Setting Sails for the next generation of European research networking

EuroHPC, European Open Science Cloud, ever increasing cross-border and global research collaboration, and a transition to digial and data driven research and education accelerated by the COVID-19 crisis all pose formidable challenges for European research communities. European researchers are making strong progress in AI, green technologies, health and medicine, and much more. The European Commision has lauched a new framework programme for research - Horizon Europe - to give these efforts momentum. The European NREN's are a key enabler for these developments.

The GÉANT collaboration is a cornerstone of the NREN response to these challenges. In the GÉANT Association, the NRENs work together to ensure coordinated European initiatives, and in the GÉANT projects - co-finanzed by the European Commission - deliver a pan-European high-capacity network, digital identity infrastructure, and much more. Recently, the GN4 project has restrcutured the European GÉANT backbone network with a larger and more finely meshed dark fibre footprint, based on long-term fiber leases.

Now is not the time for GÉANT Association and the NRENs to rest on their laurels. Great infrastructure raises the expectations for the future, and those expectations must be met for European research to excel. To prepare, the General Assembly of the GÉANT Association has agreed a strategy for 2021-2026, underscoring the mission of collaboration "To empower Research and Education with an open, innovative and trusted information ecosystem", and setting high-level strategic objectives; to be the trusted infrastructure partner for European research and education; to facilitate a secure information ecosystem; and to continute to offer global leadership in research networking. As a strong community the NRENs will foster innovation and be a trusted partner of research communities, the EC and national governments.

In the coming year, the GÉANT collaboration will  prepare the next GÉANT project. The project is a major commitment for the GÉANT Association, the NRENs, and the EC, and will strongly impact  future European e-Infrastructures. “However, before we discuss an agreement with the EC, it is essentual to clarify among the GÉANT members ourselves which direction we would like to see. This is what the strategy revision now agreed by the General Assembly is all about,” explains Lars Fischer, Strategy & Policy Officer at NORDUnet.