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ERC Grant awarded to Computer Scientist Joerg Widmer for visionary research on wireless communication

IMDEA Networks Institute

Computer Scientist and Research Professor, Dr. Joerg Widmer, from the Institute IMDEA Networks in Madrid (Spain), has received a 1.7 million Euro ERC Consolidator Grant awarded by the European Research Council (ERC). ERC grants are the most valuable individual grants for researchers in Europe and a major indicator of excellence in scientific research. In November, Joerg Widmer was also awarded a Ramón y Cajal Grant. This highly competitive program from the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness awards research funding on merit of scientific achievements. Both results confirm the exceptional quality and outreach of research on future network technologies at IMDEA Networks.

In addition to the existing ERC Starting Grants, this year the ERC for the first time awards ERC Consolidator Grants for more senior researchers, with seven to twelve years research experience. Competitive applicants must have already shown a high potential for independent research and evidence of scientific maturity. Scientific excellence in fundamental research is the sole criterion for the selection of proposals by a panel of international experts. ERC grants have been operating since 2007 and aim to support internationally recognized scientists performing cutting-edge research in Europe. The projects awarded are characterized by having a strong multidisciplinary nature and innovative applications in emerging fields.

A novel communications architecture for a connected world

Dr. Widmer, who is group leader for the wireless networking research line at IMDEA Networks, and thus responsible for directing and coordinating wireless research, has received this grant to conduct a research project that will lead to the advancement of wireless communication and the improvement of its scalability, ubiquity and energy efficiency. His research is aligned with IMDEA Networks’ leading role in European research on mobile communications, exemplified by IMDEA Networks’ membership in the Steering Committee of the European Technology Platforms Net!Works and ISI, which are responsible for the IT program “Horizon 2020 Advanced 5G Network Infrastructure for Future Internet PPP”. This program, known briefly as "5G PPP", is intended to deliver solutions, architectures, technologies and standards to create ICT infrastructure and intelligent communication networks that are ubiquitous, robust, flexible, interoperable and cost effective.

Dr. Widmer intends to use the 1.7-million-Euro grant over a five year period for researching a fundamentally novel communication paradigm for future very high speed wireless networks, to deal with the massive growth of Internet traffic that is delivered wirelessly, probably the most remarkable communications phenomenon of recent years. He explained that “the current scenario requires a radical rethinking of wireless networking”. State-of-the-art wireless communication already operates close to maximum capacity and the only viable option to further increase data rates is to increase the communication bandwidth. Thus, his research project - named ‘SEARCHLIGHT’ - is intended to develop wireless technologies in high frequency bands, such as the unlicensed 60GHz band. “We propose to design and build a wireless network architecture that is a key element for the scalability of future wireless communications”, stated Dr. Widmer. “In analogy to the evolution of wired Ethernet from a shared medium to a fully switched network, we envision that future wireless networks will consist of many highly directional LOS (line-of-sight) channels for communication between access points (APs) and end devices”.

In November 2012, another researcher, Dr. Dejan Kostić, joined IMDEA Networks bringing with him a highly valued ERC Starting Grant. “We are very excited about these awards,” says the Director of the Institute, Prof. Dr. Arturo Azcorra. “Joerg Widmer has achieved outstanding research results over a four year period. This ERC Consolidator grant offers him the best opportunity to successfully carry on with his research. The fact that two of our researchers have been awarded two of the most greatly prized European grants is a notable recognition of the scientific and technical potential of our researchers.”

About Joerg Widmer - Leading advanced telecommunications research

Since September 2010, Joerg Widmer is at Institute IMDEA Networks where he is a tenured Research Professor and the Research Strategy Manager. From June 2005 to July 2010, he was manager of the Ubiquitous Networking Research Group at DOCOMO Euro-Labs in Munich, Germany, working on several projects in the area of wired and wireless networking. Before joining DOCOMO Euro-Labs, he was senior researcher in the group of Prof. Jean-Yves Le Boudec at EPFL. There, his main research focus was on UWB networks and MAC layer design as well as network coding in wireless networks. Joerg Widmer received his M.S. and PhD degrees in computer science from the University of Mannheim, Germany in 2000 and 2003, respectively. In 1999 and 2000 he was a visiting researcher at the ICSI Center for Internet Research in Berkeley, CA, USA.

Joerg Widmer’s current research is in the area of computer networks and covers wireless communication, mobile networks, MAC layer design, interference management, network coding, and energy efficient networking.