Thomas Skordas, Acting Director of the renamed "Digital Excellence & Science infrastructure" Directorate, summarises our achievements so far in 2016 and discuss our next steps.

"Our activities are inherently forward-looking and are crucial to the European Digital Single Market. Together, we can face tomorrow's challenges and contribute to making Europe the best place for research and innovation." -Thomas Skordas

The first part of 2016 has known a few key milestones for the "Directorate Excellence in Science" of DG CONNECT. In a few months, we have seen the adoption of the European Cloud Initiative, the launch of four consultations for preparing the Work Programmes 2018-2020 (FET Proactive, FET Flagships, e-infrastructures and Mathematics) and their subsequent analysis, and the announcement of a future Quantum Technology FET Flagship. Great challenges ahead for us and for you!

As 1st of July 2016, a new structure of the DG CONNECT took effect, it is structured to respond to the main challenges of realising the Digital Single Market (DSM).

In concrete terms, a new unit "High Performance Computing & Quantum Technology" has been set up to support research into exascale computing technologies and HPC in general, as part of the implementation of the European Cloud Initiative. The unit will also be in charge of the Quantum Technology Flagship, benefiting from the experience of the FET flagships unit to drive its preparatory phase, and from an independent High Level Steering Committee.

The e-infrastructures unit has been renamed "eInfrastructure & Science Cloud" to refocus its activities on the European Cloud Initiative with emphasis on its key components Data Infrastructure and Open Science. Ensuring Open access to scientific information remains one of our priorities with the pilot action on open access to research data extended and mainstreamed throughout Horizon 2020.

The FET unit will continue implementing the FET scheme, in collaboration with the our colleagues at the Research Executive Agency dealing more specifically with the FET Open part.

And the Flagships unit will continue supporting the activities of the two ongoing Flagships, Graphene and the Human Brain Project, and prepare for other possible Flagships (as mentioned above).

Collaboration and coherence will be essential in the Directorate as all our activities are connected to ensure Digital excellence and Science Infrastructure.

Our next meeting point will be the ICT Proposers Day that will take place in Bratislava on 26-27 September 2016. The ICT Proposers day is a unique networking opportunity to build partnerships and proposals targeting the ICT calls of 2017. A dedicated session to eInfrastructure topic calls will give an opportunity to potential participants to get an overview of the call topics and to discuss potential co-design opportunities. A session on FET Open will tackle high-risk and forward-looking research stimulating innovation around new ideas towards radically new future technologies.

Finally, I would like to remind you of the permanent exchange tool we have set up to work closer to you by better meeting your needs and expectations: the Digital4Science platform. The platform has proven a success and we hope we can continue using it to stimulate conversations on scientific excellence and its activities around the Science Cloud, Digital Infrastructures, High Performance Computing, Future & Emerging Technologies and the FET flagships.