"Ultra fast internet holds the key to delivering sustainable economic and social benefits" Commissioner Neelie Kroes
Researchers from all parts of the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) sector can apply for funding for projects in 2011. This research will focus on innovative internet applications to make infrastructures like health systems, energy grids or traffic management systems 'smart'.
The €90 million are part of the €300 million from the EU research framework programme (FP7) that will be provided for this purpose over 2011-2013 (see IP/10/966 and MEMO/10/339) – with a further €300 million coming from industry. This complements the Commission's €200 million yearly ICT support to ongoing research for internet technology. Under the Digital Agenda for Europe (see IP/10/581, MEMO/10/199 and MEMO/10/200 ), the Commission has committed to maintain the pace of yearly increases of the ICT research budget until 2013. The Digital Agenda also invites EU Member States to double annual total public spending on ICT research by 2020 to €11 billion.
Commission Vice-President for the Digital Agenda, Neelie Kroes, said: "Ultra fast internet holds the key to delivering sustainable economic and social benefits. Europe and its businesses should seize the opportunity to develop new technologies and applications that can increase tremendously the economic and social efficiency of processes we use every day."
Internet data traffic is today growing by 60% every year. We already rely on the Internet to deliver many essential services. In the coming years we will depend on it for delivering a whole range of new services supporting policy objectives in climate change, mobility, energy saving, healthcare, governance etc.
The aim of the Future Internet Public-Private Partnership is to improve key ICT infrastructures of Europe's economy and society by making them better able to process massive amounts of data coming from different sources. It should also render the Internet more reliable and secure to allow real time information to be processed into real time services.
Under the Future Internet Public-Private Partnership, €90 million of funding is available from the EU for 2011, with a further €210 million in 2012-2013. EU funding for the Future Internet PPP will go to strategic projects that link industry sectors across Europe to leverage advanced internet infrastructure and build innovative services. The call published today for 2011 seeks innovative projects integrating different industries to build on previous achievements and use the strengths of the public sector.
The Future Internet PPP aims to close the gap between research and innovation, and between technology supply and the user demand. To receive financial support, projects have to show commitment to the bigger picture. Phase one looks at integrating the underlying technology and developing use case scenarios; phase two looks at making available the future internet core platform, large scale trials and pilots; and phase three massively broadens the scope to large-scale trials with real applications. SMEs and user-driven innovation are expected to play a key role.
Until now, EU research funding in this field has been split between many different projects. The Future Internet PPP will focus the combined efforts of the European Commission, Member States and industry on a few innovation flagship projects to make Europe a leader in the research and roll-out of future innovative internet technologies needed to 'smarten up' infrastructures in areas affecting daily life like health, transport, and energy.
The Future Internet public-private partnership fits into the EU2020 strategy that sets out for a social market economy with a smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. The public-private partnership is part of the Digital Agenda for Europe's efforts to deliver economic benefits from fast and ultrafast internet and interoperable applications. The PPP aims to support an internet-enabled service economy using so-called 'cloud computing' (i.e. computer services delivered over the internet) and a wealth of real world data.
Examples of existing EU smart network research
Smart systems are already being piloted in regions and cities throughout Europe. For example, the city of Santander, together with Telefonica, is establishing "Smart Santander", a unique city-scale experimental research facility that supports internet applications and services for a smart city. More than 20,000 sensors and objects such as cameras will be connected to the internet for testing new ideas and new services for managing traffic, energy consumption and other services. This project has received €6 million from the EU and an extra €4 million from private investors.
The SmartTouch project in Finland is the EU's largest project on testing Near Field Communication (NFC) technology, a wireless communication technology which enables data to be exchanged between devices over about a 10 centimeter distance. The project involved partners from different fields: technology and service producers, researchers and organizations setting up first pilots. Two years after the start of the project, the basis of NFC-enabled services has been laid. In addition to the usual payment and ticketing services, SmartTouch partners have also tackled access control, infotainment and entertainment services.
ICiNG, the Innovative Cities of the Next Generation, creates an integrating city that remains sensitive to the needs of its citizens to continuously improve their quality of life. The ICiNG city has a network of environmental sensors and points of interaction for the mobile devices of its citizens which leads to a reduction in response time of the public services.
The Commission wants governments and industry to work together so that European research focuses further on key internet technologies and their fast application to daily life. The Commission, as shown in the examples, is already funding research that is making the internet itself smarter, with €650 million invested in nearly 100 European projects under its ICT research programme for 2007-2013.