Thursday, September 22, 2011

Getting every researcher digital: 80 billion euros investment announced

On Monday at the EGI Technical Forum, Kostas Glinos, head of the e-Infrastructure Unit at the European Commission, introduced us to the next framework funding programme, Horizon 2020. Following on from FP7 which has given us EGI-InSPIRE, EGEE, GEANT, PRACE and many other projects, Horizon 2020 will run from 2014 to 2020, and represents an increase in funding to just over 1 trillion Euros. The Research and Innovation part of the programme is expecting to dispense 80 billion Euros, up from 57 billion in FP7.

Horizon 2020 is expected to be adopted by the EC by 30 November and will be presented at the Innovation Convention in Brussels.

Likely orientations for the programme will include seamless online services for the European Research Area, innovation and industry, human capital such as training and citizen science, the global dimension and support to societal challenges using Key Enabling Technologies.

Kostas also updated us on the work of the Geant Experts Group (GEG) which has been reviewing the set up and purpose of GEANT and the NRENs. On 4 October, the group will present its report to Digital Agenda Commissioner Neelie Kroes – watch out for more news on that.

Moving towards a cloud strategy for 2012, the Commission recognises that the main issues are not technical but in areas such as interoperability, privacy, legal, governance, security and dependability. “I am glad that clouds feature so strongly in the agenda for the EGI conference,” said Kostas.

For HPC, Kostas warned that Europe has lost 10% of its HPC capabilities in the last 2 years, while Asia increased by 30% and the US by 40% - China will soon overtake Europe as a whole on the supply side. There is still some fragmentation of HPC efforts in Europe, despite the PRACE project. However, Europe still has a full value chain of HPC technologies and is strong in application software. The race to exascale computing also offers opportunities.

Open access is now enshrined in policy through Innovation Europe and the Digital Agenda – in future, it will become a condition for funding. This is just one of the challenges ahead for distributed computing infrastructures in providing e-Infrastructure as a service in order to get every researcher digital.

Users need to be more diverse, and should have access to an integrated, seamless offering. We should embrace clouds, where it makes sense to do so, and sustainability is key – the community has to develop mature business models. “It is good that these topics are on the programme at the EGI Technical Forum,” said Kostas. “The discussion one year on is more mature than in 2010’s event in Amsterdam where I handed over the signed EGI-InSPIRE grant agreement… but these challenges still exist.” It is important in the next year to develop a clear, joint vision for the future of distributed computing, supported by a fully committed community, which can be fed into Horizon 2020.

On Thursday and Friday, we are also hosting the 9th e-Infrastructure Concertation meeting, which will be discussing how to define e-Infrastructures in Horizon 2020, setting up a roadmap for data infrastructures and the next steps in Mediterranean, Africa and Latin America.

It promises to be an interesting close to our gathering in Lyon.

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