SNS Call 1 – Frequently Asked Questions
The First Call of the Smart Networks and Services Joint Undertaking (SNS JU) opened on the 18th of January 2022 and closed on the 26th of April 2022.
To help proponents of the first call of the SNS JU, questions that have been raised by proponents or national NCP’s are addressed below. This list will be updated as new questions emerge. For the second call, please also refers to the FAQ Second Call.
CALL CONDITIONS AND PARTICIPATION
The Work Programme published on the SNS web site includes an Appendix, page 41, which specifies the call conditions, which notably states that:
“For RIA’s under Streams A and B, the award criteria table is complemented with a sub criterion in the impact section reflecting the relevance for proposals to contribute to the overall IKOP objectives of the call. (Text in italic in the below table). Relevant proposals are expected to credibly contribute to the overall 5% IKOP objectives .“
The footnote reads  NB: For these Streams the target IKOP corresponds to participation of Member other than the Union or their affiliated entities at an average level of about 33%.”
This has to be understood as follows: the total budget for the call, € 240 million, should generate a level of funding of eligible costs not covered by the cumulative project reimbursed budgets of 5%, i.e. € 12 million. Only profit making companies being member of the 6G Infrastructure Association (6G-IA) contribute to IKOP generation. The 33% average participation of such members is only indicative and does not refer to 33% of one particular type of entity (e.g. private-for Profit Company). It is based on statistical analysis of previous initiatives like the 5G-PPP and takes into account that some topics of this call are restricted to 6G-IA members, i.e. Stream C, Stream D, and the “flagship project” of Stream B, and this actions will already include 100% of 6G-IA in the consortium with a potential of larger IKOP generation. Note that universities do not contribute to the IKOP, but receive 100% of their costs in all projects.
At evaluation level, the Work Programme explains that if proposals end up being equally ranked, then they will be separated as follows:
When two RIA proposals are equally ranked and that it has not been possible to separate them using first the coverage criterion, second the excellence criterion, and third the generic Impact criterion, the level of SME participation will be taken as the next criterion to sort out the ties and if still un-conclusive, the level of IKOP will be considered as appropriate.
IKOP generation is linked to i) 6G-IA membership; ii) funding rate. Whatever the proposal, IKOP can only be generated by a participant that is member of the 6G Smart Networks and Services Industry Association (6G-IA). If a partner is a profit making company, it is reimbursed either at 90% for RIA or at 70% for IA. Then its IKOP generation is either 10% or 30% of the eligible costs of this partner that are not reimbursed by the project budget. But if a 6G-IA partner of the proposal is a non-for-profit member (e.g., university, research center, etc.) it is entitled to 100% reimbursement of its eligible costs and hence does not generate IKOP, although being a member of 6G-IA. IKOP generation for a given partner is hence computed as the percentage of eligible costs that are not reimbursed by the project and this depends on the type of partner.
Stream D does not exclusively focus on commercial equipment. Advanced testbeds or pilot infrastructure may as well be considered. If commercial equipment is to be procured, it is to be done according to the rules for purchasing equipment or services as described in the Model Grant Agreement (MGA).
For restricted topics, only 6G-IA members can be part of the beneficiaries. Sub-contracting applies to very specific work or service procurement and should in any case not be seen as a means to conduct mainstream R&I work.
The UK expressed its interest to be associated country to Horizon Europe. However, they are at this moment not associated (status 10 March 2022). Therefore, the General Annexes apply (Annex B, page 14):
[…] For the purposes of the eligibility conditions, applicants established in Horizon 2020 Associated Countries or in other third countries negotiating association to Horizon Europe will be treated as entities established in an Associated Country, if the Horizon Europe association agreement with the third country concerned applies at the time of signature of the grant agreement.
Therefore, UK entities currently cannot be treated as partners established in associated countries. If, by the time of the signature of the grant UK have not signed the association agreement, UK entities will be made 3rd country partners.
The list of associated countries can be found in the programme-guide_horizon_en.pdf (europa.eu) (pages 12-13). The latest version is from the 1st of February 2022 and is regularly updated.
Proponents may also want to consult UK announcements indicating that the UK has decided to extend its guarantee fund for all applications to calls “where researchers expect to sign grant agreements this year”.
It is up to the proponents to decide what best corresponds to their plans and exploitation timeline.
The SNS-JU is industry driven, which means that industrial exploitation is targeted at some stage, and this is reflected in the “Impact” evaluation criterion. Academics are important and necessary for low TRL innovative technologies, but it is also important to outline how the research results may be taken up by industry or start-ups.
Restricted 6G-IA means that partners in these project proposals must be members of the 6G-IA.
This is correct, but not limited to it. Organisations from Associated countries are also eligible for funding, see list of associated countries in the programme-guide_horizon_en.pdf (europa.eu) (pages 12-13). The latest version is from the 1st of February 2022 and is regularly updated.
It depends if the call is restricted or not.
For such restricted topics, even participants at zero cost to the HE budget are expected to be part of the 6G-IA.
The introductory call text indicates: “Where appropriate, proposals should demonstrate that they contribute to SNS through In-kind Contributions to Operational Activities (IKOP) or In-kind Contributions to Additional Activities (IKAA) and foster increased membership of the Private Member of the SNS”. The contribution to IKOP is qualified in the WP text through the reduced funding mechanisms for profit making companies in RIA, further specified in the Appendix 1 of the R&I Work Programme published on the SNS web site, and clearly identified as an element that is evaluated under the Impact section. IKAA is not further detailed, nor further subject of any specific evaluation criterion. Such additional activities are truly complementary to the R&I work of the projects, and not part of the eligible costs contrary to IKOP. IKAA can only be accounted for 6G-IA members, as is the case of IKOP. These are specified at programme level, not at project/grant level in the SNS case. A list of IKAA categories has been specified for SNS and may be found at https://digital-strategy.ec.europa.eu/en/policies/sns-governance, in the “Annex I to the work-programme” document. However, it is not requested from projects to formally contribute to these IKAA categories. Proponents are thus free to plan or not for such additional activities. The evaluated work will only be what is covered by the actual proposals within the funded activities.
CASCADE FUNDING, FINANCIAL SUPPORT TO THIRD PARTIES (FSTP)
There is no recommendation for IKOP generation by the third parties that will join the project after the call for additional third party financing has been successfully completed.
For the purpose of the call with submission date on 26 April, the 20% should be computed against the budget actually allocated to the proponents (i.e. 80% for Stream C and 60% for Stream D). It may though be indicated in the proposal that cascading grants will be targeted towards SMEs. In that case, the percentage of SME participation may be computed against the full proposal budget, not against the 60 or 80% of the identified partners at the time of the proposal submission.
Article 6.1 item D1, page 30 of the MGA outlines the financing conditions for “Financial Support to Third Parties” (FSTP) that is the name of cascade funding in the MGA.
If the beneficiary is a non-profit legal entity, it can be reimbursed up to 100 % of the total eligible costs. If the beneficiary is however a commercial entity, the funding rate will be up to 90 % for Research and Innovation Actions (RIA) or 70% for Innovation Actions (IA). The consortia are free to choose the beneficiary that will receive and distribute the funding.
The beneficiary chosen to organise the cascading calls are free to define the rules, principles and rates that they will apply for distributing the funding and selecting third party recipients as long as some basic principles, such as transparency, are met.
In principle it may go over the default 60k€. The governing regulation however specifies that it has to be duly justified, since this is allowed for exception only, “where achieving the objectives of the actions would otherwise be impossible or overly difficult.”
When drafting a proposal for a topic where cascading grant has been planned (Stream C or Stream D topics), the online submission tool will give you access to a zip file for download. This zip file contains two documents: the part B template and an annex for FSTP declaration. The part B text should explain how FSTP activities contributes to the workplan and objectives, and the annex should be filled out to provide extra information for the planned FSTP.
The information in the annex will not be counted as pages in excess to the page limitation (70 pages) and will be taken into account for the evaluation process.
Important note: as the proposal submission tool does only allow to upload one extra pdf file in addition to the part B proposal, all annexes, if there are more than one (e.g. FSTP annex and Security annex for Stream D), should be included in one single pdf file.
Article 6.1 item D1, page 30 of the Model Grant Agreement (MGA) outlines the financing conditions for “Financial Support to Third Parties” (FSTP) that is the name of cascade funding in the MGA, and how it is allocated to the relevant partner in the consortium. The MGA also specifies the boundary conditions of the calls needed to identify beneficiary third parties. These calls are designed and managed by the project once contracted.
CALL COVERAGE AND SCOPE
Short-range communication is indeed very relevant and in line with the scope of the topic as well as IoT devices. For the specific issue of expected impact for the communication strand of Stream B, one can consider:
– The Generic expected impact as specified in Part D of the General Annexes to the Horizon Europe Work Programme 2021-2022, which still applies. That includes the classical generic impact of the action, e.g. the credibility of the pathway towards exploitation, dissemination, impact at standardisation level…
– The generic impacts that are parts of the introductory sections apply, e.g., reduced carbon footprint, sustainability, etc.
– Impacts and objectives also outlined in the introductory text of the Stream B may be considered to qualify the relevance of the proposed work in IoT or in Physical layer or nano-networks or short-range. In particular, the bold text below is of relevance for these aspects:
• A reinforced European leadership in connectivity extended to devices, and service infrastructures, with competitive offers to overcome the current challenges of deploying, managing, and exploiting large, distributed sets of consumer and business-oriented devices, needed to realise the 6G vision of intelligent inter-connectivity between the physical, digital, and human worlds, supporting massive digitisation of our economies and societies.
• Increased spectrum efficiency and dynamic spectrum sharing across multiple (and potentially new) frequency bands (potentially above 100GHz), covering technologies and architectures enabling optimized co-existence with the most difficult spectrum environments, enabling long-term opening of new frequency bands for mobile communication usage with better energy consumption performance, innovative sharing concepts, spectrum re-farming capabilities, and also addressing citizen concerns like low EMF exposure.
• Foster European capabilities in key technologies and notably AI/ML, advanced signal processing and microelectronics, paving the way towards advanced systems realizing visual vanishing (e.g., making the infrastructure imperceptible to the end-users) by fusion with physical environment. Insofar as AI techniques are concerned, the data sets to be used for the training and the evaluation of the mechanisms are expected to be open results from projects. Aspects of provision of such open data sets (e.g., date of release, its scope, and the dimension and diversity of data) will be considered as one of the projects’ valuable output for projects with core focus on AI techniques.
• Provide a set of technologies and architectures to reinforce the European industry position during the 6G standardisation phase expected to start around 2025.
Proponents are encouraged to read the complete work programme to understand the overall rationale behind the 6G related work and what impacts are sought.
Not necessarily. There are specific topics on optical/wireless e.g., in Stream B Strand 3, as an example.
In Stream B Strand 3 all these topics are identified and could be combined, or not, according to the vision & plan of the proposers.
Indicatively Stream B Strand 4 (under the security part) may consider blockchain technologies. However please note that this topic is not limited only to this part of the Work Programme.
Stream A is about the short-term evolution of 5G towards 6G. This has already a well-defined structure in terms of the overall architecture. Alignment between projects should be interpreted as complementarity among projects such that the resulting set of projects can provide a full system perspective. The call is designed to maximise the chances that resulting projects are complementary.
SNS will be key to define microelectronics components for 6G, e.g., THz components as an example, but complementary in-depth R&D can be taken up by KDT so cooperation between the two JU’s is targeted. SNS may address components requirements, performance and technologies, but detailed implementation aspects (integration of heterogeneous techs, packaging, etc.) is rather in the KDT domain. SNS may consider implementation aspects but it depends on the level, as the budgets will hit some limits and microelectronics implementation is highly “capex” intensive.
Coverage of the topic is left to the proponents. As Stream B-01-03 contains a variety of topics ranging from optoelectronics, NTN, HAPS, IoT, short-range communications and nano-things networking, it is possible that proposers work on a subgroup of topics that are closely related to each other.
Topics on quantum communications are not excluded, but this is not in strong focus in the SNS as it is already addressed in cluster 4 calls of Horizon Europe.
“Large-scale pilots” refers to test cases, which are demonstrating the functionalities and the service requirements that could be considered representative to operational conditions. The interpretation may depend on the use case and demonstrated functionalities. As an example, a large scale pilot in the connected car domain could be considered as “large” if the stretch of motorway is long enough to include several access points, e.g., to demonstrate continuity of service while moving. On the other hand, other use cases may imply that large scale would require a large enough collection of cars, e.g., in the case of a car-to-car communication use case.
Such collaboration topics are not planned for this call, but Japanese or Korean partners may participate, though without being funded from the EU SNS budget.
Bottom-up cooperation at project level is always possible, with SNS participants in a project also participating in other EU funded activities and establishing a targeting link with these other EU funded initiatives. A more top-down approach is being envisaged with specific actions like KDT on microelectronics, which will be supported at definition stage by the CSA projects and links that are already identified in the SNS Governance structure.
6G INFRASTRUCTURE ASSOCIATION (6G-IA) ISSUES
It is preferable that the mother group becomes member of the Association, which gives access to affiliate entities, if headquartered in Europe.
According to the statutes of the 6G-IA: Affiliate of a legal entity means a legal entity directly or indirectly Controlled by, or under common Control with or Controlling such legal entity, for so long as such Control lasts. For the above purposes, “Control” of any entity shall exist through the direct or indirect:
– ownership of more than 50% of the nominal value of the issued share capital of the entity or of more than 50% of the issued share capital entitling the holders to vote for the election of directors or persons performing similar functions
– right by any other means to elect or appoint managing board members of the entity (or persons performing similar functions) who have a majority vote.
Yes, they can participate.
No, it is not.
PROPOSAL STRUCTURE ASPECTS
Indeed, the former EC H2020 Part B Section 5 on Ethics and Security is now included in EC HEU (SNS) Part A Section 4.
QUESTION: Concerning the Partners Profiles incl. Organization Profile and Partners “Champions” and short CVs previously captured in EC H2020 Section 4, part of the information will be included in EC HEU (SNS) Part A in dedicated Forms. The forms in Part A are “light” (just a Table listing the Researchers involved in the Proposal, 5 Publications…). Part of the information can be included in Part B Sub-Section 3.2 “Capacity of participants and consortium as a whole [e.g. 10 pages]“ in which the Partners roles can be presented, but not the detailed Profiles / CVs. Should the Partners Profiles incl. “Champions” CVs be included as Annex to Part B and count in the 100 pages? According to the EC Manual (https://ec.europa.eu/info/funding-tenders/opportunities/docs/2021-2027/common/guidance/om_en.pdf – Page 31/81))
ANSWER: Concerning the Partners Profiles, indeed a “light” part of the information will be included in EC HEU (SNS) Part A in dedicated Forms, while additional information on partners roles and capacity will be included in Part B.
Annexes to Part B are only meant for extra information and will not be counted in the page limit (e.g. 70 or 100 pages limit). If the uploaded document for part B does contain more than the specified page limit (70 or 100 pages depending on the selected topic) information contained in these extra pages will not be evaluated. , and thus will not be evaluated. Information that is important and to be evaluated to support the proposal have to be, for the part B of the proposal, within the 70 or 100 page limit as appropriate for the selected topic.
The additional Annexes might be used to develop the description of procedures e.g., on financial support to third parties/cascading grants, or for ethics/security related aspects. These will not be counted as pages in excess to the page limitation (70 or 100 pages depending on the topic) and will be taken into account as extra information. If CVs are put in Annexes, they won’t be evaluated.
Important note: as the proposal submission tool does only allow to upload one extra pdf file in addition to the part B proposal, all annexes, if there are more than one (e.g. FSTP annex and Security annex for Stream D), should be included in one single pdf file.
Each partner in the proposal contributing to IKOP generation should fill up one line in the table, including the participant number in the proposal, the short name, and the name of the 6G-IA member it is linked to. In the “cost” column, the absolute value of the € value of the generated IKOP for this partner is indicated. This is summed at the bottom and divided by the overall eligible costs, to compute the percentage of IKOP generated by the proposal
Table 3.1k In-Kind contributions to Operational Activities IKOP
Please complete the table below for each participant estimating the value of their provided In-Kind contributions to Operational Activities (IKOP) as specified in the Appendix 1 of the SNS R&I Work Programme 2021-2022 ‘Conditions of the 2022 Call’.
|Participant Number/Short Name|
|Corresponding 6GIA Member (Legal Entity Name)||Cost(€)|
|Total IKOP costs: (€)
Total IKOP contribution in percentage of overall costs: %
The suggested limitations of the online manual for what concerns number of deliverables and work packages relate to the default limitation of 45 pages for standard Horizon Europe proposals. As the page limits for SNS call topics has been set to 70 pages (or 100 pages for some topics), this limitation does not apply.
Appendix 1 of Work Programme published on the SNS web site outlines that this should be subject of a self-declaration of the consortium. This short declaration may be added to the summary list of consortium members at the beginning of part B of the proposal. It is a duty of the consortium coordinator to verify that all consortium members actually comply with the 6G-IA membership rule for such restricted topics.
The full members as well as the associate 6G-IA members are listed at the 6G-IA web site (https://6g-ia.eu/). As 6G-IA is frequently receiving and approving new membership applications, it may take a few days for newly accepted members to appear on the web site. Note also that the definition of affiliated entity to a 6G-IA member can be found in the section “6G INFRASTRUCTURE ASSOCIATION (6G-IA) ISSUES” (second point).
SECURITY PROVISIONS (Stream D Proposals only)
All Horizon Europe proposals have to go through a security and ethics self-assessment. A specific table in the proposal part A is to be filled to that purpose. SNS Large Scale Trials and Pilots (LST&Ps) with Verticals, (stream D) proposals have to go through a supplementary (cyber)security declaration, in accordance with Article 170.1 of the COUNCIL REGULATION (EU) 2021/2085 of 19 November 2021 establishing the Joint Undertakings under Horizon Europe.
The security declaration consist in an analysis from the consortium outlining i) if there are cybersecurity risks and ii) how they will be mitigated in the context of the implementation of the proposed work. Page 34-35 of the Work Programme published on the SNS web site, under Stream D description of work, outlines typical cases as:
1) A test infrastructure is connected to an operational network, or is using resources from an operational network. This could lead to a cyber-security risk in scope of the 5G cyber-security toolbox. 2) Large scale test infrastructure is standalone, i.e. not connected to an operational network, but utilises close-to-commercial equipment. In this case, connectivity of this operational equipment (or of equipment from vertical companies trialling specific use cases) to equipment from entities established in or controlled from third countries may lead to exchange of project results potentially causing a security risks or undermining a sustainable supply chain from an EU perspective
The security declaration should focus on potentially sensitive information from the cybersecurity point of view, potentially exposed within the consortium and further exploitable by third country entities to compromise an operational infrastructure or equipment’s that may be used in a complete operational infrastructure. Example: if a network equipment implements in open source an algorithm used in operational systems, the exposed knowledge may be used to later compromise an operational infrastructure. More broadly, the analysis is meant to focus on documents, information and results related to equipment or services deployed or used within the proposed project and to make sure that it will be duly protected and not lead to exposure of sensitive information in the cybersecurity context. So the proposal should synthetically describe the possible risks (if any) and the mitigation measures to alleviate/suppress them.
In terms of duration, the protective measures if needed should remain in place during the project duration and after if it is further used beyond the project duration (which may be the case as the SNS programme is designed to build test and experiment facilities with gradual upgrades over time and phases. This is further outlined on page 49, in the appendix of the Work Programme published on the SNS web site.
Participation from third countries and non EU Member States entities is fully possible. It is recognised that for some equipments, services or software, entities from non EU Member States may be needed and relevant as participants. However, proposals are expected to demonstrate EU added value, with particular attention to the role of suppliers in the cyber-security of the network/service elements deployed for large-scale experimentation or piloting, as well as in the development of a sustainable supply chain from an EU perspective. This is particularly relevant when security-sensitive information need to be exchanged among project partners, or accessed by them.
The part A of the proposal includes a “security issues” table that has to be filled out for all proposals. In the case of Stream D proposals, possible security risks in the sense of cybersecurity risks as described in the call text should be identified here, notably under the second question of item 3 in the table “Other security issues”. This text in part A is however limited to 1000 characters. Further information may hence be included in part B under a security chapter. It is also possible to add a security annex to part B, detailing the planned mitigation measures to alleviate or suppress the identified security risks.
- The submission process of a Stream D proposal on the participant portal at https://ec.europa.eu/research/participants/submission/manage/screen/submission/create-draft/23597?topic=HORIZON-JU-SNS-2022-STREAM-D-01-01 provides access to a zipped file, including the proposal part B template, and an annex template for Financial Third party Declaration (cascade funding). The zip file does not include a template for a security annex. If proponents want to submit such an annex, they have to write it in free and concise format.
- as the proposal submission tool does only allow to upload one extra pdf file in addition to the part B proposal, all annexes, if there are more than one (e.g. FSTP annex and Security annex for Stream D), should be included in one single pdf file;
- On page 22 of the part B template in the zip file, it says under section 3, that part A should not be filled. THIS IS NOT CORRECT, and part A information should be filled in the “security issues” table of part A, see above.
- Under the same section 3 page 22 of the part B template, the following text is to be found: “In particular, the proposals should describe in the Part B Security Section, subsection 1 how these security requirements are met by the proposal, and in subsection 5, how any remaining security issues are addressed through specific measures.” THIS TEXT SHOULD BE IGNORED, as these subsections do not exist.
- Under the same section 3 page 22 of the part B template, it is indicated that an annex to part B should be included. This annex should primarily describe mitigation measures for the potentially identified cybersecurity risks. (except if Not Applicable)