Session: Hacking EU Funding for a decentralising FOSS project by @

Holger Krekel

Eu funding often thought of as way to “make money fast”

Aristotle: Focus on the use value of money, not on the exchange value.

Horizon 2020: 30.77 Million per day for 7 years. 78 Billion total spent on research projects. For perspective compare the investment in the Apollo Program: 53 Million per day- 135 Billion in total. “We should be able to do a lot with the money but it seems we are not even able to build an airport in Berlin”.

Margaret Hamilton, Director on-board flight software for Moon Landing. Used to be that research projects basically consisted of capable people thrown together who self organised to build things. It is not like this anymore, we are deep in beaurocracy: “The software and IT we are building is prolonging this beurocracy. Such as in call centres- there is no agency anymore”. Reading Reference: Graeber on rules and beurocracy.

Information Communication Technology is about 30% of the budget. The EU is a market oriented organisation, but there is more- t"ICT innovation stategy focuses on society. There is a need for interdisciplinarity and understanding of human history: IT people tend to have a simplistic view- perhaps because software is eating the world, it grew so much we th

Main activity areas:

  1.  new generation of components and systems.
  2.  Advance computing
  3. Future internet
  4. Content technologies, information management
  5. Robotics
  6. Micro- and nano-electric technologies, photonics.

Application environment

Key thing to know is that applications are driven by human relationships and #32c3 is perfect environment for doing this- go around talk to people, see where your work aligns and what you could do together.

  • work programmes and calls
  • consortia and proposals: number of organisations write and submit proposals. Recent change is that now it is easier for Small companies (SME) to participate:
    • can be very small
    • 100% funding and 25% overhead
    • bearable paperwork In Holger's opinion (has done this as SME himself): its a bit hard to authenticate but regiserting as a company is a matter of a day's work.
  • evaluation and acceptance.
    • Criteria:
      • Excellence: needs to discuss the state of the art in that field and how you intend to go beyond that- it needs to be risky and bold, something that spans 2-3 years, involves 10 people working on the project.
      • Impact: the market liberal aspect. They percieve this as how your work will strengthen the European market against Asian or Brasilian or whatever. So you need to argue how this will be the basis for products to be developed.
      • Quality and efficiency: How well you allocate the money between the partners, as well as how qualified the people are to be able to execute the project. You need to show previous related projects.The scientists that need to be involved need to have some track record.
    • Evaluation process
      • Two independent reviewers per proposal
      • points for each of the three criteria
      • highest accumulated scores first.
      • There is no set threshold after which you are safe- it depends on the number of proposals, and the budget-the highest ranking (accumulated scores) proposals are selected first.
      • About 50% proposals are empty of content or implausible. 
    • And if you win you have so called execution activities, i.e. the legally binding deliverables that you have to submit to the EC. If you don't you can get legal problems:
      • Researching and collaborating: does it look like the partners are actually collaborating. If someone drops out it is actually possible to shift budget to another organisation to deliver a goal. But this requires there to be real trust, and genuine intention to deliver something, between the partners.
      • Delivering promised results
      • Financials and reporting

32C3 vs Horizon2020

When you apply for a lecture at 32c3 you get a kind of “gated community contest” whereas with the EU you actually get the numbers and feedback on the proposal, which is not the case with talks submitted to the congress. There is a lot of flack about EU being untransparent etc…but it’s good to be self-critical also, are we so much different. Put yourself in their position, what would happen if the CCC community/context had billions to distribute? The dynamics would change.

Example: Collective Awareness call

Something needs to be done, goes back to Snowden.


We decided to focus on a specific part of the call: “Core objective of NEXTLEAP project is to build the fundamental interdisciplinary internet science necessary to create a devcentralised, privacy preservation, monitoring of network neutrality, non-discriminatory access…”. IN THE CURRENT MARKET ENVIRONMENT which we have, not a trivial problem.

Case: The PyPy project

  • just in time compiler for Python
  • EU funded 2004-2007, still thriving today (very unusual, makes EC happy because they want to put some money into things that really will still be around after the money is spent)
  • People and project first, then funding.

Getting help

The national contact points are usually very helpful. They are not  working for the EU, but for the countries: to get the largest possible piece of the cake for their nationals. The EC officers are much less approachable because EC officers are personally liable with at least one year’s salary if they give advice to projects, which then turn out not to get through the legals/processes because of previous large corruption scandals.

My own idea: Maybe share the work/costs of having people attend (and share documentation) from some of the network events e.g. in Brussels to have an idea of what calls are going to be announced.

Hacking funding? 

How is does Decentralisation agenda is being pushed by a centralised organisation? According to Holger:

1. Decentralisation is seen as a backdoor by cities and regions to circumvent bad policies of nation states

2. Decentralisation has a funny relationship with centralisation: it’s seen as a means of getting around central commercial entities trying to capture all the value, (for healthier markets?)