< Contents ERCIM News No. 60, January 2005

Beyond the Horizon - A New European Action coordinated by ERCIM

by Grigoris Antoniou

Beyond the Horizon (B-T-H) is new so-called 'coordinated action' supported by the Information Society Technologies/Future and Emerging Technologies programme (IST-FET) of the European Commission.

The purpose of this action is to provide input about IST-related emerging trends and strategic research areas that require support, through a well-organised, extensive and systematic consultation of the relevant research community throughout Europe, involving the main actors and experts in the related fields. This input will assist the IST/FET programme with establishing its funding priorities for its 'proactive scheme' under the forthcoming 7th Framework Programme.

The main aims of B-T-H are the following:

  • identify advanced strategic areas and grand science and technology challenges related to information and communication technologies (ICT)
  • discuss the scientific, commercial and social importance of these challenges
  • draw basic research directions in ICT and related disciplines for addressing the above challenges
  • design roadmaps for making advances in these areas with a timeframe of fifteen years
  • identify new frontiers for ICT basic research, and boundaries between 'pure ICT' research and other disciplines
  • identify the potential for cross-fertilization of research in disciplines involved in these areas
  • establish communication and cooperation mechanisms within and beyond Europe in order to facilitate and support the formation and functioning of a related scientific community during the project lifecycle in a field characterised by rapid and continuous evolution.

The project will last 18 months and will be based on a number of thematic groups (expert panels) working in a parallel, yet coordinated fashion. Each thematic group will focus on a particular research area, and will deliver a staged roadmap for the particular area, depicting the research paths that are believed to be most promising for achieving substantial progress in the particular area. They will also analyse the potential scientific, industrial and societal impact of advances in its designated area.

The groups will be established at a dedicated opening workshop to be held during the first four months of the project. The intermediate findings of the groups will be discussed at a consolidation workshop to be held after the fist year. Subsequently, they will finalize their work, and the outcomes of the individual reports will be integrated into a final project report.

The operation of the thematic groups will be based on teleconferencing and on advanced on-line communication facilities rather than on physical meetings, to increase cost efficiency and to minimize time and place constraints that would be imposed on their members. An online community dedicated to each of the groups will be established, based on the deployment of an information portal and a collaborative work system. Technological support for Beyond-the-Horizon online communities will be provided through a suite of web-based tools that facilitate the sharing of information among a group of people, and collaboration towards the achievement of shared goals. The technological infrastructure will be designed to support authorization, virtual networking facilities, task allocation and monitoring, voting and survey tools, and navigation and query facilities in an easy-to-use environment.

Thematic Areas
The final structure of the project's work will be established at the Opening Workshop. However, a number of key areas have already been identified:

  • pervasive computing, coordinated by Prof. Alois Ferscha, University of Linz, Austria
  • nanoelectronics and nanotechnology, coordinated by Sir Harold Kroto and Prof. Kosmas Prassides, University of Sussex, UK
  • security and trust, coordinated by Prof. Michel Riguidel, ENS Telecom Paris, France
  • biomedical informatics, coordinated by Prof. Fernando Martin-Sanchez, Institute of Health Carlos III, Spain
  • intelligent and cognitive systems, coordinated by Prof. Rolf Pfeifer, ETH, Zurich
  • engineering and quality assurance of software-intensive systems, coordinated by Prof. Martin Wirsing, TU Munich, Germany.

B-T-H is managed by Bruno le Dantec, ERCIM office. The scientific coordinator is Grigoris Antoniou, FORTH. The scientific steering committee consists of Stefan Jähnichen, Fraunhofer Gesellschaft, Keith Jeffery, CCLRC, Jean-Eric Pin, CNRS and Arne Sølvberg, NTNU. B-T-H commenced on 1 January 2005 and will last until 30 June 2006. The next important step is the opening workshop that will take place in April 2005.

Interested members of ERCIM institutes are asked to participate actively.


Please contact:
Grigoris Antoniou, ICS-FORTH
Tel: +30 2810 391624

Bruno Le Dantec, ERCIM office
Tel: +33 4 9238 5010