Our world increasingly relies on digital systems to record, support and shape most aspects of human activity, from commerce to transportation, from health to social networks, from experimental sciences to numerical engineering, from manufacturing to knowledge production and even art. The low-cost dissemination and manipulation of digital information makes it available to almost anyone, anywhere and has enabled the so-called digital revolution. The promise of this digital age is to foster a knowledge-rich society, aware of its environment and able to face the challenges of the 21st century.
Establishing a sustainable digital age is our main goal. Indeed, dependent as we are on digital technologies, we have yet to master them efficiently. DigiWorlds addresses this challenge through education, research and innovation activities focused on a few key areas.
Both the technology of computer systems and their use evolve at an extremely fast pace, to the point where they are now part of most personal and professional activities. In this context, providing every student − future scientist, engineer or manager − with an educated understanding of Information and Communication Sciences and Technologies (ICT) is a priority. DigiWorlds offers comprehensive ICT education at the undergraduate, Masters and PhD levels, taking advantage of rich interactions with the research labs, Grandes Ecoles and high-tech companies on the Campus de Saclay. Compared with the current French educational background in ICT, the goal is to introduce ICT fundamentals earlier and in more depth to reflect the growing of computer science in all areas, including science, engineering and management.
DigiWorlds addresses some key challenges of a sustainable digital age by focusing on three research action lines. The first one is the reliability of the digital world; the goal is to enforce its robustness with respect to hazardous or malicious failures (e.g., crashes, intrusions, large-scale fraud, breaches of privacy). The second one is the ability of digital worlds to actually deliver the expected results; the goal here is to ensure scalability and pervasive accessibility through distributed architectures. Formally, the challenge is to support the networking of data, algorithms and usage. The third is intelligence in digital worlds: while unprecedented amounts of data are available, efficient and smart mechanisms are needed to retrieve them, make sense of them, manipulate them through logical and statistical approaches, exploit them to create new knowledge, and, last but not least, enable users to interact with them in the most flexible, intuitive and efficient ways.
These three themes were selected for several reasons. First, Campus de Saclay features several research groups with world-class expertise in each of these themes. This will foster collaborations among academic partners as well as between academic and industry partners. This in turn offers solid perspectives for innovation and technology transfer towards SMEs. Second, they constitute the backbone of our ICT educational program.
Third, these themes are relevant to interdisciplinary projects in the framework of the IDEX Paris-Saclay. Namely, systems biology, medical imaging, ambient intelligence, and digital democracy have been selected in cooperation with the Maths, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Engineering and Humanities departments. These projects are relevant to the challenges in medicine, health, and information society identified in the IDEX. Other relevant interdisciplinary projects include e-science and energy policy. All these projects involve reliability, data-management, interaction and networking as key ingredients, and DigiWorlds will strive to establish an effective dialogue among the parties to bridge fundamental and applied issues.
Campus de Saclay provides an outstanding environment for innovation in ICT: on the one hand it gathers some of the main academic and industrial players in the domain; on the other hand, several national and European networking initiatives have already taken place in recent years.
Networking. At the national level, the Systematic cluster gathers 500+ high-tech players (140 large companies, 310 SMEs-SMIs and 90 research institutions) working on software-based systems in the greater Paris area. At the European level, Saclay is, together with Paris, the French core node of the European Institute of Technology ICTLabs, which fosters innovation and entrepreneurship in ICT through a virtuous circle between education, research and business.
Transfer. DigiWorlds will work with two new structures on Campus de Saclay devoted to technology transfer: The technological research institute (IRT) SystemX, dedicated to digital system engineering, fosters integration and transfer between public and industrial research, in particular at the doctoral level, in ICT; The mission of the SATT is to offer comprehensive support for innovation by providing advanced technology transfer services in all the areas covered by Campus de Saclay.
Human resources. CEA, CNRS and INRIA, the three main French public research institutes involved in ICT, have a significant number of researchers on Campus de Saclay. The best French Grandes Ecoles are also located on Campus de Saclay. They feature highly-trained students and very efficient social networks of alumni, thus offering excellent opportunities to transform scientific advances into innovative technologies, and new ideas into new products.
will also significantly contribute to innovation through its educational program in ICT, which will offer access to both research labs through its more fundamental courses and industry through its teaching and practice of entrepreneurship.
DigiWorlds will strengthen the integration of research currently undertaken by the partners through tools such as an annual conference, summer schools and industry days. The research action lines will be supported mainly by Masters+PhD funding, designed to be attractive at the national and international level. DigiWorlds will provide administrative help for the organization of undergraduate and Masters studies and will support pedagogical initiatives such as mini-courses by invited professors, access to research platforms, and innovation and entrepreneurship projects.
The DigiWorlds management structure comprises (i) a steering committee chaired by the DigiWorlds director, which sets the scientific strategy and policy and acts as a funding committee selecting the best proposals; (ii) a scientific council of select external members, which reviews the activity of the labex twice a year and proposes strategic orientations. The steering committee will form several boards, including managing board in charge of advertising and launching the DigiWorlds programmes and managing the evaluation process when applicable, and an education board in charge of educational matters during the transitory 2012-2015 period.
DigiWorlds involves the main ICT players on Campus de Saclay. It will play a leading role inside the ICT department of the IDEX Paris-Saclay to create a coherent and visible organization of research and education in this discipline. While it builds upon the integrated Digiteo network (RTRA), it differs from Digiteo in two respects: DigiWorlds is more focused than Digiteo as it addresses sustainable ICT through distributed programs, data and architectures; Unlike Digiteo, DigiWorlds features a comprehensive educational program related to its research topics.
The attractiveness of Campus de Saclay in the ICT domain is both a means and an end for DigiWorlds, as it creates a virtuous circle: the cooperation of world-class academic partners (Grandes Ecoles and University) will result in top-notch educational programs at both the national and international level; the presence of highly skilled students will attract and retain the best researchers; this will fuel bold projects, fostering innovation and technology transfer and attracting the best students.