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Call 2018 for Research Proposals
Deadline: 15 Jan 2019   CALL EXPIRED

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Research Targeted in the Call

Each year, CHIST-ERA launches a call for research proposals in two new topics of emergent scientific importance. This year’s call concerns the following topics:

  1. Analog Computing for Artificial Intelligence (ACAI);

  2. Smart Distribution of Computing in Dynamic Networks (SDCDN).

In previous years, CHIST-ERA calls have targeted quantum computing, consciousness, knowledge extraction, low-power computing, intelligent user interfaces, smart communication networks, adaptive machines, distributed computing, trustworthy cyber-physical systems, human language understanding, security and privacy in the internet of things, terahertz communication, lifelong learning for intelligent systems, visual analytics, object recognition and manipulation by robots, and big data and process modelling for smart industry.

The CHIST-ERA consortium has created a common funding instrument to support international research groups that engage in long-term research in the area of ICT and ICT-based sciences. Through this instrument, funding organisations support and join the European Union’s “Future and Emerging Technologies (FET)” agenda. By coordinating their efforts, they can support more diverse research communities, who are able to tackle the most challenging and novel research topics.

Community-defined topics

A workshop was held in Helsinki on 19-21 June 2018 to identify important research challenges within the two selected topics. The workshop brought together ICST researchers from across a range of research communities and countries. The delegates identified a number of research challenges, which have formed the scope of this call. Presentations given at the workshop are available on the CHIST- ERA website (http://conference2018.chistera.eu/). Attendance at the workshop is not a prerequisite for submitting an application to this call. The evaluation criterion “Relevance to the Topic” is assessed only based on the topic descriptions below. The workshop presentations can nevertheless provide background information for preparing a proposal.

Nature of research

Submitted proposals should be of a FET-like nature and contribute to the development of an international and multidisciplinary research. The transformative research done in CHIST-ERA should explore new topics with potential for significant scientific and technical impacts in the long term.

The two topics of this year’s call are described below.

 

1st Topic: Analog Computing for Artificial Intelligence (ACAI)

Analog computing, which was initially the mainstream approach in computing, has seen its progress outpaced by the huge investments in digital computing following Moore’s law during almost five decades. However, with the end of Moore’s law, there is room again for more varied computer architectures including analog ones. These can enable fast, energy-efficient computing for specific applications and thus become attractive again. Furthermore, the field of Artificial Intelligence, which is progressing fast, addresses signals which are intrinsically analog (image, sound, speech, proprioception, etc...) and increasingly relies on neural networks which naturally lend themselves to analog computing. In this context, analog computing becomes appealing for running Artificial Intelligence applications locally on personal devices, and more generally in an energy-efficient way.

Target Outcomes

Projects should lead to technology demonstrators enabling robust operation and give due consideration to performance evaluation and experiment reproducibility. Power consumption, computational capability, efficiency, reliability and adaptability are important aspects of this research domain and should be considered where relevant. Both new algorithms and adaptation of existing algorithms to new analog technologies can be addressed. Unconventional approaches can be considered where it can be demonstrated that they can lead to better artificial intelligence either generally or for specific domains of use.

Key challenges are expected to be:

  •   Adaptability and ease of programming

  •   Energy consumption performance

  •   Performance benchmarking and demonstration of superior performance with respect to conventional approaches for specific applications in artificial intelligence

  •   The design of new, more resilient and configurable architectures

  •   Demonstration of practicality

Expected Impact

Projects are strongly encouraged to address the following objectives in order to enhance impact:

  •   Strengthened interdisciplinary research community that crosses traditional boundaries between research disciplines

  •   Shared benchmarks and datasets for objective performance assessment and comparisons

  •   Increased awareness of the possibilities offered by analog computing for artificial intelligence

  •   Availability of enhanced low-power smart devices

 

2nd Topic: Smart Distribution of Computing in Dynamic Networks (SDCDN)

The proliferation of IoT solutions is driving the development of novel computing platforms that cope with the limitations of sensor/actuation devices and mobile devices, by offloading computing complexity onto the network. As a result, new computing paradigms that support diverse applications’ needs have arisen including cloud, fog and edge computing. Increasingly hybrid approaches are being adopted to provide performance trade-offs between these distribution models according to changing network conditions and application requirements. This trend is foreseen to continue to grow especially in smart environments powered by post-5G networks. Processing will have to be delegated via novel intelligent coordination strategies over dynamic networks, including cloud, fog and edge elements. There is a need for ubiquitous, context-aware, robust solutions that dynamically orchestrate computing tasks among these models.

Target Outcomes

Projects should propose, design and/or implement demonstration technologies in user-centric application domains that highlight the benefits of dynamic computing in terms of security, reliability, trust, energy efficiency, computational capability and user perception.

Key challenges may include:

  •   Improving user experience in dynamic network scenarios and integration of user experience evaluation

  •   Development of distribution strategies which improve application performance

  •   Intelligent data storage, processing and movement

  •   Creating context aware functionality

  •   T ransparency of operation

  •   Identification of application classes which are particularly suitable for realization on such platforms

  •   Performance benchmarking

  •   Addressing potential security issues

    Expected Impact

    Projects are strongly encouraged to address the following objectives in order to enhance impact:

  •   Improved user experience and/or quality of life

  •   Better understanding of infrastructural requirements among service providers of

    communication platforms

  •   Increased awareness of capabilities and requirements of such systems among application

    designers

  •   Improved energy usage from devices or systems

  •   Reproducible, deployable technology

 

Eligibility

CHIST-ERA is a hybrid funding instrument. Proposals are submitted by international consortia with partners (research groups) from multiple countries. The call as well as the proposal evaluation and selection are international. Funding is then provided by participating funding organisations directly to the selected consortium partners.

Each partner is directed by a principal investigator (PI), who interacts with the funding organisation. One partner acts as the coordinator for the consortium and is the single point of contact with the CHIST-ERA Secretariat.

It is necessary that both the consortium is eligible for CHIST-ERA and all partners are eligible to be funded by their respective organisation. All partners have to fulfil the regulations of their respective funding organisation.

If a partner may be eligible to receive funding by multiple participating organisations, the partner must choose a single organisation for funding.

CHIST-ERA projects have a duration of either 24 or 36 months. Eligibility of the Consortium

The following criteria must be met:

1. The consortium is international:
 It must have a minimum of three partners requesting funding to organisations in the call

from at least three distinct countries. 2. The consortium is balanced:

 At most 60% of the total funding may be requested by partners from one country.
The consortium needs to be focused, that is, the proposed research must have a clearly defined goal.

Consortia should therefore normally contain between three and six partners.

Research groups who are not eligible to receive funding from any organisation participating in the concerned topic may be part of a consortium if they are able to secure their own funding. Third-party funding is not considered for the criteria above. The consortium coordinator must be supported by a funding organisation participating in the topic.

Eligibility of Partners

The eligibility criteria for partners are specific to the chosen funding organisation. Be aware that some funding organisations:

  •   require that eligibility of partners is checked with them prior to applying;

  •   request additional national forms to be submitted prior or alongside the CHIST-ERA Call;

  •   only fund non-commercial research.

    The table on the next page provides an overview of each organisation’s eligibility rules. Further details, including those of the Funding Organisations’ contact points, can be found in the annex.

    In order not to jeopardize the whole consortium, partners should avoid that a priori doubts exist about the eligibility of their institution (university, academic institutions, industry), the eligibility of their PI (permanent staff, position secured for the duration of the project, etc.), and their eligible costs.

2 Stages Application Procedure Ensure the Proposal is Valid

  •   The research is clearly in line with one of the two topics of the call.

  •   The consortium meets eligibility criteria.

  •   Each partner meets eligibility criteria.

It is the responsibility of each partner to ensure their eligibility. Refer to the overview table on the previous page and the detailed regulations of each organisation in the annex for partner-specific conditions.

Please make sure that all partners who must contact their funding organisation prior to submission of their proposal have done so.

Proposal Submission: 2 stages

The call follows a two-stage submission and evaluation procedure. First, a pre-proposal (see pre-proposal template) is submitted. If the pre-proposal is selected after evaluation by an international Evaluation Panel set up specifically for each Call topic, the consortium is invited to submit a full proposal (see full proposal template).

The projects presented in the full proposal and in the pre-proposal must be consistent. Any change to the plans described in the pre-proposal should be explained and justified. If the changes involve a change in consortium composition, it is strongly advised to contact the national contact points in the concerned countries as well as the CHIST-ERA Secretariat prior to submission to check for any eligibility issue.

At both stages of the application, the coordinator prepares a joint proposal (pre-proposal or full proposal) for the whole consortium, using the template available on the CHIST-ERA website (http://www.chistera.eu/). The form is submitted via the electronic submission system on the website.

In addition, a Partner Search Tool is provided at http://www.chistera.eu.

We recommend that a preliminary proposal be submitted several days before the deadline to guarantee against unforeseen issues. Proposals that have already been submitted can be modified until the deadline.

Partners whose funding organisation requires submitting forms alongside the joint proposal submission must do so at this point, see the overview table and the national annexes.

The coordinator and all partners must be in a position to diligently answer e-mail queries after the submission. If a partner’s PI is not available, the PI must be represented by a collaborator from the same organisation.

 

Evaluation and Selection of Proposals

Proposals are assessed by an evaluation panel of international experts. There is one panel for each topic of the Call.

The proposals are evaluated and ranked within each topic according to the following criteria:

  1. Relevance to the Topic: Relevance of the project with respect to the topic description. (This criterion applies to the pre-proposal stage only)

  2. S/T Quality: Scientific and/or technological excellence:

    •   Soundness of the concept, quality and clarity of the objectives;

    •   Originality and novelty, and potential for non-incremental progress beyond the state-of-

      the-art;

    •   Quality and suitability of the methodology.

  3. Implementation: Quality and efficiency of the implementation and management:

    •   Quality and relevant experience of individual participants;

    •   Quality and added value of the consortium (interdisciplinarity, complementarity, coherence

      and balance of involvement, etc.);

    •   Appropriateness of the management structure and procedures;

    •   Identification of risks, plausibility and flexibility of the work plan;

    •   Appropriateness of allocation and justification of requested resources (staff, equipment...).

  4. Impact: Potential impact through the development, dissemination and use of project results:

    •   Contribution, at the European and/or international level, to the expected impacts;

    •   Scientific and societal importance;

    •   Appropriateness of measures for the dissemination and communication to different target audiences, exploitation of project results, and management of intellectual property.

On the basis of the ranking established by the evaluation panel, the top ranked pre-proposals, representing a cumulated requested funding of about three times the total available budget for the call, are selected by a board representing the call’s funding organisations (Call Steering Committee) and invited to submit a full proposal.

Full proposals are assessed by the evaluation panel with the help of external reviewers. On the basis of the ranking and of available funding, the Call Steering Committee will prepare a list of projects recommended for funding.

At each stage, the assessment by the evaluation panel of each proposal is detailed in a consensus report, which is made available to applicants.

 

Management of Projects Setting up the Consortium

If the full proposal is recommended for funding, each partner may need to submit an administrative application to the chosen funding organisation to apply for their CHIST-ERA funding (grant or contract). In rare cases, specific partners in a consortium may be requested to apply for their funding from another funding organisation than the one they had chosen initially. The subsequent negotiation phase between the partner and the funding organisations follows the established procedures and, if successful, results in a grant agreement between the two parties.

All partners of a consortium should request their funding to start at approximately the same date, to ensure that the collaborative research can be conducted as planned.

The administrative and financial management of funding is overseen by the respective funding organisations, according to their rules and guidelines.

At the latest three months after the start of a project, a consortium agreement has to be signed by all partners and sent to the CHIST-ERA Secretariat. Some funding organisations require that the consortium agreement is signed before the grant agreement can be finalised.

Reporting and Publications

Consortia must present the status of their project at each yearly event organised by CHIST-ERA. The related costs are eligible.

Furthermore, the coordinators of funded projects have to submit a scientific report on each 12-month period of the project. The reports must be sent to the CHIST-ERA Secretariat within two months after the end of each period.

Some funding organisations require separate reports for individual project partners. This is specified in their grant agreements.

Any publications resulting from CHIST-ERA projects must acknowledge CHIST-ERA, and an electronic copy must be sent to the CHIST-ERA Secretariat. Granting open access to publication and data is encouraged (related costs are eligible in the framework of the respective funding organisation regulations).



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