IFAB Call for Projects 2023/2024

Pushing the Boundaries of Research and Innovation:
Addressing Grand Societal Challenges through Technologies

Are you an innovative thinker? Do you believe in the power of cutting-edge ideas in science and technology to transform society? Are you eager of overcoming the boundaries between disciplinary realms and between academia and industry? If so, IFAB invites you to embark on a transformative journey and be part of an initiative that aims to address pressing challenges in the fields of Earth, health, complex societal systems, and new materials.
At the forefront of progress, these domains are hotbeds of transformative potential. In particular, in the last decade, big data analytics, Artificial Intelligence methods, High-Performance-, Cloud-, and Edge-computing facilities have led to significant changes both in the methods of generating scientific knowledge and in their application to industrial settings.
In this context, IFAB considers project opportunities fundamental to match the practices of research with the needs of industry and society. With this Call for Projects, we aim to assemble a consortium of exceptional minds, passionate about intersecting research and innovation, to pioneer groundbreaking advancements that do not bring value only to the projects’ participants but that embed a responsible and sustainable perspective on our planet and society.

IFAB Missions

The Call for Projects is promoted by IFAB – International Foundation Big Data and Artificial Intelligence for Human Development. It has three major goals:

  • Reinforcing, enhancing, and promoting scientific research and its cross-disciplinary applications, with particular focus on Big Data and Artificial Intelligence.
  • Designing scenarios related to economic and social transformation in connection with the great challenges of our times: the climate change, the health crisis, the exploitation of resources, the management of complex urban systems, and the application of conventional and innovative technologies.
  • Dissemination of the role and potential of Artificial Intelligence and Big Data in addressing global problems and other issues with an impact on people’s lives. The goal is to increase awareness of the importance of these new technologies among the public, entrepreneurs, and politicians.

To pursue these goals, IFAB promotes, manages, and carries out cross-disciplinary and applied research, training, and dissemination for establishing and reinforcing a European Hub of Big Data and Artificial Intelligence further to a new, inclusive, sustainable, open, and humane form of development. IFAB operates in mainly four thematic areas, which are also those addressed by the projects of the present Call.

Thematic areas

The projects need to address one of the following thematic areas and develop or exploit HPC computational methods, big data analytics or artificial intelligence, cloud- and edge-computing workflows; projects based on quantum computing methods will also be considered.

Earth and climate: Projects under this theme should focus on addressing climate change and its impacts, with an emphasis on mitigation strategies. We are particularly interested in projects related to the production of energy from renewable and alternative sources. Additionally, projects that aim to reduce and remove greenhouse gas emissions, as well as those that promote energy efficiency in industries and manufacturing, are strongly encouraged.

Healthcare and medicine: In this thematic area, we are seeking projects that facilitate the development of IT and computer-aided design platforms for various aspects of healthcare and medicine. Priority will be given to projects that aim to improve care management flows and enhance drug design and repurposing techniques. We are also interested in projects that focus on precision medicine methodologies, genomics and genetics data processing, and in silico (computational) medicine.

Complex societal systems: Projects in this thematic area should concentrate on the development of digital twins for complex systems. While urban systems are one potential focus, we also encourage projects related to mobility and the transport of goods and people. Moreover, projects targeting value chains and supply chains in sectors such as agri-food, logistics/transport, manufacturing, finance, and insurance are of interest. We also welcome projects that address workforce health and safety within complex systems.

New materials: Within this thematic area, we are seeking projects that explore innovative methods for developing and designing materials. Projects should prioritize environmental sustainability and contribute to the reduction of environmental pollution. Areas of interest include energy storage, circular economy, and biotech applications for the reuse of manufacturing waste.

Participants

Since IFAB aims at promoting collaborative inquiry, proposals must have a diverse partnership. In particular, the projects must include at least one private business or industry and one research partner. The Principal Investigator of the leader entity cannot be the Principal Investigator of more than one project nor of any other currently active IFAB funded proposal. However, no restrictions apply to participation in multiple projects as a member of the partnership.

Budget and Funding

A budget of €500,000 for the 2023 Call will made available by IFAB through its own funding sources. Exceptions notwithstanding, the maximum admissible funding granted per project will be €120,000. At least one project for each of the above thematic areas will be funded from among those deemed appropriate.

The Foundation will reimburse only 50% of eligible costs of private companies that are not members of the Foundation. However, reimbursement of up to 100% of eligible expenses is envisaged for Foundation members, public bodies, and not-for-profit operators and research organizations formally recognized by a public entity. However, co-financing, both in kind and in cash, is strongly appreciated to increase the mobilization of resources and the critical mass of the various initiatives.

Project duration

Projects are expected to last a maximum 12 months from the signing of the research agreement. Extensions are possible up to a maximum of 6 months if judged pressing and justifiable. Any extension will not, however, entail any increase in the funding allocated.

Project evaluation

Each proposal will be reviewed by at least two independent referees to ensure the presence of both academic and industrial or business expertise.  

The reviewers will assess the project’s quality in three main areas: relevance and innovation (project’s innovative potential to bring about novel and groundbreaking ideas, technologies, or approaches; quality and complementarity of the partners; contribution to long-term policy objectives and alignment with the call); implementation and feasibility (capacity of the applicants to carry out the proposed work, maturity of the proposed action, soundness of the implementation plan); impact (timing of the project in terms of market trends, research trends, and societal needs; extent to which the expected outcomes will be achieved; extent to which the proposal will strengthen competitiveness, reduce risks, and benefit to society or business). Bonus points will be given to proposals addressing environmental sustainability and the European Green Deal goals, in terms of direct effects and/or awareness of environmental effects and to proposals ensuring gender balance and fostering the involvement of early-career resources.

Application procedure
Project proposals must be submitted exclusively through the following link
. The deadline for submissions is set for October 23th, 2023 (4:00 PM, CEST). Projects received after this date or through other channels will not be considered for evaluation. 

When submitting the proposals, applicants will be required to sign the acceptance of IFAB privacy statement and of the contract model. By responding to this Call, organizations acknowledge, agree, and accept that the award of the funding requires the irrevocable acceptance of the aforementioned documents.

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