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INnovation and excellence in massive-scale COMmunications and information processING

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - INCOMING (INnovation and excellence in massive-scale COMmunications and information processING)

Reporting period: 2020-01-01 to 2021-03-31

H2020 project INCOMING (http://incoming.ftn.uns.ac.rs/) aims to enhance research capacity and innovation potential of the Centre for intelligent COmmunications, Networking and Information proCessing (ICONIC) in the domain of 5G technologies and large-scale information processing. ICONIC centre (http://iconic.ftn.uns.ac.rs/) is established in 2017 at the Faculty of Technical Sciences (FTN) of the University of Novi Sad (UNS). It gathers 22 academic staff members and 20 early stage researchers (ESRs), bringing together expertise in wireless communications, distributed signal processing, machine learning and artificial intelligence, reconfigurable hardware design, system design and verification.

INCOMING project accelerates the evolution of ICONIC centre by building strong connections with three leading EU partners: Aalborg University (AAU), Chalmers University of Technology (CHALMERS) and German Aerospace Centre (DLR). Through INCOMING project, ICONIC centre will establish research collaboration and networking channels, create foundation for future strong and lasting ties through engagement of early stage researchers (ESRs), and connect academic, innovation and development capacities for future joint research and development. ICONIC centre has an ambition to establish itself as a leading research centre in the domain of wireless communications and information processing in the region. ICONIC targets visible role in 5G ecosystem as a point of education and knowledge sharing through establishment of 5G Innovation and Technology Hub (5G-IT-Hub) as part of the ICONIC centre (http://5ghub.ftn.uns.ac.rs/).

Summarizing the above, the principal objectives of the INCOMING project are:
• to make ICONIC centre regional research lighthouse in the domain of massive wireless communications and information processing, reconfigurable hardware development, and 5G technologies, services and applications, with wide international visibility and recognition.
• to create 5G Innovation and Technology Hub (5G-IT-Hub) as part of the ICONIC centre which will serve as a platform for knowledge exchange, sharing of ideas, training, networking, innovation initiatives in the domain of 5G technologies and beyond.
• to establish close and lasting ties with INCOMING partners, and with their help, to establish EU-wide and world-wide network of relationships with relevant research groups and stakeholders in the domain of 5G technologies.
The work performed during the first reporting period (RP1) followed the initial plan that consists of a set of project activities divided into seven work packages (WPs). Due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, all the project activities are performed in online mode.

WP2 lead by AAU is dealing with research and innovation activities in the domain of massive Internet of Things (IoT). The main mechanism for joint research activities within WP2, the staff exchanges, could not be performed due to COVID-19 travel restrictions. The project thus failed to achieve MS3 at month five of the project (first staff exchange started). 7 research and 5 development mini-projects in the domain of massive IoT are established and executed in online mode. The first joint conference paper, coauthored by FTN and DLR researchers, has been presented achieving the milestone 5 (MS5). The first expert training on random access for massive machine-type communications provided by DLR experts has been successfully implemented as an online event.

WP3 lead by CHALMERS is dealing with massive-scale distributed information processing. 12 research and 3 development mini-projects are established and executed in online mode. The first joint journal paper, coauthored by FTN and CHALMERS researchers, has been submitted for publication in an IEEE journal. The first project school is implemented successfully as an online event, gathering 44 active participants and 13 lecturers including 2 guest lecturers. The school has been delayed for three months as compared to the original schedule (due to COVID-19), leading to a delay in delivery of Deliverable D3.4 (M9 to M12).

WP4 deals with promotion of 5G technology and applications through 5G-IT-Hub. 5G-IT-Hub is established in month 6 of the project and its active webpage marked achievent of the second milestone (MS2). Three Seminar Series in 5G-IT-Hub are kick-started on time, achieving milestone five (MS5), and 6 lectures in 3 series are delivered during RP1. Innovation activities and connections with local/regional industry are under way and several notable results are achieved (IEEE VTS UAV Innovation Challenge first prize, Serbian Innovation Fund grant for a Proof-of-Concept NB-IoT solution).

WP5 is devoted to early stage researchers (ESRs) at the ICONIC centre involved in the INCOMING project. The process of ESR progress monitoring and tracking is established and lead by WP5 leader. 20 ICONIC ESRs are involved whose integration in R&D mini projects and collaboration with EU partners is carefully planned and tracked.

WP6 is devoted to dissemination, outreach and networking activities initiated with the first brain-storming week held live in Novi Sad in January 2021. The first project special session has been postponed to BalkanCom 2021 and will take place in September 2021. ICONIC researchers participated in about 15 events (including TV shows, interviews, invited lectures) providing significant outreach to wider community, discussing the benefits of 5G technology and raising voice against unfounded and non-scientific claims about 5G health risks. Due to COVID travel constraints, dissemination to research community is focused on journal publications. Total of 23 journal and 14 are published during RP1 by ICONIC researchers.
INCOMING project EU partner institutions: AAU, CHALMERS and DLR are renowned for their research in massive IoT communications and large-scale network-wide information processing. The EU leading partners are carefully matched to the ICONIC centre expertise in these research areas to further support production of high-impact research and development results. Research and development mini-projects actively involve selected experts from EU partners with the first joint conference and journal papers being submitted and accepted during RP1.

Fast transition from research concepts to the proof-of-concept implementations will be one of the INCOMING project main targets given the blend of theoretically- and implementation-oriented researchers at ICONIC. This is evident after RP1, since several promising research avenues are translated into working prototypes. ICONIC staff memebers materialized the work on INCOMING project topics as a basis for a new H2020 research and innovation projects, student competitions and funding for innovative research. For example, since the INCOMING kick-started, ICONIC researchers are awarded two H2020 RIA projects, an innovation project funding is awarded by Serbian Innovation Fund, and a team of ICONIC PhD students won the first prize in IEEE UAV innovation challenge.
ICONIC centre logo
ICONIC UAV cellular NB-IoT communications experiments
Invited Lecture Prof. Branka Vucetic (University of Sydney) - 1st Brainstorming Week
Kick-off Meeting - Novi Sad - 20.01.2020.
H2020 INCOMING project logo
5G Innovation and Technology Hub Lecture - Poster for Stefano Cioni lecture
5G IT Hub logo
ICONIC UAV experimentation platform
ICONIC centre massive NB-IoT testbed (100 static and 50 mobile NB-IoT nodes)
ICONIC - staff members - 2020