EU Releases First Large-Scale 6G Research and Innovation Program

With a budget of almost €240 million set aside from public funds, the European Union’s ‘Work Programme 2021-2022’ will finance operations spanning from 5G progression to frontier research into 6G technologies, including large-scale experiments and pilots with vertical industries.

The initiative builds on an EU investment of €900 million over the next seven years, which will be matched by a similar amount from the private sector. The goal is to help European companies establish 6G Research and Innovation (R&I) capabilities and lead markets for 5G infrastructure as a foundation for the digital and green transformation.

The recently adopted SNS Work Programme will serve as the foundation for ‘Calls for Proposals’ to be issued in early 2022. It identifies four major work streams that are complimentary to one another:

  • Stream A (Research and Innovation Actions – RIA) – Smart communication components, systems, and networks for 5G Evolution systems.
  • Stream B (Research and Innovation Actions – RIA) – Research for radical technology advancement – in preparation for 6G and radical advancements of Internet of Things (IoT), devices and software.
  • Stream C (Research and Innovation Actions – RIA) – SNS Enablers and Proof-of-Concept (PoCs), including development of experimental infrastructure(s) that could be further used during later phases of SNS.
  • Stream D (Innovation Actions – IA) – Large-scale SNS trials and pilots with verticals, including the infrastructure needed to investigate and showcase new technologies, sophisticated applications, and advanced services in the vertical domains.

On 30 November, Council Regulation 2021/2085 establishing the SNS JU entered into force. The SNS JU allows an EU investment of €900 million to be pooled with industry resources of at least the same amount for the period 2021-2027. It also promotes coordination with Member States on national 5G and 6G financing programs. The ambitious objective of the SNS JU is to drive 5G evolution as the foundation for the digital and green transformation, as well as to establish Europe’s technological capacity for 6G systems, which are scheduled to be commercially available by the end of this decade.