SNS Call 3 – Frequently Asked Questions

The third Call for proposals of the Smart Networks and Services Joint Undertaking (SNS-JU) will open on 16 January 2024 with a proposal submission deadline on 18 April 2024.

To help proponents of the third Call (referring to SNS 2024 R&I Work Programme) of the Smart Networks and Services Joint Undertaking (SNS-JU), frequent questions that have been raised by proponents or National Contact Points (NCPs) are addressed below. This list will be updated as new questions emerge.

CALL CONDITIONS AND PARTICIPATION

The  SNS 2024 R&I Work Programme published on the SNS web site includes an Appendix, page 45, which specifies the call conditions, which notably states that:

For RIAs under Streams B, C and IAs under Stream D, the award criteria table is

complemented as follows:

“- Introduction in the impact section of a sub criterion assessing the proposal contribution to the IKOP objectives;”

The sub criterion is to be found in the table of section 1.4 that outlines the main award criteria for the various actions.

The introductory part of the call conditions appendix outlines that the overall IKOP generation objective for this call represents EUR 8 million in total, i.e. 6% of the overall EU funding of the call that is EUR 129 million.

This has to be understood as follows: For all projects granted under this call, the total amount of eligible costs from members of the 6G-IA not reimbursed by the granting authority (SNS JU) should reach 6% (i.e. € EUR 8 million) of the total EU funding for this call (EUR 129 million). Only for-profit companies being member of the 6G Infrastructure Association (6G-IA) contribute to IKOP generation (see next FAQ point on how their IKOP generation is computed). The appendix also specifies in a table how the IKOP target at Programme level is converted in minimum values per Stream. All percentage of IKOP level listed in the appendix are minimum values resulting from the conversion of the total targeted IKOP level for the Call when considering past average participation per type of beneficiary (for-profit & not-for-profit members -or non-members- of 6G-IA). Note that universities, even if they are members of 6G-IA, do not contribute to IKOP as they receive 100% of their eligible costs in all types of project (RIA, IA and CSA).

At evaluation level, the Work Programme appendix also explains under section 1.6 how the IKOP level of a proposal may be used to sort out the ties between two or more equally ranked proposals.

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 participant is a for-profit company, its eligible costs are reimbursed either at 90% for RIA/CSA 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 granting authority. But if a 6G-IA participant 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 participant is hence computed as the percentage of eligible costs that are not reimbursed by the granting authority and this depends on the type of partner.

NB: For 6G-IA members from CH that participate as Associated Partners, all their requested amount is considered as IKOP.

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).

The agreement in principle reached by the European Commission and the UK Government provides that the UK would be associated to Horizon Europe as of 1 January 2024 and that association would apply only for award procedures implementing 2024 budget and onwards (e.g. calls for proposals and prizes). The budget year from which a call topic is funded is indicated on the respective topic page on the Funding & Tender Opportunities Portal.

 

For such award procedures implementing 2024 budget and onwards, entities established in the UK would be eligible to receive EU funding as entities established in an associated country and, as a consequence, to sign Horizon Europe grant agreements as beneficiaries, or be awarded Horizon Europe prizes. As any other beneficiary, a legal entity established in the UK could become a coordinator, if decided so by the consortium.

 

See the Horizon Europe List of Participating Countries on the Portal for an up-to-date list of associated countries.

Please also see:

European Commission Press Release: United Kingdom joins Horizon Europe programme (europa.eu)

F&T portal FAQ: Funding & tenders (europa.eu)

UK Government Press Release: Landmark moment for scientists, researchers and businesses as UK association to £80 billion Horizon research programme officially sealed – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

 

Therefore, for SNS Call 2024, UK applicants should be treated as entities established in an associated country throughout the process.

Any update of the situation will be reported in Funding & tenders (europa.eu) and in this FAQ.

It is up to the proponents to decide what best corresponds to their plans and exploitation timeline taking into account 6G developments worldwide and expected State of the Art based on R&I and standardisation roadmaps for core 6G technologies.

“Minimum participation of 6G-IA Members” means that participants n these project proposals must be members of the 6G-IA, or an affiliated entity to a member of the 6G-IA, at the required percentage (e.g. at 70% for HORIZON-JU-SNS-2024-STREAM-D-01-01).

For those Streams (Table in Section 1.2 of the Appendix of the SNS 2024 R&I Work Programme), applicants will be invited to fill a mandatory table of compliance at proposal stage in the Application Form Technical Description (Part B).

Important Note: Proposals that do not fulfil the required conditions, including the mandatory table of compliance, at the time of the proposal submission, will be considered ineligible and, therefore, will not be evaluated.

This is correct, but not limited to it. Organisations from Associated countries are also eligible for funding, see list of associated countries in the Horizon Europe Work Programme 2023-2024 General Annexes, section B.

The Annual Work Programme of the SNS JU for 2024 specifies in Annex the target level of IKAA for 2024 and the type of activities they cover. However, it is not requested that these activities take place in the context of SNS JU funded projects. These are planned to come from additional activities, and as such do not need to be planned in the proposals. There is hence no evaluation criterion planned to cover IKAA; only IKOP is taken into account.

Following the Council Implementing Decision (EU) 2022/2506, as of 16th December 2022, no legal commitments (including the grant agreement itself as well as subcontracts, purchase contracts, financial support to third parties etc.) can be signed with Hungarian public interest trusts established under Hungarian Act IX of 2021 or any entity they maintain. Affected entities may continue to apply to calls for proposals. However, in case the Council measures are not lifted, such entities are not eligible to participate in any funded role (beneficiaries, affiliated entities, subcontractors, recipients of financial support to third parties). In this case, co-applicants will be invited to remove or replace that entity and/or to change its status into associated partner. Tasks and budget may be redistributed accordingly.

Please also refer to the F&T Portal FAQs on how the Council Implementing Decision (EU) 2022/2506 on measures for the protection of the Union budget against breaches of the principles of the rule of law in Hungary affects the participation of the concerned legal entities in Horizon Europe actions published on the Portal. This FAQ list may be updated following further guidance.

An online brokerage service is available to assist everyone to find projects and participants. Potential Applicants can present their profile and interests and/or present their project ideas. In summary, this tool shows information about potential proposals and also show expertise offered by potential applicants. We encourage all potential participants in the current SNS call to avail of this service and to make their proposals strong by finding the best partners and collaborations. An online brokerage Event will also take place around end of January (more information will follow on SNS website and SNS communication channels, e.g. LinkedIn)

More information on https://sns-brokerage.eu/

For more information about the “Registration of participants”, you may refer to this presentation from the Central Validation Service:

or check this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VuNl478WEtU

CALL COVERAGE AND SCOPE

This call includes a lighthouse topic on microelectronics. SNS will be key to define microelectronics components for 6G and in this work programme SNS can support validation of technologies from the microelectronics domain developed either in the context of previous SNS Calls, or Horizon Europe Cluster 4 WP, or the Chips JU. Microelectronics developments in the context of 6G national initiatives are also in scope.

A key objective is the establishment of a bridge and an active cooperation link between the two communities, offering on the one hand new requirements to the microelectronics domain while on the other hand providing validation results of the tested solutions to Chips JU so that these can be considered in the subsequent phases of the Chips JU.

Coverage of the topic is left to the proponents. Proponents are free to address a subset of the bullets outlined in a given topic or all of them. This is not an evaluation criterion.

“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 “connected car” large-scale pilot could be considered as “large” if it includes the deployment of multiple access points, e.g., for the purpose of demonstrating coverage and/or continuity of service while moving. On the other hand, other use cases may imply that large scale would require a large enough number of end-terminals and users.

6G SMART NETWORKS AND SERVICES INFRASTRUCTURE ASSOCIATION (6G-IA) ISSUES

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.

Membership in the Association is open to and limited to entities with legal personality, that

  • have a registered seat in the Member States, Candidate States and Associated Countries of the European Union; and
  • support the mission and vision of the Association and Horizon Europe (SNS JU) Contractual Arrangement; and
  • have research and development (herein “R&D”) activities in the Member States, Candidate States and Associated Countries of the European Union.

Yes the deadline to apply for 6G-IA membership is the 31st of March 2024. After that time it cannot be guaranteed that membership applications will be processed in time, for members to be eligible in the WP2024 calls.

Yes, you need to communicate the PIC number of your organization and the PIC number of any affiliated entities to the 6G-IA.

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.

……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))

 

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. 100 pages limit). If the uploaded document for part B does contain more than the specified page limit, information contained in these extra pages will not be evaluated. Information that is important and to be evaluated to support the proposal must be, for the part B of the proposal, within the page limit as appropriate for the selected topic.

The additional Annexes may be used to develop the description of procedures e.g., for ethics/security related aspects. These will not be counted as pages in excess to the page limitation and will be taken into account as extra information.

Each partner in the proposal (contributing AND not contributing to IKOP generation) should fill up one line in the table that is provided in the Part B submission form, including the participant number in the proposal, the Membership status, the IKOP value (€), and the name & PIC of the 6G-IA member it is linked to (in the case of affiliate 6G-IA Members). In the “IKOP” 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.

The final table will be provided in the submission forms as of Call Opening. An indicative table would look like the one below:

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 is different, it does not apply.

Appendix 1 of Work Programme published on the SNS web site outlines that applicants will be invited to fill a mandatory table of compliance at proposal stage in the Application Form Technical Description (Part B).

Proposals that do not fulfil the above conditions, including the mandatory table of compliance, at the time of the proposal submission, will be considered ineligible and, therefore, will not be evaluated.

The final table (combined with IKOP) will be provided in the submission forms as of Call Opening. An indicative table would look like the one below:

The same mechanism applies for all topics where it is requested that part of the consortium budget is implemented by 6G-IA members (identified in the table of Section 1.2 of Appendix 1 of the work programme.

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”. In case of any question you can contact directly the 6G-IA Office at: Office@6g-ia.eu.

SECURITY PROVISIONS (Streams B, C and D Proposals)

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 for that purpose. Moreover, all proposals submitted in Streams B, C and D have to include an additional security declaration (annex to the proposal), in accordance with Article 170.1 of the COUNCIL REGULATION (EU) 2021/2085 establishing the Joint Undertakings under Horizon Europe, the recent Commission Communication on the implementation of the 5G cybersecurity toolbox (C(2023) 4049 final) and the recently adopted EC strategy to enhance European Economic Security (JOIN(2023) 20 final).

The security declaration consists in an analysis done by the consortium duly explaining how the proposal:

(a) Demonstrates that any economic security risks including: 1. resilience of supply chains; 2. physical and cyber security of critical infrastructure; 3. technology security and technology leakage; and 4. weaponisation of economic dependencies or economic coercion, are taken into account and are properly addressed.

(b) Demonstrates that the infrastructure deployed within the proposed project shall remain, during the action and after its completion, within the beneficiary/beneficiaries and shall not be subject to control or restrictions by entities not established in Member States or countries associated to Horizon Europe, or entities controlled from third countries.

(c) Demonstrates that for any equipment to be deployed for the implementation of the proposed project and/or used for the management and operation of the resulting digital connectivity infrastructure, the required documents and information will be duly protected and not exposed to entities not established in Member States or countries associated to Horizon Europe, or entities controlled from third countries. Special care should be taken to satisfy the Commission Communication C(2023) 4049 requirements in relation to higher risks associated with certain network suppliers.

The security declaration should focus on potentially sensitive information from the cybersecurity point of view and the economic security risks (e.g. technology leakage and supply chain risks) and should clearly demonstrate that the management of project results, technologies and equipment (including software and services) in the proposed project comply with relevant security requirements. Example: if a network equipment implements an algorithm used in operational systems, the exposed knowledge may be used to later compromise an operational infrastructure. The analysis also focuses on documents, information and results related to equipment or services deployed or used within the proposed project. The declaration should clearly explain how they will be duly protected and not lead to exposure of sensitive information in the cybersecurity context. Therefore, 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.

In terms of evaluation/award criteria, a sub criterion has been introduced in the Impact Section (see Table 1.4 of Appendix 1 of the work programme) assessing the proposal contribution to the reinforcement of an EU added value, with particular attention to EU economic security objectives as well as economic security risks and the role of certain suppliers, as mentioned in the Commission Communication C(2023) 4049, in R&I activities. For the assessment of this sub criterion, the mandatory security declaration annexed to the proposal will also be taken into consideration. If this sub criterion is not addressed in a sufficiently effective way, this shall be considered as a significant weakness.

Participation from third countries and non-EU Member States entities is fully possible. It is recognised that for some research and innovation activities, equipment, services or software, entities from non-EU Member States may be needed and relevant as participants. However, proposals are expected to demonstrate an EU added value in the context of EU economic security objectives and economic security risks, including the consideration of supply chain and technology leakage risks. Particular attention should be paid to mitigating the higher risks associated with certain network suppliers as mentioned in Commission Communication C(2023) 4049. This is particularly relevant when security-sensitive information needs 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 all Stream B, C and 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. More detailed information should hence be included in the mandatory security declaration annex, detailing the planned mitigation measures to alleviate or suppress the identified security risks.

Important Note: The submission process of Streams B, C and D proposals on the participant portal provides access to a zipped file, including the proposal part B template and an annex template for the security declaration. The security declaration annex should primarily provide the required information to demonstrate that the security requirements are fulfilled and describe mitigation measures for the potentially identified security risks (except if Not Applicable). Please also refer to Appendix 1 of the SNS R&I Work Programme 2024 ‘Additional Conditions of the SNS 2024 Call’ for specific security provisions applicable to Streams B, C and D.

B-01-05: International Collaboration – EU-JP and B-01-06: International Collaboration – EU-ROK

HORIZON-JU-SNS-2024-STREAM-B-01-05 and HORIZON-JU-SNS-2024-STREAM-B-01-06 are not joint calls, therefore awarding of funding for both the EU and the JP and ROK projects respectively is not expected to be synchronized. Nevertheless, efforts have been made in order the starting date of the projects (the EU funded and the JP/KOR projects respectively) will not deviate a lot.

According to the eligibility conditions that apply for STREAM-B-01-05 and STREAM-B-01-06 and as described in Annex B of the Work Programme General Annexes, JP and ROK partners are eligible for participation but not eligible for funding. Please note that JP and ROK subsidiaries are eligible if they are established in countries eligible for funding under Horizon Europe rules. Entities not eligible for funding (and therefore not able to participate as beneficiaries) may participate as associated partners (i.e. entities which participate in the action without signing the grant agreement, and without the right to charge costs or claim contributions).

This is not a joint call between EU and JP/ROK funding entities. It is not mandatory to include JP and ROK based entities in the consortia.

NB: “JP/ROK based entity” in that context has to be understood as an entity that is running the R&I activity in JP/ROK for the purpose of the proposals under consideration. It is not to be understood as the EU R&I arm/subsidiary of a JP/ROK company. “

For International Collaboration – EU-JP the work programme states that applicants are invited to explain how the EU-Japan cooperation will be implemented, i.e., the target Japan initiative to collaborate with and the approach of cooperation to be deployed with Japan stakeholders. The retained project is expected to work with the relevant Japan funded initiative by MIC/NICT, the call of which is expected to be announced by March 2024. Proposals should include description of specific cooperation activities to be carried out such as exchange of information and results, sharing of data, sharing of methodologies, researcher exchanges and visits, joint workshops, joint testbeds etc.

Similarly, for International Collaboration – EU-ROK, according to work programme text, applicants are invited to explain how the EU-ROK cooperation will be implemented, i.e., the target ROK initiative to collaborate with and the approach of cooperation to be deployed with ROK stakeholders. The retained project is expected to work with relevant ROK funded initiatives such as project(s) on EU-ROK cooperation funded by [the Republic of Korea Institute for Information & Communications Technology Promotion (IITP) and the Ministry of Science and ICT (MSIT), the call of which is expected to be announced early in 2024. In this context, proposals should describe joint research dissemination activities including joint research publications in renowned international conferences and journals. Furthermore, proposals should include description of specific cooperation activities to be carried out such as exchange of information and results, sharing of data, sharing of methodologies, researcher exchanges and visits, joint workshops, joint testbeds etc.

Information about the JP/ROK calls will be made publicly available in the future by the JP/ROK funding agencies respectively. As soon as JP/ROK call information will be publicly available, it will also be disseminated through the SNS JU website.

Indeed, all Horizon Europe proposals (including those to be submitted under HORIZON-JU-SNS-2024-STREAM-B-01-05 and HORIZON-JU-SNS-2024-STREAM-B-01-06) have to undergo a security and ethics self-assessment. Moreover, all proposals submitted in Streams B, C and D have to include a mandatory security declaration (annex to the proposal), 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 recent Commission Communication on the implementation of the 5G cybersecurity toolbox (C(2023) 4049 final) and the recently adopted EC strategy to enhance European Economic Security. More information on the security provisions can be found in Section “Security Provisions” of the FAQs

EU-RAIL – SNS SYNERGY: Digital & Automated testing and operational validation of the next EU rail communication system

The joint call “HORIZON-ER-JU-2024-FA2-SNS: EU-RAIL – SNS SYNERGY: Digital & Automated testing and operational validation of the next EU rail communication system” will be implemented by EU-Rail JU, with a contribution of up to EUR 1 000 000 from the SNS JU budget. The selection criteria and the call conditions can be found in the EU‐Rail JU Work Programme 2024, that has been adopted by the EU-Rail Governing Board on 5 December 2023 and published at: GB-Decision_16_Annex_WP2024.pdf (europa.eu)

The submission of proposals should be done through the relevant EU-Rail JU Call. For more information on Call Conditions please look Annex VII – Call for proposals 2024 of the EU‐Rail JU Work Programme 2024.

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