Call for proposals 2021 - WORLD LEADING DATA AND COMPUTING TECHNOLOGIES 2021 HORIZON-CL4-2021-DATA-01 Open!

Objectives

Proposals for topics under this Destination should set out a credible pathway to contributing to the following expected impact of Cluster 4 as set out in Horizon Europe Strategic Plan:

  • Globally attractive, secure and dynamic data-agile economy, by developing and enabling the uptake of the next-generation computing and data technologies and infrastructures (including space infrastructure and data), enabling the European single market for data with the corresponding data spaces and a trustworthy artificial intelligence ecosystem.

As data becomes the new fuel of the economy and a key asset to address our societal challenges, the EU cannot afford to have the data of its businesses, public sector and citizens stored and exploited largely outside its borders. This is affecting not only our economic performance but also our security, safety and sovereignty.

As announced in the EU data strategy (COM(2020) 66), the EU has the means to become the world’s most secure and trustful data hub. For that to happen, an important investment effort in the development of data technologies is needed to support the use, interoperability and analytical exploitation of EU-wide common data spaces targeting essential economic sectors and areas of public interest. The COVID-19 crisis showed how essential it is to master data technologies to address our societal challenges and to incentivize public and private stakeholders to trustfully share data.

The investments should cover the necessary data infrastructure and service platforms to enable virtualisation, adaptation of data and meta-data (including standards for data sharing) as well as common analytics tools. Investment in this Destination will reinforce the cloud and data infrastructure supply industry and make data accessible to research, education, businesses and governments across the EU in a way that meets European values and requirements. It will focus on energy-efficient and trustworthy data infrastructures and related services. The EU also needs to swiftly develop generic cloud to edge to IoT technologies, methods, tools and platforms for the support of future hyper-distributed applications in any business/societal sector.

Europe’s lead in the data economy also increasingly depends on its capability to autonomously develop key High Performance Computing (HPC) technologies, provide access to world-class supercomputing and data infrastructures, maintain global leadership in HPC applications, and foster the acquisition of HPC skills. This is the purpose of the activities funded by the EuroHPC Joint Undertaking.

Investments in this Destination contribute substantially to climate change objectives. Energy efficiency is a key design principle in actions, which will lead to new technologies and solutions that are cornerstones for a sustainable economy and society. These solutions range from environmentally sustainable data operations to balancing loads among centralised clouds and distributed edge computing, from decentralised energy sources to energy-harvesting sensors/devices, etc.

Finally, a robust data ecosystem rests as much on the wide, practical availability of top solutions and results, as on the transparency of the research and innovation process. To ensure trustworthiness and wide adoption by user communities for the benefit of society, actions should promote high standards of transparency and openness. Actions should ensure that the processes and outcomes of research and innovation align with the needs, values and expectations of society, in line with Responsible Research and Innovation.

This Destination is structured into the following headings, which group topics together with similar outcomes to address a common challenge:

  • Data sharing in the common European data space

Data sharing and data interoperability are still at their infancy; few data markets for sharing industrial data exist. In a recent survey[[https://ec.europa.eu/digital-single-market/en/news/sme-panel-consultation-b2b-data-sharing]], more than 40% of the SMEs interviewed claim they had problems in acquiring data from other companies. The diffusion of platforms for data sharing and the availability of interoperable datasets is one of the key success factors which may help to drive the European data economy and industrial transformation. On the other hand, Europe is developing a strong legal framework for data and is well positioned to exploit data from the public sector. The potential of European industrial data (from digitising industry) creates great synergies to feed European data ecosystems with industrial, personal, and public sector data, to be shared and exploited in full compliance with the ethical and legal framework.

In line with the FAIR principles (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable), the overall objective of the topics in this heading is to make Europe the most successful area in the world in terms of data sharing and data re-use while respecting the legal framework relating to security and privacy and fostering collaboration and building on existing initiatives.

  • Strengthening Europe’s data analytics capacity

Recent developments in sensor networks, cyber-physical systems, and the ubiquity of the Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) have increased the collection of data (including health care, social media, smart communities, industry, manufacturing, education, construction, agriculture, water management finance/insurance, tourism, education, and more) to an enormous scale (by 2025, 463 exabytes of data will be produced every day in the world). There is significant potential for advances of data analytics at the intersection of many scientific, technology and societal fields (e.g. data mining, AI, complex systems, network science, statistics, natural language understanding, mathematics, particle physics, astronomy, earth observation…), and new methods and approaches are needed along the whole data life-cycle and value chain.

The overall objective of the topics in this heading is to make the EU fully autonomous in processing, combining, modelling and analysing such large amounts of data for efficiently predicting future courses of action with high accuracy and advanced decision-making strategies. The use of natural resources is reduced and waste avoided by making it possible to replace classical experiments by data-driven digital models. The technological achievements under this heading will support the development of responsible and useful AI solutions, built on high-quality and high-value data.

  • From Cloud to Edge to IoT for European Data

Today, 80% of the processing and analysis of data takes place in data centres and centralised computing facilities, and 20% in smart connected objects; only 1 European company in 4 use cloud technologies; 75% of the European cloud market is dominated by non-EU players. Considering the pace of development in this area outside of the EU, the implementation of the activities will require R&I instruments with great flexibility, including the support of SMEs and start-ups, to nurture a European ecosystem and deliver swift results.

In line with Europe’s data, green and industrial strategies, for capitalising on the paradigm shift to the edge, Europe needs to pool major investments. Focus must be on the development and deployment of the next generation computing components, systems and platforms that enable this transition to a compute continuum with strong capacities at the edge and far edge in an energy efficient and trustworthy manner.

The overall objective of the topics in this heading is to establish the European supply and value chains in cloud to edge computing to Internet of Things (IoT) and tactile internet by integrating relevant elements of computing, connectivity, IoT, AI cybersecurity. New cloud/edge technologies with enhanced performance enabled by AI will increase European autonomy in the data economy required to support future hyper-distributed applications.

Finally, actions on high-end computing for exascale performance and beyond will be entirely implemented in the Joint Undertaking EuroHPC.

Today, Europe critically depends on foreign High Performance Computing (HPC) technologies that are essential for scientific and industrial innovation and competitiveness. By 2022 the next generation supercomputers will reach exascale performance, none of them with European technology components.

The overall objective such actions is to ensure digital autonomy for Europe in key high-end supercomputing technology (hardware and software) and applications, and developing the first exascale supercomputer based predominantly on European technology by 2026.

Activities beyond R&I investments will be needed to realise the expected impacts: testing, experimentation, demonstration, and support for take-up using the capacities, infrastructures, and European Digital Innovation Hubs made available under the Digital Europe Programme; large-scale roll-out of innovative new technologies and solutions (e.g. interconnections between High-Performance Computing centres) via the Connecting Europe Facility; further development of skills and competencies via the European Institute of Innovation and Technology, in particular EIT Digital; upscaling of trainings via the European Social Fund +; and use of financial instruments under the InvestEU Fund for further commercialisation of R&I outcomes.

Expected impact

Proposals for topics under this Destination should set out a credible pathway to contributing to world-leading data and computing technologies, and more specifically to one or several of the following impacts:

  • Improved European leadership in the global data economy
  • Maximised social and economic benefits from the wider and more effective use of data
  • Reinforced Europe’s ability to manage urgent societal challenges (e.g. data for crisis management, digital for clean energy).

Actions

This call covers the following topics:

  • HORIZON-CL4-2021-DATA-01-01: Technologies and solutions for compliance, privacy preservation, green and responsible data operations (AI, Data and Robotics Partnership) (RIA) (HORIZON-RIA - HORIZON Research and Innovation Actions)
  • HORIZON-CL4-2021-DATA-01-03: Technologies for data management (AI, Data and Robotics Partnership) (IA) (HORIZON-IA - HORIZON Innovation Actions)
  • HORIZON-CL4-2021-DATA-01-05: Future European platforms for the Edge: Meta Operating Systems (RIA) (HORIZON-RIA - HORIZON Research and Innovation Actions)
  • HORIZON-CL4-2021-DATA-01-07: Coordination and Support of the ‘Cloud-Edge-IoT’ domain (CSA) (HORIZON-CSA - HORIZON Coordination and Support Actions)
  • HORIZON-CL4-2021-DATA-01-08: Roadmap for next generation computing and systems technologies (CSA) (HORIZON-CSA - HORIZON Coordination and Support Actions)

European community funding

The Community provisional funding available for the call for proposals is:

  • 141,00 Million EUR (Global Budget)

All the important deadlines

  • 21 October 2021 - in 27 days (Deadline for the presentation of proposals)

Further information about the call

Official webpage of the call

Useful documents

  • Work Program (Legal base)

Organisations eligible to participate

Opened to the following bodies or institutes with legal status established in the covered areas:

  • Any legal organisation

Covered areas

Bodies or institutes must have their registered legal seat in one of the countries taking part in the Programme which are:

  • European Union (EU)

Directorate-Generale responsible

Directorate-General for Research

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