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Research and innovation

Horizon prize for seamless authentication for all

What the prize was, why it was needed, rules, who to contact

What is the prize

Simple, secure and privacy-friendly authenticating method for people and their smart objects to prove their identity, relationship and privileges.

In the era of Internet of Things (IoT), people (of all ages, physical capabilities and educational backgrounds) and their smart objects (e.g. smart mobile devices and household appliances, wearable gadgets, smart cars) often need to authenticate, i.e prove their relationships, identities and privileges. The current technologies and processes to authenticate are complex, bringing burden to people who want to build a trusted chain with their smart objects in order to interact with the IoT ecosystems and use digital services holistically.

This Horizon Prize aims to award the best and most innovative user authentication solutions, with a total budget of 4M EUR, offering 3 (three) awards as follows:

  • 2 800 000 EUR for the winner(s)
  • 700 000 EUR for the 1st runner-up
  • 500 000 EUR for the 2nd runner-up

The winning solutions will be innovative methods that will enable everyone and their smart objects to seamlessly authenticate themselves across a wide range of applications and devices in IoT and cloud ecosystems. The solutions should be easy to use, reliable, robust against cyber-attacks, privacy-friendly, compatible with widely used technologies and affordable. They should be also open enough so that they could be easily audited, enhanced, tailored, developed and/or integrated. In addition, they should be ready to benefit a wide range of the EU population, from healthy to impaired citizens of all ages. Therefore they will be in line with the Next Generation Internet (NGI) Initiative, which aims to shape a human-centric, trustworthy and more intelligent online environment.

This prize also complements the activities of the Cybersecurity contractual Private Public Partnership (cPPP) , which aims to develop Europe's strengths in cybersecurity and digital privacy.

Why this prize?

Traditional user authentication methods (e.g. password, PKI – Public Key Infrastructure certificates, biometrics) need to be replaced or strengthened when strong protection of data is needed. Multi-factor authentication responds to this need. But the increased security of multi-factor authentication has come at the price of even more complication and frustration for individuals, exposing them to various privacy and security risks.

In the IoT era, smart objects (e.g. smart mobile devices and household appliances, wearable gadgets, smart cars) get connected, operate in the Internet and interact with each other via sensors and/or Radio Frequency Identification Devices (RFIDs) and they are usually authenticated based upon software and hardware approaches that utilise device-specific information.

The contest aims to stimulate further research and innovation within the European Union in authentication appropriate for IoT and cloud ecosystems where all people and their smart objects become trust domestic circles that authenticate and interact securely. The contest has the ultimate goal of fostering the widespread adoption and access of services and products provided within the Digital Single Market where cyber security, privacy and liability are the priorities.


The expected result is an innovative authentication solution that enables citizens and their smart objects to seamlessly authenticate themselves across a wide range of applications and devices in IoT and cloud ecosystems. The solution should also overcome the shortfalls of existing authentication technologies including challenges of group authentication (multiple users authenticating e.g. to the same smart objects). This prize will lead to a potentially significant breakthrough in the field of group authentication which would ultimately find their way into human-centric IoT and cloud ecosystems.


The call for submission run from 28 September 2017 to 27 September 2018.

Rules and guidance

Who can join the contest?

The proposed solution should fulfil the following minimum requirements:

  • Independently of technological choices (e.g. biometrics, PKIs, wearable computing devices, ear-electroencephalography signal readers, brain computing interfaces), relevant standards for design, development, implementation and testing need to be followed as much as possible as well as technology-related relevant standards (e.g. for biometrics: the ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 37, ISO-19795) whenever applicable
  • Compliance with relevant EU legislation (e.g. eIDAS, NIS Directive, GDPR) should be demonstrated

The prize will be awarded to the entry that in the opinion of the jury demonstrates a solution that best addresses the following nine (9) cumulative criteria:

  • Significant contribution
  • Usability
  • Reliability
  • Security
  • Privacy and data protection
  • Applicability
  • Compatibility
  • Affordability
  • Openness

Read the detailed rules of the contest

Consult the FAQs


For more information or any questions you might have please cnect-a2-prizeatec [dot] europa [dot] eu (contact us)