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Call: Federated European infrastructure for genomics data

Programme
Acronym DIGITAL
Type of Fund Direct Management
Description of programme
"Digital Europe"

The general objectives of the Digital Europe Programme shall be to support and accelerate the digital transformation of the European economy, industry and society, to bring its benefits to citizens, public administrations and businesses across the Union, and to improve the competitiveness of Europe in the global digital economy while contributing to bridging the digital divide across the Union and reinforcing the Union’s strategic autonomy, through holistic, cross-sectoral and cross-border support and a stronger Union contribution.

The Programme shall be implemented in close coordination with other Union programmes as applicable, and shall aim:

  1. to strengthen and promote Europe’s capacities in key digital technology areas through large-scale deployment;
  2. in the private sector and in areas of public interest, to widen the diffusion and uptake of Europe’s key digital technologies, promoting the digital transformation and access to digital technologies.

It will reinforce EU critical digital capacities by focusing on the key areas of artificial intelligence (AI), cybersecurity, advanced computing, data infrastructure, governance and processing, the deployment of these technologies and their best use for critical sectors like energy, climate change and environment, manufacturing, agriculture and health. Thus, the Programme shall have five interrelated specific objectives:

  1. Specific Objective 1 – High Performance Computing
  2. Specific Objective 2 – Artificial Intelligence
  3. Specific Objective 3 – Cybersecurity and Trust
  4. Specific Objective 4 – Advanced Digital Skills
  5. Specific Objective 5 Deployment and Best Use of Digital Capacity and Interoperability.

The Digital Europe Programme is strategic in supporting the digital transformation of the EU industrial ecosystems targeting upskilling to provide a workforce for these advanced digital technologies. It supports industry, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and public administration in their digital transformation with a reinforced network of European Digital Innovation Hubs (EDIH). The Programme will accelerate the economic recovery and drive the digital transformation of Europe.

Specific Objective 1- High Performance Computing

The financial contribution from the Union under Specific Objective 1 – High Performance Computing shall pursue the following operational objectives:

  1. deploy, coordinate at Union level and operate an integrated demand-oriented and application-driven world-class exascale supercomputing and data infrastructure that shall be easily accessible to public and private users, in particular SMEs, irrespective of the Member State in which they are located, and easily accessible for research purposes, in accordance with Regulation (EU) 2018/1488;
  2. deploy ready to use operational technology resulting from research and innovation in order to build an integrated Union HPC ecosystem, covering various aspects in the scientific and industrial value chain segments, including hardware, software, applications, services, interconnections and digital skills, with a high level of security and data protection;
  3. deploy and operate post-exascale infrastructure, including integration with quantum computing technologies and research infrastructures for computing science and encourage the development within the Union of the hardware and software necessary for such deployment.

Specific Objective 2 – Artificial Intelligence

The financial contribution from the Union under Specific Objective 2 – Artificial Intelligence shall pursue the following operational objectives:

  1. build up and strengthen core AI capacities and knowledge in the Union, including building up and strengthening quality data resources and corresponding exchange mechanisms, and libraries of algorithms, while guaranteeing a human-centric and inclusive approach that respects Union values;
  2. make the capacities referred to in point (a) accessible to businesses, especially SMEs and start-ups, as well as civil society, not-for-profit organisations, research institutions, universities and public administrations, in order to maximise their benefit to the European society and economy;
  3. reinforce and network AI testing and experimentation facilities in Member States;
  4. develop and reinforce commercial application and production systems in order to facilitate the integration of technologies in value chains and the development of innovative business models and to shorten the time required to pass from innovation to commercial exploitation and foster the uptake of AI-based solutions in areas of public interest and in society.

Specific Objective 3 – Cybersecurity and Trust

The financial contribution from the Union under Specific Objective 3 – Cybersecurity and Trust shall pursue the following operational objectives:

  1. support the building-up and procurement of advanced cybersecurity equipment, tools and data infrastructures, together with Member States, in order to achieve a high common level of cybersecurity at European level, in full compliance with data protection legislation and fundamental rights, while ensuring the strategic autonomy of the Union;
  2. support the building-up and best use of European knowledge, capacity and skills related to cybersecurity and the sharing and mainstreaming of best practices;
  3. ensure a wide deployment of effective state-of-the-art cybersecurity solutions across the European economy, paying special attention to public authorities and SMEs;
  4. reinforce capabilities within Member States and private sector to help them comply with Directive (EU) 2016/1148 of the European Parliament and of the Council including through measures supporting the uptake of cybersecurity best practices;
  5. improve resilience against cyberattacks, contribute towards increasing risk-awareness and knowledge of cybersecurity processes, support public and private organisations in achieving basics levels of cybersecurity, for example by deploying end-to-end encryption of data and software updates;
  6. enhance cooperation between the civil and defence spheres with regard to dual-use projects, services, competences and applications in cybersecurity, in accordance with a Regulation establishing the European Cybersecurity Industrial, Technology and Research Competence Centre and the Network of National Coordination Centres (the ‘Cybersecurity Competence Centre Regulation’).

Specific Objective 4 – Advanced Digital Skills

The financial contribution from the Union under Specific Objective 4 – Advanced Digital Skills shall support the development of advanced digital skills in areas covered by the Programme in order to contribute to increasing Europe’s talent pool, bridge the digital divide and foster greater professionalism, especially with regard to high performance and cloud computing, big data analytics, cybersecurity, distributed ledger technologies (e.g. blockchain), quantum technologies, robotics, AI, while taking gender balance into account. In order to tackle skills mismatches and to encourage specialisation in digital technologies and applications, the financial contribution shall pursue the following operational objectives:

  1. support the design and delivery of high-quality, long-term training and courses, including blended learning, for students and for the workforce;
  2. support the design and delivery of high-quality, short-term training and courses for the workforce, in particular in SMEs and in the public sector;
  3. support high-quality on-the-job training and work placements for students, including traineeships, and the workforce, in particular in SMEs and in the public sector.

Specific Objective 5 – Deployment and Best Use of Digital Capacities and Interoperability

The financial contribution from the Union under Specific Objective 5 – Deployment and Best Use of Digital Capacities and Interoperability shall pursue the following operational objectives while bridging the digital divide:

  1. support the public sector and areas of public interest, such as health and care, education, judiciary, customs, transport, mobility, energy, environment, cultural and creative sectors, including relevant businesses established within the Union, to effectively deploy and access state-of-the-art digital technologies, such as HPC, AI and cybersecurity;
  2. deploy, operate and maintain trans-European interoperable state-of-the-art digital service infrastructures across the Union, including related services, in complementarity with national and regional actions;
  3. support the integration and use of trans-European digital service infrastructures and of agreed European digital standards in the public sector and in areas of public interest to facilitate cost-efficient implementation and interoperability;
  4. facilitate the development, update and use of solutions and frameworks by public administrations, businesses and citizens, including of open-source solutions and the re-use of interoperability solutions and frameworks;
  5. offer the public sector and the Union industry, in particular SMEs, easy access to testing and piloting of digital technologies and increase the use thereof, including their cross-border use;
  6. support the uptake by the public sector and the Union industry, in particular SMEs and start-ups, of advanced digital and related technologies, including in particular HPC, AI, cybersecurity, other leading edge and future technologies, such as distributed ledger technologies (e.g. blockchain);
  7. support the design, testing, implementation, and deployment and maintenance of interoperable digital solutions, including digital government solutions, for public services at Union level which are delivered through a data-driven reusable solutions platform aiming to foster innovation and establish common frameworks in order to unleash the full potential of the public administrations’ services for citizens and businesses;
  8. ensure the continuous capacity at Union level to lead digital development, in addition to observing, analysing and adapting to fast-evolving digital trends, and share and mainstream best practices;
  9. support cooperation towards achieving a European ecosystem for trusted data sharing and digital infrastructures using, inter alia, services and applications based on distributed ledger technologies (e.g. blockchain), including support for interoperability and standardisation and by fostering the deployment of Union cross-border applications based on security and privacy by design, while complying with consumer and data protection legislation;
  10. build up and strengthen the European Digital Innovation Hubs and their network.
Link Link to Programme
Call
Federated European infrastructure for genomics data
Description of call
"Federated European infrastructure for genomics data"

Objective:

The main objective is to deploy sustainable and secure cross-border linkage of and access to a multitude of genomic and related phenotypic, clinical and other datasets across Europe based on the progress achieved in the context of the 1+ Million Genomes initiative (1+MG). Authorised data users, such as clinicians, researchers and innovators, will be able to advance our understanding of genomics for more precise and faster clinical decision-making, diagnostics, treatments and predictive medicine, and for improved public health measures that will benefit citizens, healthcare systems and the overall economy.

The technical infrastructure will be combined with sustainable governance mechanisms that will secure easy, cross-border access to key datasets in the targeted area, in line with the European data governance rules. GDPR-compliant and privacy-preserving authentication and data analysis services will be essential to ensure trust and protection of the identity of data provider and user. In addition, findability of the available data and access to the providers and services have to be addressed.

The genomic data infrastructure should be aligned with the developments under the European Health Data Space (EHDS). Appropriate collaboration/coordination mechanisms with the Joint Action TEHDAS and projects developing EHDS (or its components, e.g. electronic health records, rare disease registers and cancer images) need to be established and applied during the project lifetime.

In order to maximise the societal benefits of health data use, the genomic data infrastructure should be supported by advanced IT tools and capacities, e.g. AI, HPC, cloud, blockchain and trust solutions, as appropriate for enabling secure access to and distributed analysis of complex datasets. Moreover, support should be ensured to the creation, extension and adaptation (e.g. FAIRification) of genetic/genomic datasets.

The deployment of the infrastructure needs to be complemented and supported by communication actions with the aim of ensuring and maintaining high level of awareness, acceptance and trust in the main groups of stakeholders, notably European citizens, data holders, health professionals, researchers and public health authorities.

Scope:

This action will support the deployment of the infrastructure needed to make harmonised European genomic data resources and linked clinical, phenotypic and other information, where available and relevant, securely findable and accessible across national borders. It may also support extension or upgrade of existing datasets and creation of new ones.

The implementation of the action should follow the specifications and guidelines developed within the 1+MG initiative (e.g. as regards interoperability and architecture supporting distributed and hybrid systems, specifications on reference APIs, meta-data, data structure and quality, legal requirements etc.) and leverage the outcomes of the H2020 Coordination and Support Action ‘Beyond 1 Million Genomes’ (B1MG). It should also take into account and use the outcomes of other relevant projects.

The infrastructure is expected to provide a federated network of connected genomic databases, deploying trust mechanisms (security and privacy by design), enabling data discovery, querying and use of appropriate computing capacities for distributed data analysis and providing a minimum of core services to facilitate the operation of the federated network. The federated system will comprise nodes with datasets, a common platform offering a (meta)-data catalogue, a single entry point for data queries and output delivery, links to high performance computing capacities and data access control, secure authorisation and authentication services, and access to other relevant services. The infrastructure will provide trusted environment for processing/forwarding data queries and ensure that the agreed data governance is well implemented.

To ensure maximum data protection, the data will be in principle analysed using distributed data analysis, while fully taking into account the applicable data protection requirements and the EU’s international obligations. Data transfer across national borders and/or central storage, if and when needed, may take place on a voluntary basis in accordance with the applicable EU and national legal requirements. The system connecting harmonised locally stored data sources should provide at least the following functionalities: data discoverability, data reception/access, secure interfaces (APIs), data access management, and data processing (analysis). It should be based on FAIR principles, including common interoperability standards and mechanisms.

The action is expected, throughout its lifetime, to inform and consult the country representatives in the 1+MG initiative. It should lead to defining a sustainable business model and setting up a coordination entity that will supervise the activities, run and maintain the system and its services, ensure the necessary agreements within the project and with Member States, and monitor the implementation of such agreements. The governance structures will ensure that the rights and duties of both public and private participants are duly respected.

The action should support the coordination of the multi-country project ‘Genome of Europe’ launched in the context of the 1+MG initiative towards creation of a European network of harmonised national genomic reference cohorts representative for the European population.

It should also design and implement a comprehensive communication strategy covering all relevant stakeholders and communication channels, both at the European and national levels.

Expected Outcome:

  • Secure federated infrastructure and data governance needed to enable sustainable and secure cross-border linkage of genomic data sets in compliance with the relevant and agreed legal, ethical, quality and interoperability requirements and standards based on the progress achieved by the 1+MG initiative.
  • Platform performing distributed analysis of genetic/genomic data and any linked clinical/phenotypic information; it should be based on the principle of federated access to data sources, include a federated/multi-party authorisation and authentication system, and enable application of appropriate secure multi-party and/or high-end computing, AI and simulation techniques and resources.
  • Clear description of the roles and responsibilities related to personal data and privacy protection, for humans and computers, applicable during project lifetime and after its finalisation.
  • Business model including an uptake strategy explaining the motivation, incentives and conditions for all stakeholders at the different levels (national, European, global) to support the European genomic data infrastructure towards its sustainability, including data controllers, patients, citizens, data users, service providers (e.g. IT and biotech companies), healthcare systems and public authorities at large.
  • Sustained coordination mechanism for the European genomic data infrastructure and for the Genome of Europe multi-country project launched in the context of the 1+MG initiative.
  • Communication strategy – to be designed and implemented at the European and national level.
  • Capacity building measures necessary to ensure the establishment, sustainable operation and successful uptake of the infrastructure.
  • Financial support to the relevant stakeholders to enable extension, upgrade, creation and/or physical connection of further data sources beyond the project consortium or to implement the communication strategy and for capacity-building.
Link Link to Call
Thematic Focus Digitisation, ICT, Telecommunication, Research & Innovation, Technology Transfer & Exchange, Green Technologies & Green Deal, Community Integration, European Citizenship, Shared Services, Justice, Safety & Security, Administration & Governance, Health, Social Affairs, Sports
Funding area EU Member States
Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs)
Origin of Applicant EU Member States
Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs)
Eligible applicants Research Institution, Small and Medium Sized Enterprises, SMEs (between 10 and 249 employees), Microenterprises (fewer than 10 employees), Other, Enterprise (more than 250 employees or not defined), Public Services, University, Lobby Group / Professional Association / Trade Union, Federal State / Region / City / Municipality / Local Authority, NGO / NPO, National Government
Applicant details In order to be eligible, the applicants (beneficiaries and affiliated entities) must:
  • be legal entities (public or private bodies)
  • be established in one of the eligible countries, i.e.:
    • EU Member States (including overseas countries and territories (OCTs))

  • Natural persons are NOT eligible (with the exception of self-employed persons, i.e. sole traders, where the company does not have legal personality separate from that of the natural person).
  • International organisations are NOT eligible, unless they are International organisations of European Interest within the meaning of Article 2 of the Digital Europe Regulation (i.e. international organisations the majority of whose members are Member States or whose headquarters are in a Member State).
  • EU bodies (with the exception of the European Commission Joint Research Centre) can NOT be part of the consortium.
Project Partner Yes
Project Partner Details Proposals must be submitted by:
  • a consortium of at least 5 applicants (beneficiaries; not affiliated entities) and which complies with the following conditions:
    • minimum 5 independent entities from 5 different eligible countries
Consortium should include public and private entities such as (but not limited to): public administrations (national, regional and local level), hospitals, research institutes, biobanks, research agencies, research infrastructures, not-for-profit organisations, industry, SMEs.
Project duration min 36 months
Project duration max 48 months
Further info Proposals must be complete and contain all the requested information and all required annexes and supporting documents:
  • Application Form Part A — contains administrative information about the participants  and the summarised budget for the project (to be filled in directly online)
  • Application Form Part B — contains the technical description of the project (to be downloaded from the Portal Submission System, completed and then assembled and re-uploaded)
  • mandatory annexes and supporting documents (to be uploaded):
    • list of previous projects (key projects for the last 4 years)
    • ethics issues table
    • ecurity issues table
    • ownership control declaration
Proposals are limited to maximum 70 pages (Part B).
Type of Funding Grants
Financial details The available call budget is EUR 20,000,000. This budget might be increased by maximum 20%.

Funding rate: 50 %

Projektbudget (maximaler Zuschussbetrag): EUR 20.000.000 pro Projekt
Submission Proposals must be submitted electronically via the Funding & Tenders Portal. Paper submissions are NOT possible.

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