Open Call for Deploying Advanced National QCI Systems and Networks
The European Commission is seeking proposals for its program entitled “Deploying advanced national QCI systems and networks”.
The EuroQCI will provide an unprecedented way of securing communications and data, integrating innovative and secure quantum products and systems into conventional communication infrastructures, by enhancing them with an additional layer of security based on quantum physics, i.e. quantum key distribution. Its aim will be to secure the EU’s public communication assets, in particular critical infrastructure and encryption systems, against cyber threats.
The actions supported by the Digital Europe programme are complemented by those developed through other EU programmes such as Horizon Europe and the Connecting Europe Facility, and by activities carried out by the ESA, complemented by actions supported with national, regional and private funds, and funding from the Recovery and Resilience Facility.
The objective of this topic is twofold. On one hand to deploy advanced national quantum systems and networks for testing quantum communication technologies and for integrating them with existing communication networks. On the other hand to use these quantum systems and networks for developing and testing use cases in support of national QCI initiatives in the context of the EuroQCI initiative. This support is needed to contribute to European technological autonomy in the highly strategic field of quantum communication technologies.
In the first two years of the EuroQCI’s implementation, the activities funded by the Digital Europe programme will focus on the following four main areas:
Preparation for industrialisation of European quantum key distribution (QKD) systems with improved performance, and contributing to the development of Europe’s industrial ecosystem for quantum communication technologies and systems;
Early deployment of advanced quantum networks supporting national quantum communication initiatives and their integration with existing communication networks
Deployment of a pan-European testing and certification infrastructure to assess the compliance of different European technologies, accelerating solution development, and ensuring trust in the EuroQCI;
Preparation and coordination of the large-scale deployment of the EuroQCI infrastructure.
In each participating Member State, the project should include the following activities:
Deploying advanced experimental quantum systems and networks combining the best of quantum and classical security technologies. Where possible, using pilot devices, technologies and systems developed and manufactured in the EU, in order to support their further development towards maturity and their compliance with the EuroQCI’s security needs. Making these systems and networks widely available for undertaking and testing (in a number of real use cases) the functioning and the provision of very high security QKD components and systems, their interoperability and the end-to-end secure functioning of the system architecture.
The aim is to prepare the large-scale uptake and use of such systems and technologies, operating in traditional telecommunications networs, Including, where relevant, existing TESTA infrastructure by national stakeholders and their first use in advanced use cases in different application scenarios:
targeting firstly public use cases by linking public authorities within the country;
making these quantum networks available to industries operating the network’s different layers contributing to developing national-based production chains for supplying critical quantum communication components and systems. This includes the integration of quantum and traditional cybersecurity systems in communication systems and networks (possibly also supported by post-quantum algorithms), which will be used to prepare for the future large-scale deployment of EuroQCI;
making these quantum systems and networks available for educational purposes providing a training environment for technical and research staff as well as national users from public authorities or other organisations.
Demonstrating first long-distance quantum communication networks (including, for example, quantum internet demonstrators) compatible with the overall EuroQCI system architecture, in order to prepare the large-scale deployment of a QCI spanning the EU;
Where relevant, testing the interface between the EuroQCI’s space and terrestrial systems.
Cooperating and participating with other Member States in the deployment plan and strategic efforts towards designing and building an overall EuroQCI system architecture, including by exchanging lessons learned and experiences in building robust and fully secure QKD systems and networks.
The available call budget is EUR 20 000 000. This budget might be increased by maximum 20%.
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))
EEA countries (Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein)
Beneficiaries and affiliated entities must register in the Participant Register — before submitting the proposal — and will have to be validated by the Central Validation Service (REA Validation). For the validation, they will be requested to upload documents showing legal status and origin.
Please be aware that the topic of this call is subject to restrictions due to security, therefore entities must not be directly or indirectly controlled from a country that is not an eligible country. All entities6 have to fill in and submit a declaration on ownership and control.
Participation in any capacity (as beneficiary, affiliated entity, associated partner, subcontractor or recipient of financial support to third parties) is limited to entities from eligible countries
Project activities (included subcontracted work) must take place in eligible
The Grant Agreement may provide for IPR restrictions.
For more information, visit https://bit.ly/3BtDCZ1