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NGI Program for Open INTErnet Renovation

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - NGI-POINTER (NGI Program for Open INTErnet Renovation)

Reporting period: 2021-07-01 to 2022-12-31

Starting in mid-1990s, the advent of mobility, wireless communications and the web substantially shifted Internet usage and communication paradigms. This accentuated long-term concerns about present Internet architecture and prompted interest in alternative designs. Meanwhile, many practical workarounds have been found to cater for explosive demand. These workarounds raise cost and complexity unnecessarily —actually, they make matters worse. The overall situation has accumulated into a huge technical debt that is again circumvented in fragile ways, contributing significantly to the ossification of the internet. Now we do not only need to upgrade the original technology , but we need to also mitigate the damage caused by clever workarounds that became less temporary than anticipated.
Thus, the ultimate goal of ‘NGI-POINTER’ is to change the underlying fabric of the internet and the web, by supporting promising bottom up projects that are able to build, on top of state-of-the-art research, scalable protocols and tools to assist in the practical transition or migration to new or updated technologies, whilst keeping European Values at the core.
At the heart of the NGI is an architectural evolution that improves upon legacy core protocols of the internet. Such architectural changes will have to be introduced in a way that do not unnecessarily break anything. The complexity of designing a successful architecture upgrade is easily illustrated by the fact that over half of the lifetime of the internet has already been spent on the (arguably not very successful) move away from IPv4. Given the diversity of use cases of today’s internet, there are diverging design considerations and (potentially non-overlapping) solution spaces for different challenges which need to be investigated. Adoption of new protocols can leave room for complementary solutions to cater for different circumstances and different trade-offs (for instance between resilience, scalability and energy efficiency).
Significant effort will have to go into understanding and mitigating the many practical aspects of potential transition from the current internet. Architecture renovation is widely recognised as critically important for the long term, and can provide structural solutions to problems that can only be partially mitigated within the current architecture – and at significant cost.
In such a context, ‘NGI-POINTER’ will scout and support European-based ‘internet talents’ in developing and providing new marketable solutions, backed in state-of-the-art technology and research, that provide alternative and/or auxiliary tools and protocols with specific value propositions for society and/or self-sustainable Business Models for specific use case areas related with internet architecture renovation such as: Privacy-by-design; Internet of Things; Network optimization; Virtualization and isolation; Limitations in the TCP/IP protocol suite; eCommerce security; Autonomous Network operations and control; Energy Efficiency (see section 1.4. for further details). As ‘internet talents’ we will consider researchers from outstanding research groups as well as organisation and individuals with outstanding track records and with links to internet governance bodies and/or open source communities that are owners of the internet renovation problems of today. We will call these internet talents, hereinafter, ‘NGI architects’.
Thus, ‘NGI-POINTER’ will support the emergence of a New Generation of Internet tools developed by “NGI architects” towards a higher efficiency, scalability, security and resilience in the evolution of internet architecture. We will do so by supporting NGI architects in creating highly innovative products that turn the results of the scientific research from universities, research centres and developer communities into scalable and marketable products or services.
We will target, especially, those talented and outstanding profiles that are not being supported today by public programs for Research and Innovation due to the administrative burden and/or the bias effect towards certain groups of applicants in grant evaluation. Moreover, we will guarantee transparency and trustworthiness of the selection and follow up process by using an Open Call Management System backed in Distributed Ledger Technologies (DLT).
‘NGI-POINTER’ aims to find ambitious “NGI architects” to change the underlying fabric of the internet and the web, by supporting promising bottom up projects that are able to build, on top of state-of-the-art research, scalable protocols and tools to assist in the practical transition or migration to new or updated technologies, whilst keeping European Values at the core.
‘NGI-POINTER’ reached the first stage of its vision by implementing an ambitious NGI Work Program which consists of:
➢ A talent discovery process powered by Big Data Analytics technology for identifying, scouting and pre-scoring outstanding NGI architects within 8 Use Case Domains prioritized by the project. The Project Consortium adopted a proactive approach to talent discovery, going beyond existing communities and “usual players”.
➢ Pan-European attraction of outstanding NGI architects through a wide dissemination of the NGI-POINTER Open Call by implementing a Growth Hacking marketing campaign using world-class events, specialized on-line communities, social media platforms, and supported by Digital Single Market ecosystems, business accelerators, and the Digital Innovation Hub Network. These Open Calls were enhanced with the Big Data Analytics tools, which will detect “dormant” talent in terms of EC Open Calls and allow to establish a point of contact.
➢ Trustable and unbiased selection of "NGI Architects": ‘NGI-POINTER’ has defined a robust process to discover and select promising project ideas (bottom-up projects) proposed by outstanding researchers. NGI Pointer launched 2 open calls in the first 18 months and selected a total of 36 projects (23 in the first open call and 13 are still being onboarded since the call closed earlier this year.
➢ Technology Mentoring: The “NGI Architects” receive Expert-in-Residence type of services provided by a team of engineers and developers linked to internet governance bodies and open source communities specialized in: auditing, testing and improving protocols and open source software and hardware that is used to manage internet; isolation of contingencies, redundancy and self-repair; disruption tolerance; transparency; better real-time behaviour; and energy efficiency. This support will help the “NGI Architects” to prepare the technology for market take up and standardization.
➢ Business Mentoring: Exposure to a custom-made ‘Business modelling Journey’ that will involve mentoring meetings led by mentors who are specialists in scientific and open source business modelling and entrepreneurship.
➢ Performance Monitoring: The project will monitor performance of all of the teams to ensure overall quality and support for the best teams.
The projects supports individual sub-projects that provide the innovations and results. Specifically the project provides results in the fields of internet applications, identity, virtualisation, hardware, transport/networking, security, tools, privacy-by-design communication protocols and platforms as well as novel internet paradigms.
Open Call 1 Stats
Open Call 2 Stats