PICASSO’s Expert Groups met for the first time in Washington DC on May 20, 2016, hosted by NIST at the Department of Commerce. The Expert Groups focus on four topics of discussion: three groups focus on key enabling technologies areas – 5G Networks, Big Data, Internet of Things and Cyber-Physical Systems – relevant for smart cities, smart energy and smart transport. The forth group, on Policy, focuses on the horizontal overarching policy issues, such as Privacy and Data Protection issues, that are relevant for EU-US collaboration in the above-mentioned ICT domains.
Expert groups met first in private thematic morning sessions, and then in a public plenary session during the afternoon. Both the Expert Group meetings and the public meeting were well attended, with 66 people registered, including invited participants from key actors such as NIST (National Institute for Science and Technology), NSF (National Science Foundation), NITRD (Networking and Information Technology Research and Development Program), IMS, as well as PICASSO project partners. Due to the considerable interest shown for the discussions, the morning meetings were also opened up for wider participation, allowing the collection of a much wider viewpoint. This clearly demonstrated that there is interest in collaboration between the two sides concerning pre-competitive research and innovation in the areas being addressed by PICASSO, as well as similar existing ICT research and innovation efforts.
The morning sessions aimed at defining key challenges and needs for each technical domain, as well as at revealing gaps and strategic opportunities for EU-US collaboration in the related topics. The aim of the afternoon public meeting was instead to disseminate the results of PICASSO, highlight funding opportunities, and feedback the findings of the Expert Groups to a wider audience. Presentations covered the ICT landscape currently underway in Europe and the US (drivers, barriers, programmes, projects, initiatives, networks…) as well as the opportunities for EU and US ICT specialists to participate in EU and US research and innovation programmes.
It emerged that large ICT research and innovation efforts already exist in both the EU and the US in PICASSO’s areas of interest, with a number of priority topics already covered in various funding programmes, such as Horizon 2020 and a number of Federal Programmes. As a consequence, networks and critical mass in these subjects are already present on both sides of the Atlantic. In particular, the Panorama Report presentation highlighted that there are many areas where it would be possible to collaborate, in smart cities, smart energy and smart transportation, and also in the key topics identified: 5G, Big Data and IoT/CPS.
The interest in collaboration was very noticeable with specific questions on how US partners could engage with EU partners. However, it was clear that the principal difficulty is to identify programmes that allow EU and US partners to jointly work together. This highlighted the need to allocate/align funding and coordinate programmes on both sides of the Atlantic. A presentation from Intelligent Manufacturing Systems (IMS) showed how this could be achieved in practice, addressing two key requirements: the presence of funding to enable collaboration, and appropriate coordination between both sides. IMS is a multi-national programme that has been running for 20 years that has enabled $600M of funding.
As an outcome of the Policy Expert Group discussion, it was highlighted that there are several horizontal issues, e.g. data protection, privacy security and standardisation, that cut across domains and need to be addressed to ensure successful collaboration and exploitation of results. In particular, there is a need to raise awareness of these issues and explore ways forward that address legislation, regulations and standards.
Professor Haydn Thompson
Managing Director, THHINK Group
PICASSO has been financed with support from the European Commission. PICASSO brings together prominent specialists willing to contribute to enhancement of EU-US ICT collaboration. PICASSO does not represent EU or US policy makers, and the views put forward do not necessarily represent the official view of the European Commission or US Government on the subject. PICASSO cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of information granted.