The European Union acknowledges the importance of focused research and testing on the Internet of Things to support the development and take-up of the technology. For the period 2014-2021 under Horizon 2020, the European research and innovation programme, the EU will invest almost EUR 500 million in Internet of Things-related research, innovation and deployment.

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EU invests in the development of advanced IoT platforms

The future design of the Internet of Things applications greatly depends on the development of advanced platform architectures for smart objects, embedded intelligence and smart networks. Most of today's IoT systems are mainly focused on sensors, whereas distributed data analytics, actuation, security by design, and adaptive behaviour will be the key features in the future. Novel interfaces combined with artificial intelligence and flexible self-organising platforms are promising areas.

In order to support IoT research and innovation (R&I), Europe promotes the idea of open and easy accessible IoT platforms. In 2016 the 'IoT European Platform Initiative (IoT-EPI)’ was launched. At the core of IoT-EPI are seven research and innovation IoT projects funded by the Horizon 2020 programme:

These projects develop and validate innovative platform technologies and foster technology adoption through community- and business-building while creating at the same time a new vibrant IoT ecosystem.

An open, vibrant and innovative ecosystem

Another important element for the IoT R&I is the existence of an open, vibrant and innovative Internet of Things ecosystem which brings together the research community with the private sector companies and the end-users. The European Commission has been working intensively on developing the right European IoT ecosystem together with key stakeholders. In March 2015 the Alliance for Internet of Things Innovation (AIOTI) was established with support from the European Commission to foster the creation of an innovative and industry-driven European Internet of Things ecosystem. The AIOTI builds on the work of the IoT European Research Cluster (IERC), grouping together the IoT projects funded by the 7th European research framework programme (FP7), as well as national IoT initiatives and have links with all the EU funded projects.

The European Union also participates in international (global) research and policy discussions in order to advance the technology. International calls for joint proposals are foreseen under the Horizon 2020 programme, in order to further promote global R&I cooperation in the field.

Learn more about Europe's current research priorities on Internet of Things. On Community Research and Development Informative Service (CORDIS) you can find all IoT related completed and ongoing EU funded projects.

IoT Large Scale Pilots (LSPs) for Testing and Deployment

Under the Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation programme the European Commission is currently co-funding five Internet of Things (IoT) Large-Scale Pilots. The IoT European Large-Scale Pilots, with an EU financial contribution of €100 million, started in January 2017 and cover the following areas:

  • Smart living environments for ageing well (ACTIVAGE)
  • Smart Farming and Food Security (IoF2020)
  • Wearables for smart ecosystems (MONICA)
  • Reference zones in EU cities (SYNCRHONICITY)
  • Autonomous vehicles in a connected environment (AUTOPILOT)

The coordination of these projects is supported by two additional projects, U4IoT and CREATE-IoT.

A further set of Large Scale Pilots in areas such as Energy, Agriculture and Health and Care will be launched during 2019.

Through the selected IoT Large-Scale pilots the EU seeks to support the testing and experimentation of new IoT related technologies. These pilots are expected to accelerate the standards setting across different business sectors boosting further the IoT technology. Privacy and security, business models, usability as well as other legal and societal challenges are also important factors which EU's Large-Scale Pilots are trying to tackle.

Read the European Large-Scale Pilots Programme e-book (pdf) for more details.

IoT Security and Privacy

Adequate security and privacy is key to ensure trust and wide uptake of IoT solutions. The European Commission has therefore launched a specific cluster of R&D projects to investigate new solutions for security and privacy by design and by default in Internet of Things. The European Commission has therefore launched in 2018 a further set of eight IoT security and privacy research projects with an EU budget of EUR 37 million.

These projects are:

  • Smart End-to-end Massive IoT Interoperability, Connectivity and Security (SEMIoTICS)
  • Trustworthy and Smart Actuation in IoT systems (ENACT)
  • Secure and Safe Internet of Things (SerIoT)
  • Secure Open Federation for Internet Everywhere (SOFIE)
  • Predictive Security for IoT Platforms and Networks of Smart Objects (SecureIoT)
  • IoTCrawler
  • Cognitive Heterogeneous Architecture for Industrial IoT (CHARIOT)

The projects will explore how to enhance overall security and deploy new approaches for data privacy such as Distributed Ledger Technology/Blockchains.

Next EU Research and Innovation Framework Programme for 2021-2027 (Horizon Europe)

The European Commission has published an ambitious proposal for the follow-up to Horizon 2020.

Internet of Things will mainly be supported under the heading of Next Generation Internet. Consult the Horizon Europe Specific Programme proposal (page 35) for further details.