This document sets out the guidelines for participation in the first open call for proposals of the NGI Explorers Program – NGI Explorers – a European initiative funded under the Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Framework (H2020), Grant Agreement number: 825183, Call identifier: H2020-ICT-31-2018.
In addition to these guidelines, applicants are invited to get acquainted with the NGI Explorers website  and the Sub-Grantee Funding Agreement template. The Sub-Grantee Funding Agreement template will be made available prior to the closure of the 1s t Open Call.
Within this document, unless stated otherwise, meaning for the following terms shall be interpreted as presented below:
◼ EU Explorer/Explorer: EU Researchers/Innovators from hi-tech startups, SMEs, mid-caps,
research centres or academia that will apply and be selected to participate in the NGI Explorers Program.
◼ US Exchange Node/US Node: US organizations developing activities in the domain of Next Generation Internet and hosting EU Explorers.
◼ NGI Explorers Consortium: team of 3 partners – F6S Network Ltd (UK), Zabala Innovation Consulting S.A (ES) and Interinnov SAS (FR)– managing the NGI Explorers Program.
◼ NGI Explorers Program Coordinator: F6S Network Ltd (UK) will act as coordinator of the Program.
◼ Mentor: a member from the NGI Explorers Project Consortium appointed to assist the EU Explorer before, during and after their Expedition.
◼ Expedition Masterplan: EU Explorer’s Project that will be developed during the Expedition containing the technical description, milestones and KPIs.
1.1. THE NGI INITIATIVE – NEXT GENERATION INTERNET
The Next Generation Internet (NGI)  is the new flagship initiative by the European Commission – the mirroring initiative to the US Tomorrow’s Internet – that aims to shape the future of the Internet.
NGI is not just about the evolution of communication networks like 5G, but a broad spectrum of emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, Internet of Things, interactive technologies and more, while contributing to making the future internet more value-centric, human and inclusive Internet for all. A list of technological trends that will thoroughly reshape the Internet over the next 10-15 years.
1.2. NGI EXPLORERS
THE NGI EXPLORERS PROGRAM
NGI Explorers is a program to launch Europe's best Internet talent into Expeditions to the US. It provides the means that will support EU Explorers – top researchers and innovators – to gain the skills, build the networks and find the sustainability necessary to catalyze the impact of their disruptive ideas, NGI concepts or product-oriented research activities. The Program will invest US$ 1+M to spur 40+ top-notch European Explorers over a 3-year period (January 2019 – December 2021).
The Program brings the opportunity to connect with an unrivalled environment of excellence, and a flourishing community of Explorers with multiple backgrounds and the potential to become drivers of change for the Next Generation of Internet, and the opportunity to create synergies with other like-minded participants to share experiences, collaborate and even create new partnerships.
◼ ArtificialIntelligence ◼ Blockchain
◼ Cloud/Edge Computing
◼ Interactive Technology1
◼ Future Hyper-Connectivity2
◼ Human-centric Internet3
1 Interactive technologies such as Augmented (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) are set to transform the ways in which people communicate, interact and share information on the internet and beyond. Users must be empowered to access, process and deliver information in more natural, efficient and less intrusive ways, providing enhanced and personalized experiences.
2 Future social networks, media and platforms will become the way our societies operate for communication, exchange, business, creation, learning and knowledge acquisition. The challenge is to mobilise a positive vision as to the role that Social Media will increasingly play in all these areas, and to overcome today's critical issues about trust and governance through democratic reputation mechanisms, and user experience.
3 Topics will include Privacy and trust enhancing technologies; Decentralized data governance; Discovery and identification technologies; Strengthening internet trustworthiness with electronic identities; Service and data portability; and Open Internet architecture renovation.
THE US NODE NETWORK
FIGURE 1. NGI FOCUS AREAS
To make sure EU Explorers can achieve an outstanding level of excellence, it is of extreme relevance to engage with partnering US organizations willing to host them, providing integration and support to their endeavors, so-called US Exchange Nodes, or US Nodes.
The updated list of US Nodes participating in the 1s t Open Call can be found at the NGI Explorers website .
1.3. THE NGI EXPLORERS CONSORTIUM
The NGI Explorers Consortium is run by a team of 3 partners:
F6S Network Ltd
F6S Network Limited [www.f6s.com] is a European SME that is the largest social
network for startups in the world. With over 3,000 000 profiles for the startup
community and more than 1,100,000 tech-startups, it currently supports the
majority of the startup ecosystem through deal flow/applications, jobs listings, free
services, communication forms, technology transfer infrastructure and other areas. As a leading platform for application management for commercial, corporate, government, university and other accelerator programs, F6S helps more than 17,000 such initiatives worldwide. Every year F6S processes more than 700,000 applications and delivers about EUR 2 billion to startups/SMEs.
Where innovation ventures to the edge of its limits - interinnov [w ww.interinnov.eu] is a tech-strategic company to skyrocket the impact of cutting-edge Research and Innovation. Our mission is to catalyze the outstanding potential of Europe’s powerhouse in Science and Technology, creating strong synergies, building traction and bridging the gap to the global market. Since 2009, interinnov is a partner with experience in 16 FP7/H2020 projects with a prominent role in initiatives related to Information and Communication Technologies (ICT). All these activities are supported by a global network of partners in Europe, the Americas, Asia and Africa.
Zabala Innovation Consulting S.A
ZABALA [ www.zabala.eu] is a Spanish SME with +150 employees and a
client portfolio of +600 organizations (including SMEs, large companies,
RTD centres, universities and public entities). ZABALA is an expert on cascade funding management, with prior experience in several EU projects (Finodex FIWARE accelerator, the European Data Incubator – EDI, Innovation Radar – IRSUS, and Blockchers), and innovation service provision for SMEs and startups within the European ecosystem.
1.4. NGI EXPLORERS – GENERAL REQUIREMENTS
Applicants must be employees of a European “legal entity” (limited to: startups, SMEs, mid-caps, research centres or academia) under the European Commission regulations.
The Program aims to support applications from EU Explorers representing one of the following profiles:
Researchers (holding a Master’s degree or higher) employed in third level education institutes, research infrastructures, non-profit organizations and charitable (scientific) foundations and public research centres.
Innovators (Internet technologists) representing hi-tech startups, micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), mid-caps working on Internet or and other related technologies.
1.5. NGI EXPLORERS – METHODOLOGY
The Program will run a total of 3 rounds throughout its lifetime. Each round will have 2 different stages:
◼ Open Call: period in which EU candidates will submit their proposals for collaboration. From
the pool of candidates that will be evaluated, only 10-15 EU Explorers will be selected based on the excellence and impact of their proposals. Once appointed, the Program will match EU Explorers with the US Exchange Nodes according to the preferences of both sides, and a 3-way contract (EU Explorers, their employing organizations and the US Exchange Node) will be signed.
◼ Expedition: the period of time the EU Explorer will spend in the US Exchange Node. Applicants will be able to choose between 2 different lengths according to the scope of their proposals: 3 or 6 months.
1.6. NGI EXPLORERS – PARTICIPATION OPTIONS
Applicants can participate in the program through 3 different approaches:
◼ Option 2: Challenge.
Applicants may submit a proposal around their ideas, products and services, as long as they fall under one or several Focus Areas (see section 1.1) . The NGI Explorers Consortium will identify and match the best candidates with the US Nodes, taking into consideration common priorities and evaluation outcomes.
Prior to the launch of the 1s t Open Call, US Nodes have defined several Challenges addressing specific Focus Areas (see section 1.1). Applicants may submit a proposal to a Challenge defined by a US Node, taking into consideration their specific priorities for collaboration. The updated list of available Challenges issued by the US Nodes can be found at the NGI Explorers website .
Applicants may submit a proposal to advance their ideas, products and/or services along with a specific US partnering organization, as long as they fall under one or several Focus Areas (see section 1.1). This participation option will allow for a new ad hoc collaboration outside of the NGI Explorers US Node network.
The period of the 1s t Open Call for EU Explorers will extend from May 2019 to the end of November 2019.
May 2 019 – Jul 2019
◼ The 1s t Open Call for proposals opens on F6S platform  on May 6th 2019. ◼ Deadline for submission via FS6 Platform is July 31st 2019 at 12:00 CEST.
Aug 2019 – Sep 2019
◼ The evaluation process will run from August 1st 2019 to the end of S eptember 2019. ◼ ResultswillbecommunicatedtoapplicantsduringthefirstweekofOctober2019.
The contracting process and signature of the Sub-grantee Funding Agreement will take place throughout October 2019.
Oct 2019 – Nov 2019
4-day intensive bootcamp with all selected Explorers to foster community, exchange and collaboration, enable joint discussions on the NGI vision and ease explorers into the US cultural and administrative context.
2.2. EXPEDITION #1
The period for US Expeditions will start on January 2020 and will finish at the end of July 2020.
Jan 2020 – Jun 2020
Selected Explorers will enjoy a 3 or 6-month deep dive into the United States to accelerate their projects and cultivate an American mindset. This will be a unique opportunity to strengthen and articulate their ideas while building traction among a whole new network of partners and customers. Participants will be hosted by US Nodes – partnering US organizations – committed to the NGI Vision, integrating the Explorers in their teams and supporting them in their endeavors.
Regarding Expedition timeline:
◼ For 3-month expeditions, there will be a flexible time window to start the experience.
Explorers must not start beyond the end of March 2020. ◼ For 6-month expeditions, start and end dates are fixed.
NGI EXPLORERS OSCARS
At the end of the Round #1, an NGI Oscars event will take place to gather and award Explorers and hosting US Nodes.
Note: dates are initial estimates and might be subject to slight variations if agreed by the NGI Explorers Consortium for the benefit of the sub-grantees.