26 Mar 2021

The reallly exciting part of the ONTOCHAIN journey is now starting. We spoke with Prof. Vlado Stankovski, ONTOCHAIN technical coordinator, to know more about the projects that have been selected for the Research Proposal phase and what comes next for the 18 teams behind them.


What is the goal of the ONTOCHAIN first Open Call?

The goal of the ONTOCHAIN project is to develop a new software ecosystem for trusted, traceable and transparent ontological knowledge management.

The purpose of the 1st Open Call is to establish the ONTOCHAIN architecture and software ecosystem based on innovative solutions and enabling technologies. The goal is to support various new trustworthy applications in domains such as health, economy, mobility, public services, energy and sustainability, news, media, entertainment, Industry 4.0 or tourism. Specifically, the ONTOCHAIN project designs an innovative architecture centred around 6 research and innovation topics, including: application development platforms, semantic interoperability, on-chain data and metadata management, off-chain knowledge management, ecosystem economy, ecosystem scalability and integration.


What do you think about the proposals submitted?

Our project Open Call received great interest from academia and industry. At total we received 137 proposals. There were a lot of good, well-thought, complementary and nicely fitting project proposals received in this phase of the project. The review process highlighted 18 project proposals that we think will excellently serve their purpose.

The projects funded are very diverse and complementary in nature. We now believe we have assembled a group of partners with profound knowledge capable to produce the design of the ONTOCHAIN software ecosystem. 


What is your expectation regarding the 18 selected projects and their potential impact?

From the initial pool of 18 projects, funded under phase 1, a subset of 6 projects will be maintained. By the end of phase 2, we expect detailed design specifications of the ONTOCHAIN software ecosystem. These design specifications will then be used to prepare the 2nd Call which is expected in August 2021. 

An important criterion for selection of the 6 successful projects is their ability to demonstrate a good technology choice, detailed technical specifications and integration capacity among the technologies proposed and across the overall ONTOCHAIN software ecosystem.

We expect that the funded parties will start interacting among each other, that they will analyse and define the functional, non-functional and system requirements for the ONTOCHAIN software ecosystem from their perspective. We want that participants in this phase prepare detailed use case specifications for their solution proposal.
The potential impact of the proposed solutions will be based on analysis of the technology prototypes that are proposed, their utility and their ability to integrate within the ecosystem.


What type of support can the selected applicants expect?

Working with ONTOCHAIN will effectively accelerate the development and deployment timelines for these critical technologies by providing to them both needed funding and also the network effects available within the ONTOCHAIN community.

One or more mentors from the ONTOCHAIN consortium will be assigned to each project and follow its updates on a weekly basis. All participants will also benefit from:

  • Monthly plenary conference;
  • Weekly sprints with assigned coaches;
  • Fortnightly private discussion on their particular topic;
  • Participants may seek collaboration with any of the core ONTOCHAIN project partners;
  • Access to the iExec platform for free on the Ethereum Goerli testnet;
  • Free access to the patent publication bases technical landscape maintained by IntelliSemantic;
  • Participants are also free to interact among each other.


What excites you the most about the work that is now starting?

There has been enormous interest in ONTOCHAIN project, and we received many excellent project ideas. Unfortunately, we could not fund all of them in this initial phase, however, the participants should bear in mind that we have two more upcoming calls with a total value of around 3 M EUR.

The most exciting part is to realise that Blockchains are still in infancy stage and ONTOCHAIN has the capacity to raise the level of abstraction and introduce novel trusted knowledge management mechanisms associated with blockchains. The impact of this type of work can be enormous and we have already discussed them on the project website.


What are the next steps?

Now we are at  phase 1 where 18 projects are selected to conceptualize a research project for 1 of the 6 topics aforementioned.  Then, for phase 2, from the initial pool of 18 projects, a subset of 6 projects will be retained based on their quality to elaborate the concept proposed in phase 1 and prepare design specifications to be implemented in the Open call 2.

For phase 3, the best publications, outcomes of phase 1 or phase 2 will be selected and awarded. Participants are of course free to realise some projects in collaboration with other ONTOCHAIN partners. The modalities to receive the award is stipulated in the Sub-Grant Agreement signed with the third parties.