NGI awards and engagement @4YFN

The Next Generation Internet initiative joined more than 760 exhibitors to engage with Startups and SMEs at the Four Years From Now (4YFN) conference in Barcelona, Spain last week. The event, which is part of Mobile World Congress, the world’s largest exhibition for the mobile industry, was held over three days and attracted thousands of visitors.

The Next Generation Internet (NGI) initiative had a prominent presence at 4YFN, with a booth and lounge area where we welcomed hundreds of SMEs, startups, innovators and researchers. People came to find out about our current Open Calls and how they can join and get involved with the NGI. The booth also hosted a VIP visit from the European Commission’s Pearse O’Donohue, Director Future Networks, DG Connect. Beyond the exhibitor area, NGI participated in 4YFN’s high-energy programme of workshops, talks and awards.

Workshop 1: NGI as a Catalyst for Europe

On Day 1, NGI held the workshop: NGI as a Catalyst for Europe, where the Open Calls were outlined in more detail. The workshop was introduced by Sara Pittionet from Speak NGI who welcomed Stefano Foglietta from the European Commission. Foglietta explained the advantages of the Horizon 2020 cascade funding scheme for Startups and SMEs, which include shorter lead times and the ability to apply for further funding in some instances.

“We currently have four Research & Innovation Actions (RIAs) running open calls. Each action is has a total of €5.4 million to fund internet innovators,” he said.

The workshop continued with short info-bites on projects who have received NGI funding and from two of the projects running current open calls: Ledger and NGI_Trust.

The workshop was wrapped up by NGI Outreach Office coordinator Dr Monique Calisti who encouraged SMEs and Startups to get involved:

“The NGI is a growing movement that’s here to stay. But we need your help to understand and shape some of the most important and pressing ideas in the agenda.”

Calisti also announced the next NGI Forum 2019 will be held in Helsinki in September.

NGI Awards Ceremony

The NGI Awards recognised eight internet innovators from Europe and beyond. This was the first edition of the NGI Awards, which gave prizes for excellence in three fields: Research & Education, Startups and Culture.

The NGI Awards ceremony was hosted by Marta Arniani from NGI Move, and featured an inspiring talk from the City of Barcelona’s CTO Francesca Bria on the vital importance of the NGI movement for Europe to lead the charge in helping shape a global digital agenda.

“NGI is an opportunity for Europe to go beyond regulation. To create a different technology ecosystem. We need an internet that is human-centric and rights-preserving. It’s a competitive advantage for Europe to use our values to help create a democratic, egalitarian, innovative digital society,” said Bria.

The award winners were presented with their trophies, and the 2020 NGI Awards were announced. Read more about the Awards winners and their projects at:

Workshop 2: The future of NGI

The final day of 4YFN saw NGI Outreach Office coordinator Dr Monique Calisti hosting The Future of NGI workshop. This took the form of a lively and informative panel discussion. Four experts in NGI-related areas each outlined their vision for a future internet.

Mara Balestrini, CEO of Ideas for Change, said: “The future of NGI should look human centric, human rights centric, and put us in the center to protect us and our data.”

Marc Torrens, Professor of Operations, Innovation and Data Science at ESADE Business School, Co-founder and Board Member at Strands, got granular, talking about how algorithms need to adapt for citizen empowerment: “We need another type of algorithm in which the customer is empowered and more open algorithms to understand how they work.”

From deep tech to the liberal arts, Harald Neidhardt, CEO & Curator, Futur/io and MLOVE in Hamburg, urged a cross-disciplinary approach to putting humans in the centre when creating the internet of the future: “Now, there is a new chance to define how do we want to live. And then, we have to think about how the technology can serve this vision.”

Sergi Figuerola, Chief Technology and Innovation Officer at i2CAT, who has also just been named CTO of 5G Barcelona, talked about challenges related to connectivity:  “One big issue will be to use this huge connectivity potential wisely. [It must be] distributed and not centralized, because if some entity takes the control on one small part, it could control everything.”

NGI Salon

The NGI also hosted an offsite NGI Salon event focused on Millennials entitled: The Future of (Y)Our Internet. Read our NGI Salon report.

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