Customer case

Deployment of quantum-based communication infrastructure

Mon 30 Jan 2023

Since the years 1950-1960, long-standing quantum theory has found many concrete applications that are currently well known to the general public such as the transistor, laser, MRI and others. These quantum technologies continue to evolve and recent advancements are paving the way to new applications. They are a very dynamic area of research and innovation, including super-fast quantum computers, quantum communications, and the security of communications networks.

This sector continues to engage public stakeholders, notably the French government and the European Commission which has been actively involved in these subject matters for many years (quantum plan; quantum flagship), as well as private stakeholders, manufacturers and startups, especially telecom operators. The latter is particularly interested in the implementation of quantum technologies in the security of communications networks and quantum cryptography. Accordingly, several projects such as the distribution of quantum keys (QKD-Quantum Key Distribution have emerged, forming a large interdisciplinary community and cutting-edge expertise building on many experiences in the field, with a distinctive feature of bringing together different stakeholders in the sector.

The call for quantum communication networks’ projects is funded by The Digital Europe Program, yet many other EU funding programs, including Horizon Europe and Connecting Europe are also funding projects in the field of telecommunications.

Within the framework of the Digital Europe program, the European Commission has launched a call for project aiming at creating demonstrators of quantum communication networks in each European country, with serious EU contributions in each project. Our client – an international telecom operator – has headed the call by taking the lead of a consortium bringing together industry, startups, and academic and research institutions, in order to acknowledge his country’s response to the call.

A mission to coordinate the different players of quantum communication

Our client, in charge of coordinating the various players and submitting the consortium’s response to the call for this project, has asked Sofrecom to assist in the animation and coordination of this consortium, comprised of 13 private (industrial, start-ups) and public stakeholders (universities, research laboratories, government agencies). The objective was also to establish and formalize the regulatory framework for the preparatory work in order to optimize the response to the European call for projects.

In this view, it was first necessary to identify the distinctive features of the European program to which the project was attached in order to fully understand its ecosystem. Secondly, to facilitate cooperation between stakeholders, Sofrecom’s team sought, tested and set up a secure collaborative tool – OnlyOffice via Eurescom – in compliance with the security rules and standards in force in Europe to guarantee the confidentiality of exchanges within the scope of this project.

In concordance with this approach, the establishment and formalization of a regulatory framework for the preparation of the response to the call for projects was carried out in a very detailed manner, in conjunction with the internal and external legal teams: NDA*, teaming agreement, power of attorney, compliance, etc. allowing to express legal and regulatory expertise.

In this context, the main actions and deliverables were:

  • Identification of all documents to be produced concerning the response to the call for projects.
  • Collection and compilation of all documents constituting the consortium’s response to the call for proposals
  • Checking the completeness, quality and compliance of documents
  • Coordination of consortium members: communication, reminders, warnings, facilitation of regular items
  • And finally the online submission of the consortium’s response on the European Commission website.

The project submitted by our client was selected by the European Commission, with a grant of 50% of the total project cost. Therefore, in early 2023, the project will be able to start with our client overseeing the project and coordinating the various players of the consortium.

Given their scale and impact, projects funded by the European Union often involve many stakeholders brought together in a consortium; the response to European calls for projects therefore requires a great deal of accuracy and diplomacy in order to coordinate the various players and bring them towards a common proposal that is aligned with the strategy and priorities of the European Commission. The competence of Sofrecom consultants in legal and regulatory matters was one of the factors that lead to fulfilling these ambitions by filing the response to this call for projects within the deadline. Sofrecom’s expertise in the management of complicated projects has also enabled our client to align and streamline collaborative work between the different stakeholders of the consortium.

*A non-disclosure agreement (NDA) is a contract or confidentiality agreement between two entities that commits them to respect the confidentiality of certain information. It can be mutual or unilateral.