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A new year, a new decade! This is the dashing occasion for the usual-yet-fascinating expectations of what 2020 has in store. In this article, we will put a magnifying glass on the digital trends that are relentlessly unwinding in front of us this year, and with a specific focus on European innovation funding related content.

This is a look ahead, certainly not a crystal ball (editor’s note: article first published 10 January)!

Artificial Intelligence

This will not come as a shock: AI will remain the main “buzzword” in 2020. Machine Learning, graph, Edge AI, Explainable AI, AI PaaS, trustworthy AI… AI is the 2-letter acronym as attractive in innovation funding as “lunch break” is in a PhD student annual convention.

Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has pledged to deliver a strategy on Artificial Intelligence and Ethics in the first 100 days of the new Commission. However, beyond the policies, the European AI coordinated action plan has one simple aim: reach 20B€ of investment per year on AI in the EU. Furthermore, if possible, let’s try to do it without competing within Europe, but with the rest of the world!

AI4EU is up and running! This Ai-on-demand platform will be the cornerstone of all innovation funding at European level on AI. To expand it, extension and consolidation projects will be called upon with a deadline in April. If you are an AI techno provider, do try to join these projects! If you are an AI techno user, watch for the calls for testing and validation of AI infrastructure!

European Network of Artificial Intelligence

Just what value would these nice AI components have if they are not used? This is where the Digital Transformation of our economy will have a boost this year with funding in 3 focused areas: rural areas, hospitals and Law Enforcement.

All this, under the single umbrella of “Trustworthy AI” with the ethical guidelines, now published, to be tested in a real life environment.

Relevant topics:

Quantum

In 2019, Google announced its quantum supremacy claiming its quantum computer can solve in 200 seconds a problem that would take 10,000 years with a normal computer. Less than 24 hours later, IBM expressed its scepticism saying the calculation would have taken 2,5 years. Whatever side of the argument you wish to take, quantum is in the ramp-up phase for innovation investment in 2020.

The European Commission has launched a large-scale Flagship project on Quantum technologies, QT.EU. It will channel and structure funding from fundamental research to innovation for quantum in the coming years. It’s hard to end the list of possible applications for research fields in quantum (quantum computing, quantum infrastructure, quantum cryptography, advanced mathematics for quantum…), but your best source of funding and networking will be QT.eu.

With the first quantum communication infrastructure being deployed, quantum should follow in 2020.

Relevant topics:

Cybersecurity

The EU’s cybersecurity act was adopted in 2019 and with its implementation, a very strong focus on certification, including for 5G. Stay tuned for the long-expected cybersecurity toolbox that will come out at the beginning of 2020!

Will you face a cyber-threat in 2020? Without a doubt: YES! From a risk management standpoint, mitigation of any threat involves 3 phases: prevention, being prepared and recovery. The Commission will fund innovation in cyber-risk in 3 phases in 2020 with the Digital Security call covering innovation on privacy, cyber-attacks preparedness, early warnings and recovery toolboxes.

In addition,  stay tuned with the activities of the 4 cybersecurity competence centre networks, ECHO, CONCORDIA, SPARTA and CyberSec4All. Luxembourg cybersecurity actors are represented in 3 of 4 of these projects. The University of Luxembourg through its Interdisciplinary Centre for Security, Reliability and Trust (SnT), is participating in CyberSec4All, Concordia and in Sparta, as is Security Made in Luxembourg.  In 2020, the 4 pilots will reach their cruising altitudes and continue to structure the European Cybersecurity ecosystems.

Horizon 2020 cybersecurtiy pilot projects

Relevant topics:

5G

In 2019, 5G attracted headlines, especially regarding safety and security. The European response has been staggeringly sundry. Nevertheless, 5G is rapidly leaving the club of emerging technologies and joining the club of deployment.

The 5G for Europe Action Plan is entering its last year. Its aim is “making 5G a reality for all citizens and businesses by the end of 2020”. Since 2016, it supported the development of 5G core technologies and the first 5G tests.

5G for Europe Action Plan

In 2020, the national programmes are taking the most expected upbeat direction, as the 5G strategy for Luxembourg. 5G is distinctively confirming it is a key technology for the digital transformation of our economy and society. Keep an eye on the further developments of the cross-border testbed for autonomous driving extending between Luxembourg, Germany and France and look for the future 5G services which will be deployed there!

Meanwhile, in 2020, the Commission will fund the last round of projects to develop, test and deploy applications for 5G infrastructure. The Commission cleverly calls it “Third Party Services”.

On top of this, now that 5G is entering its deployment phase, to remain competitive, the EU must obviously look beyond 5G. Without calling it already 6G, the second waves of funding for shrewdly-named “beyond 5G” will be launched in 2020. A new digital trend is materialising right before your own eyes.

Relevant topics:

 

Is that all?

Well, no! But an entire review of digital trends is like reviewing industrial policies. So let’s take a step back and briefly enumerate what are the other hot topics in 2020:

  • Horizon Europe: it’s in the ramp-up phase, crumbling in its wake all the sectorial walls we built around ourselves in the last 7 years. No need to say that the number of people eagerly waiting for the first drafts is growing every day. Remember this: Cluster 4!
  • Digital Europe Programme: here’s a new acronym digital experts will have to live within the coming years. Deployment and co-funding with Member States for advanced digital technologies. Now the cherry on the cake: the Digital Innovation Hubs!
  • Digital autonomy will be the common theme of European policy development.
  • Online disinformation, facial recognition, data protection, digital services, will be attractive buzzwords in the coming months.
  • Product Liability Directive. Maybe you never heard about this European Directive? Yet, it lays down one of the fundamental EU citizens’ right: any defective product in the Single Market is the responsibility of its producer (extremely roughly summarised). You will hear about it in 2020 because this 1985 directive will need to address the emergence of AI. Ask yourself: if an AI-driven robot damages something, who is liable?
  • Beware of greenwashing!

 

Conclusion (if there is one to make)

2020 will be the dashing transition year for many digital policies and technologies: from Horizon 2020 to Horizon Europe, from disruptive technologies to deployment for 5G, from launch to the running of the Digital European Programme.

Your European R&D and Innovation support team in Luxinnovation will be buzzing and running all year to support you in the new opportunities which lay ahead.

2020 will provide a thrilling ride for a new decade of exciting things to come.

 

Luxinnovation is the National Contact Point for Horizon 2020, the European framework programme for research and innovation. Building on our decade-long experience of EU funding programmes, we are able to respond to questions on where to get up-to-date information on programmes and calls for project proposals, what programmes are the most suitable for you or where and how to find European partners.

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