding organisations from 9 countries in 2009. CHIST‐ERA is thus the main hub for European funding organisations in ICST and ICST-based research.
While the scientific scope of this ERA‐NET is wide, for each call are selected two focused themes of common interest. Therefore, CHIST‐ERA launches each year one call on different selected topics. The topics are selected in particular for their potential to lead to significant breakthroughs, and where there is need to work at a European scale to reach a critical mass.
This goal is served by three operational objectives, namely:
1. Setting the basis for effective and durable coordination and cooperation of the CHIST‐ERA funding organisations;
2. Identifying and sharing areas of common interest and new ambitious research topics with a potential high impact on future EU industrial research and competitiveness;
3. Launching common calls for research proposals and implement follow‐up processes.
CHIST‐ERA aims at overcoming the fragmentation of long‐term ICST research along national lines and thus creating synergies to amplify the activities of the national and regional funding organisations. It contributes to the development of a coordinated scientific policy throughout the European Research Area, and fulfils the needs and reinforces the strengths of the European ICST research community, so that it can be at the leading edge of world competition."
During the reporting period, from 01/12/2017 to 30/11/2018, 4 calls have been managed at different stages, thus covering 8 topics.
- Call 2016: Contracting of the selected projects and projects kick-off
- Call 2017: Call evaluation and selection, contracting of the selected projects
- Call 2018: Call topics selection and definition, call publication
- Call 2019: Call topics selection
The selection of the Call 2019 topics was advanced compared to the classical timeline of CHIST-ERA in order to be known at the time of submitting the CHIST-ERA IV proposal (end of December 2018).
In line with the work programme of CHIST‐ERA, from 2009 to 2018, 9 joints call for research proposals have been launched along a regular and efficient yearly cycle. CHIST‐ERA has thus successfully anchored the initiative in the portfolio of activities of its consortium members, acting as an operational platform for research funding organisations willing to co‐operate in the area of ICST to leverage the impact of the FET programme of the European Commission.
Each call is published within a relatively short timeframe of less than twelve months after the topics selection to maintain a high level of relevance of the calls in very competitive evolving ICST areas which need reactivity.
The success of the calls in terms of number of proposals submitted since the first call (393 - approx. 50 per call) and the total volume of funding requested (366 M€ - approx. 0.9-1 M€ per proposal) indicates the high expectations of the scientific community for such a novel approach targeting high‐risk, high‐impact focused research topics.
In addition to implementing joint calls, it is part of CHIST‐ERA’s mission to follow the progress of the funded projects. For this purpose, the funded projects produce a yearly activity report and to attend the yearly CHISTERA projects seminar where they present their results. These are assessed by experts in order to provide a comprehensive vision of the scientific results. These experts thus contribute to produce an overall assessment and a portfolio analysis of CHIST‐ERA.
As part of the project, the funding organisations in CHIST‐ERA worked since the beginning of the CHIST‐ERA I ERA‐NET to ensure the sustainability of the network. CHIST‐ERA is open to new funding organisations, and in parallel is interacting at different levels with sister initiatives and in particular the FLAG‐ERA and QuantERA ERA‐NETs.
As a consequence of the attractiveness of past calls and of a proactive approach to convince new funding organisations in Europe to join the consortium, the number of partners in CHIST‐ERA has been constantly growing with currently 29 partners on board, to be compared to 9 at the beginning of CHIST‐ERA I.
This ERA‐NET coordinates the long‐term research vision at national and European level in the area of ICST in order to leverage the research efforts on some strategic topics that will determine the future competitiveness as well as the scientific leadership of Europe. It contributes to making Europe a world leader in the area of long‐term multidisciplinary transformative research in ICST. It also reduces the fragmentation of long‐term ICST research along national lines and thus creates synergy to amplify the action of the national agencies, to contribute decisively to the development of a concerted scientific policy throughout the ERA.
The following impacts related to the research projects are expected:
- Selection and launch of a significant number of research projects contributing to the joint vision developed by the programme owners;
- Strengthen the coordination of different projects and related scientific communities by organizing systematic project assessment conferences;
- High impact of research results produced by the projects, leading to EU competitiveness: Increased positioning of EU research and researchers on those selected topics, allowing developing future international collaborations where European groups would take the lead; experience in collaboration between national programme owners that will pave the way to other joint programming activities where and when appropriate; coordinate, interface, and open up mutually the national programmes of its partners in order to enhance collaboration among the national communities and unify the European Research Area in ICST.
As a constant action, CHIST‐ERA wants to collaborate with national and regional funding organisations beyond those initially present in the consortium, so as to spread the benefits of increased collaboration throughout the European Research Area.