A glimpse into what the EU is shaping for the future of Internet 

A glimpse into what the EU is shaping for the future of Internet 

This week, Alex and Manon went to Brussels to join the NGI Forum. In a nutshell, NGI is a European funding program developed to foster innovation using open-source technologies towards the Internet of tomorrow. 

NGI aims to build an Internet that responds to people’s fundamental needs, including trust, security, and inclusion, while reflecting the values and the norms all citizens enjoy in Europe.

To reach these goals NGI has structured and is animating a diverse Call for projects.

This event is held once a year and aims to gather anyone interested in the Next Generation Internet including public policymakers, innovators, non-profits, and corporations from all over Europe to discuss the progress made towards the future of the Internet and the challenges encountered.

The perfect place to share good practices and opinions to learn together
towards the building of tomorrow’s Internet. 

We indeed met a lot of very interesting people, passionate about their projects and making an impact to change society for the better.

During the event, we had the privilege to be selected among 5 projects to showcase the work of our beautiful community and explain our laureate projects funded by NGI and NLNet: Search-a-licious, Privacy-preserving personal search and Folksonomy engine. ⚙️

Alex Garel, software engineer at Open Food Facts, presenting our project during the NGI Forum.

The goal of our project, called Search-a-licious, is to improve the search functionality in Open Food Facts to allow everyone to consult and/or reuse the Open Food Facts database with more ease. With not only more filters and sorting options but also boosted with AI to accompany the users by making suggestions in the search journey. To learn more about Search-a-licious, check out our blog article about it. 👀

The NGI Forum was very rich, we made a lot of amazing connections and learned a lot through workshops and plenary sessions. The sessions are available in replays via this link. It was also a perfect opportunity to catch up with Open Food Facts’ brand new Belgium ambassadors April and Ben, a couple of high-profile digital professionals passionate about food, and sustainability and who are determined to have a positive impact on our world. 🌎

April & Ben at the Open Food Facts days in October 2023 in Paris.

Our key takeaways from the Forum:

Challenges 💪

  • The Open Source community is expressing financial struggles to thrive: many developers are working hard for a small or no salary at all.
  • Another financial challenge for the Open Source community is that today most programs are funding specific projects, which is fostering innovation but omits the fact that to build reliable and secure Open Source software developers need to spend a large amount of time maintaining, testing, and writing a future-proof code. Likewise, a lack of funds for activities related to day-to-day management like accounting, communication etc.
  • The adoption of Open Source software by the public is slow for many reasons: the lack of communication and therefore public awareness; the quality of the UX which can be less appealing than big tech products, playing with 100 times more means. 

Opportunities 🚀

  • The European Commission is willing to invest in and support Open Source initiatives: a budget of 27 Million euros is going to be dedicated to help the development of new Open Source initiatives in the next few years.
  • This event confirms that AI is going to take a major role in tomorrow’s Internet.
  • Financing Open Source is clearly a win-win for Europe, supporting sovereignty, and favouring inclusion. It enables making a human-centric Internet possible.
  • NGI program has already shown incredible results with very fast delivery, less than 12 months for many projects while typical European projects only deliver after 3 to 4 years.
  • Digital commons are a very important topic for a democratic society.

NGI Forum was a huge success and we’re grateful to be part of this community of innovators with strong ethical values, working hard to build an Internet where humans are central.

We’ll gladly join again next year and we invite everyone interested in Open Source to join too! 👋

Huge thanks to the NGI Search consortium team and to NLNet for their support – we’re very excited about what’s to come next! 🧡