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The Sovereign Tech Fund launches funding: an investment in Europe’s digital sovereignty
Starting today, seven open source projects will receive support from the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action through the Sovereign Tech Fund (STF) for their work on open source digital enabling technologies. The projects will be presented at a launch event opened byDr Franziska Brantner, Parliamentary State Secretary in the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action. They form an important basis for online security and data protection, and facilitate independent and resilient digital infrastructure. The projects will be funded with a total of one million euros until the end of 2022. Further funding has been allocated in the 2023 draft budget.
Dr Franziska Brantner, Member of the German Bundestag and Parliamentary State Secretary in the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action, said, “In the Sovereign Tech Fund, we have developed a new instrument with which we can effectively invest in Europe’s digital sovereignty using secure, sustainable and resilient open source enabling technologies. The fund was developed in co-creation with the open source community and can respond flexibly to the needs of the users. It is to be consolidated and scaled up in the coming years.”
Relevance of open source digital enabling technologies
Thus far, little support has gone into the cultivation of open source digital enabling technologies. Often, this digital infrastructure only gains visibility in the event of major security vulnerabilities, such as e.g. Java library Log4j in December 2021. The STF will make targeted investments in the maintenance of enabling technologies in the public interest. This programme thus complements other innovation-driven funding programmes in a valuable way.
Adriana Groh, co-founder of the STF, said, “Open source digital enabling technologies form the basis of a digital civil society, economy and modern administration. Innovation won’t work without functioning infrastructure.” Fiona Krakenbürger, co-founder of the STF, said, “This pilot round makes a small contribution to the sustainability of these important projects and we hope to do more in the coming years.”
The pilot round will highlight initial examples of the relevance of digital enabling technologies and the STF will be further enhanced based on the knowledge gained. The projects were selected, in consultation with experts, on the basis of their reach in application, their criticality for digital infrastructure and the current undersupply of maintenance.
To start with, the following projects will receive funding:
OpenMLS The OpenMLS library is an open source implementation of the Messaging Layer Security protocol developed by the Internet Engineering Taskforce (IETF). It enables applications to provide end-to-end encryption of messages and focuses on performance, interoperability and security.
Curl Curl is an open source tool used to transfer data. The library behind it, libcurl, is one of the most used libraries in the world. Curl can be used extremely flexibly to transfer data and is therefore needed and used in all possible areas: from software in cars or in modems to numerous web applications and smartphones.
OpenBGPd The internet is a network of networks. The Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) exists so that they can communicate with each other. OpenBGPd is an open source implementation of BGP that allows anyone to participate in the internet and exchange routes with other BGP providers. Using the OpenBGPd software, normal computers can function as routers, enabling independence from proprietary hardware and the associated risks.
Bundler/RubyGems The programming language Ruby is very widely used today, partly due to its flexibility. RubyGems manages the packages needed for Ruby programming; bundler is a tool that greatly simplifies the use of these “gems” for applications. Many leading companies and open source applications rely on the smooth functioning and security of bundler and RubyGems.
Wireguard WireGuard is an open source software that enables the setup of a virtual private network (VPN) through an encrypted connection, based on the VPN protocol of the same name. It is considered the most secure and performant VPN protocol and is characterised by readability and simplicity, which creates additional security in application. WireGuard is extremely flexible, and can therefore be used on various operating systems. In 2020, it was firmly integrated into the Linux kernel.
OpenSSH OpenSSH is a widely-used, open source implementation of the SSH protocol. The tool allows users to establish encrypted and authenticated connections to remote systems over the internet. The integration of the SSH File Transfer Protocol also allows the secure transfer of files. For example, OpenSSH is used to connect a local computer to a web server and administer it. This application is of interest to almost every company and organisation equipped with an IT infrastructure.
The STF supports the development, improvement and maintenance of open digital infrastructure. The aim is to strengthen network sovereignty in the long-term, i.e. the self-determined use of digital technologies and systems by individuals, industry and governments. This cannot be achieved without an open source ecosystem. The Sovereign Tech Fund’s projects are regularly selected according to the proposal of the 2021 feasibility study (available atwww.sovereigntechfund.de/en).