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Horizon 2020 at its Zenith – new opportunities until the programme end

End of October, the European Commission presented the Horizon 2020 Work Programme for the last three years, with 30 billion EUR to invest in projects. The new features include measures to support market-creating innovation, highly integrated activities called focus areas, emphasis on better dissemination of results and a focus on open access to data.
Market creating innovation is the name for a first phase European Innovation Council, grouping together measures such as the SME instrument and Fast Track to Innovation, for enterprises, with a dedicated budget of 2.7 billion EUR. The SME instrument is now fully bottom-up, i.e. no thematic constraints. For phase 2 proposal, a hearing is foreseen, if the proposals pass a first stage.

The environment, the Digital Single Market, as well as the “Security Union” are among the priorities, so-called focus areas.

There is one interesting feature, labelled “second simplification”: Lump-sum pilots.

This new feature refers to a lump sum for the entire project, either pre-defined by the EC (option 1), or calculated as a budget and accepted by the EC (option 2). The beauty of it is: All is dependent on performance, no paperwork. While these 2 options are currently only available for 2 action lines (1 for each), this may be the solution for the future – and the successor R&I programme: Partners can focus on real work and forget about timesheets, proof of payment and the Damocles sword of financial audits (with rules sometimes unilaterally interpreted!). The EC should be commended on this initiative!

Call for proposals are accessible from the Participants Portal

A list of all calls (also old ones) according to acronyms is available here

ICT Work Programme 2018-2020

All Work Programmes

The latest version of the annotated model grant agreement shows all explanations – but needs some patience: it has by now 750 pages. Maybe this was one of the reasons why Lump-Sum Pilots were created…

Any questions? Contact us!

 

How “hot” is Language Technology?

MultilingualismImage
I am always amazed about the speed of changing trends in digital technology and their impact on language technology (LT). Some years ago, Big Data were the hype. In 2016, Hyon S Chu in his blog claims the death of Big Data (or at least the death of Big Data as buzz word). Exit Big Data, enter AI. Artificial Intelligence is the latest fad that will breathe brain-like abilities into machines. According to Forbes, the 10 hot topics of AI include (amongst others): place 1: Natural Language Generation; place 2: Speech recognition; place 10: Text analytics and NLP. AI will be a game changer, with most effects on vertical sectors (that already do or do not use AI).

These developments are in stark contrast to the average perception of people. Firstly, it can be observed that the term “language technology” is not “hot”. It is not even lukewarm. Reason for it is that LT comprises many different technologies that may (or may not) ring a bell. By now, people know Google translate, therefore, LT is associated with free, simple but not too reliable machine translation. Others may realise that the GPS voice might have something to do with LT (vocal human-machine interactions) but without labelling it LT, rather speech technology or similar. Secondly, when it comes to the most powerful segment of LT, text or speech analytics, the average non-techie person (in companies but also decision-makers) are at sea: How can LT have anything to do with defence or cybersecurity? How can LT cause a quantum leap in efficiency, effectiveness and security in the banking sector? Answers to these questions are indeed “hot”.

If you are among those that wonder or among those that know but want to hear more about future trends, join me at the LT Industry Summit 2017 from 9 to 11 October in Brussels where “hot” LT solutions for defence, the financial sector, business, and media & publishing will be presented. Some tickets are still available, register now!

CEF Telecom Calls open

CEF
The Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) of the European Commission aims at promoting growth, jobs and competitiveness through targeted infrastructure investment, e.g. in transport, energy and digital services. The latter form part of the CEF Telecom package. Currently, there are open calls in the areas of eInvoicing, eTranslation, Europeana and Open Data Portal. A virtual Info Day was held on 12 September 2017, the below summary is based on the presentations of that Info Day.

How to submit a CEF proposal for Call 3 – 2017?

This info blog is based on the virtual Info Day held by INEA (Innovation & Networks Executive Agency) together with the European Commission on 12 September 2017. Deadline: 28 November 2017, 5 pm CET
Contract signature: approx. End August 2018

  1. What is different to former calls?

-Call text has a new structure as have the forms (A,B,C,D, see below in detail)
-New requirement (if you have already a CEF contract): How does your proposal differ from former ones?
-On the practical side: If you want to withdraw a proposal, or, before the deadline, change it and submit another, this is now easily possible.

  1. What makes a successful proposal?

READ: all docs, including work programme, call text in particular priorities and objectives and award criteria
REFLECT: Do you understand the broad context? Why should YOUR proposal be funded?
REMEMBER: Competitive call, use simple language and structure it according to the call.

  1. Application Forms

All proposal must be submitted via the TENtec system which will also be used during the project lifetime.

Form A: Overview info including milestones, activities, costs breakdown and admin. Info: Member State Approval: Each participant needs an approval from his/her member state/ A list is given here: https://ec.europa.eu/inea/sites/inea/files/cef_telecom-contact_points_agreement_of_applicants_2_0.pdf

Please take into consideration that this approval may take time.
Form A needs to be signed (electronically) by all partners.
The content of Form A will be part of the Grant Agreement.
Form A is embedded in the TENTec system.

Forms B to D will be uploaded WORD documents. It is useful to label them in clear text, e.g. Application Form B + name of proposal

Form B: Admin info about the financial & operational capacity (some exemptions, e.g. Ministries).

Form C: Compliance with EU law on public procurement: Links to the docs are given. If NO is ticked, then explanations must be given.

Form D: Technical info, the “heart” of the proposal: max. 30 pages. The order reflects the award criteria and addresses each part and sub-part!

Recommendations as to the content: Include 1-2 pages of business & financial plan. On the technical side, provide explanations and diagrams, IT solutions, impact of/on standards etc.  On the operational side: HOW does the proposal support the objectives of the call and addresses the award criteria? Include risks assessment and timetable.

BUDGET: Give overview of costs by activity!
Explain subcontracting details in Form A.
Give more budget details in Form D so that evaluators have a clear picture what is planned and what are the associated costs.

NOTE: Costs are eligible as of date of (the last) submission! Of course, if you start at that point, it is at your own risk as you do not know whether you will be funded.

  1. Evaluation

3 objective criteria (plus sub-criteria as laid down in the call text) for all proposals:
RELEVANCE: How relevant is the proposal for CEF and DSIS? For the Call? For other strategies at EU and national level?
QUALITY & EFFICIENCY OF IMPLEMENTATION: mature and coherent approach; capacity of consortium
IMPACT & SUSTAINABILITY: facilitate wider deployment; how realistic is its survival, development and scale-up after end of the project.

  1. CEF Contact

Questions: INEA-CEF-Telecoms-Infoday@ec.europa.eu or twitter: #CEFTelecomDay  @inea_eu

If you want to find out more about specific topics (e.g. eTranslation, Europeana) or need support in drafting a proposal contact us!

 

 

Of Blockchains and Startups

In this blog, we will tackle subjects of interest to all involved in the digital economy – and let’s face it, by now this is the majority of people, if they want it or not. With every mobile phone call, smartphone app download, on-line banking transaction, we all contribute to a thriving economy. But all develops around us, and some jargon or terminology emerges that sounds “Chinese” to us.

I came across two articles that I want to share.

The first provides an incredibly clear explanation for an incredibly complex subject: Bitcoins and Blockchains by Mohit Mamoria. While it may be an eye-opener for many, there remain still some questions to be answered: What if the entire system breaks down? And where does the original funding come from?

The second deals with an increasingly difficult segmentation of our language(s). And I do not talk about terminology in different languages, no, I merely talk about the English language. Most of us are acquainted with “Eurospeak”, the most common spoken language in Brussels between places de Luxembourg and Schumann. But new communities form new terms, often inspired by EU jargon. One case is the start-up community, often composed of youngsters that are brilliant or consider themselves as brilliant (I met both). One word they use more often than any other is “disruptive”. If you thought that this is an utterly negative word (in the original sense of “troublesome”) you are wrong. Already many years ago, research programmes of the EU called for “disruptive technology”. In the meantime, the word went through a metamorphosis, and everybody wants to be “disruptive”, which in start-up-speak equals “highly innovative, never seen before” etc. Here the most amusing article by Dan Kelsall. Enjoy!