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IMDEA Networks Annual Reports | The Madrid Institute for Advanced Studies (IMDEA) Report

IMDEA Networks Annual Reports

The ultimate goal of IMDEA Networks is to produce high quality research results that contribute to a knowledge-based economy. Our strategy to transfer scientific and technological developments to industry over the last year has led to various new collaborations in addition to strengthening the existing partnerships with some of our key industrial collaborators. Our achievement on this front has been recognized by the Spanish Association of Telecommunication Engineers (AEIT), which awarded to IMDEA Networks the AEIT 2018 Award for Innovation. AEIT is the twin organization of the Spanish Official College of Telecommunication Engineers (COIT). It brings together over 8,000 members and is extremely well respected. This award recognizes IMDEA Network's contribution to a productive economy based on knowledge and technology arising from the field of telecommunications.

Building on our results of 2018, in the year ahead we look forward to making more impactful scientific discoveries, establishing fruitful collaborations, launching exciting new research initiatives and increasing our outreach, all in the interest of society.


The problems for which we are seeking solutions at IMDEA Networks are among the most fundamental that society is addressing today. Our work addresses the issues of data security and privacy. The current media frenzy around Facebook, Cambridge Analytica and the use of personal data is bringing home to everyone how relevant this subject is to us all. We pursue the vision of a world where pervasive mobile services are inalienable life enhancers, but users are fully guaranteed that the privacy of the personal data they share on digital platforms is preserved. To realize our vision, one of the institute’s research lines focuses on the understanding of privacy in the Internet and on the design of novel paradigms and solutions to achieve greater security and transparency.

But our quest for scientific advance does not stop there. We are also addressing the challenges of delivering healthcare to an ageing population; the question of how to provide an infrastructure that can allow citizens to move freely and safely around our cities; how to join up islands of automation in factories, offices and the home. These are some of the issues in which our partners and we are engaged. We believe our work is highly relevant to society, both today and in the coming years. Ultimately, it is this relevance as well as our effectiveness in helping to shape scientific and technological solutions to society’s problems that will ensure our future growth and success.

The Institute is currently engaged in the development of a new disruptive technology that is going to change the way we perceive and communicate with the surrounding world: 5G. With 5G, current reality will become a “connected reality”, where all people and objects are connected to each other, forming a single “whole”. Not only each of us will be permanently connected to our doctor, friends, work colleagues, clients/providers, security service, etc., but additionally we will also be connected to our car, fridge, favorite bakery, leisure shops, metro, airport, home, … any object that can be of our interest. And objects will be also connected to each other: a package may “complain” to its delivery company that the route taken is not right, or the heater may download a new software to become more efficient.

In order to realize this vision, we are working on extremely complex technological challenges. 5G will not only have to connect more than 7 billion of people (all people on Earth), but also around 1,000 objects for each one of them. Network capacity will have to increase by three orders of magnitude, as 5G networks will carry a volume of data 1,000 larger than 4G networks being deployed today. Energy consumption will also play a key role: if we increased capacity by a factor of 1,000 with current technology, energy consumption would be unaffordable. At the same time, 5G will have to satisfy extremely demanding service requirements. Massive uptake of machine-type traffic requires an unprecedented level of availability and reliability, of up to five nines (i.e., 99,999%). Furthermore, applications such as tactile Internet and vehicular communications require extremely low latencies and high data rates, several orders of magnitude beyond those provided by today’s network.

One of the most promising technologies where the networking research community is currently working on is that of 5G networks. 5G represents a change of paradigm for future networks, pushing for a revolutionary technology with the goal of satisfying new requirements in terms of throughput, latency and scalability for use cases as extreme as augmented reality or the connection of billions of devices.

Currently, Europe betting on 5G technology with a new partnership initiative: the 5G Public-Private-Partnership or 5GPPP. This initiative, which will deliver the technology for mobile communications of the coming decade, has an estimated budget of around 7 billion euro, jointly funded by the private sector and the European Commission. In line with this initiative, IMDEA Networks has a strong focus on this groundbreaking technology and has established itself as one of the world leaders in the area. To name just a few of our related activities, IMDEA Networks has coordinated the iJOIN project (which is one of the first flagship European projects in 5G), has been technical manager for the CROWD project (selected as one of the early 5G precursor projects) and is currently participating in two European projects of the 5GPPP.

One of the key challenges that the Internet is facing nowadays is the rapid growth in the volume of mobile data traffic. Current wireless systems already operate close to their theoretical limits which requires a solution so the demands of the rapidly increasing data traffic volume are met.

At IMDEA Networks we are working on one of the most promising options to address the above challenge which is to increase the communication bandwidth by using the extremely high frequency band of the radio spectrum: the millimeter wave band (mm-wave). While able to support data rates that are several orders of magnitude larger than those of today’s networks, communication at such high frequencies is very challenging. It requires radically different mobile network architectures and protocols that can deal with such a dynamic environment where channels may appear and disappear over very short time intervals. Investigating efficient communication paradigms for extremely high frequency networks is a primary research focus for the Institute.This research will have a profound impact on future mobile and wireless communications’ products and solutions.

IMDEA Networks is focusing on an area that has a profound impact on people’s lives. The widespread access to networks (Internet, social networks, cellular, Wi-Fi, etc.) has drastically changed the way manufacturers produce and supply their goods, how public administrations operate, how professionals work and, in general, how individuals and society at large communicate. The recent proliferation of mobile handheld devices with 3G and 4G data access has revolutionized information access, making the notion of network access everywhere and anytime a reality. Far from stabilizing, the networked socio-economic phenomenon continues to transform our everyday life at an amazing pace. One of the most attractive new research areas is that of fifth-generation cellular networks (5G), which intends to deliver solutions, architectures, technologies and standards to create ICT infrastructure and intelligent communication networks that are ubiquitous, robust, flexible, interoperable and cost effective. This technology thus promises a new revolution in the way data is accessed from mobile devices, providing much higher capacities and enabling a plethora of new services and applications.

Over the past years, IMDEA Networks Institute has succeeded in putting together a team of top scientists that is contributing to boost Madrid’s competitiveness as a technology- oriented region. IMDEA Networks is bringing substantial external funds to the region with its research contracts and projects: since its creation, it has been awarded a total of 9.6 M€ from competitive funds, out of which 1,158 K€ were budgeted for 2012. Such funds not only strengthen the technology profile of the region, but ultimately also contribute to its GDP. Furthermore, IMDEA Networks’ collaboration with local companies is helping to enhance Madrid’s high-tech output with cutting edge research findings. We believe that it is precisely by focusing on the development and manufacturing of products and services incorporating the most advanced technologies, and thus increasing their competitiveness, that Spain may efficiently combat the current economic crisis and make its mark on the 21st Century.

This year has further consolidated IMDEA Networks Institute as a pre-eminent internationally recognized research Institute, achieving excellence in the development of the science of networks. 2011 has been a great year in a number of ways. Our strategy to transfer scientific and technological developments and knowledge to industry and, ultimately, society, has led to various new collaborations with industrial partners to create products and services, in addition to strengthening the existing ones. We have also been very successful in several highly competitive public calls to secure funding to conduct new research projects. Through our extremely selective recruitment process we were able to attract outstanding scientists to strengthen our research team. Our research work - focused on innovative technological solutions to real-world problems - has been published in the most prestigious venues within our field. All these achievements have received the recognition of the scientific community as well as our stakeholders.

IMDEA Networks is fast becoming a pre-eminent internationally-recognized research Institute, achieving excellence in the development of the science of networks. 2010 has been a great year for us in a number of ways. Our international call for researchers has delivered a choice set of incoming team members from a broad poll of applicants, after an extremely selective recruitment program. We have been awarded funding to conduct new projects following highly competitive open selection processes and we have completed others with outstanding grades. IMDEA Networks research activities are focused on providing disruptive technological solutions to real-world problems. Our strategy to transfer scientific and technological developments and knowledge to industry and, ultimately, society has been realized through formalized collaboration ag reements with industrial partners targeted to the creation of products and services. Our publications have been issued in top venues, having also found an echo in the mass media. The scientific community and our stakeholders, including the Spanish public, are aware and listening. We still have a lot to give. We are growing. And we are willing.

The Madrid Institutes for Advanced Studies Report

This document covers the activity of the first years of these centres for advanced research, which were created by the Government of the Community of Madrid to help fulfill its commitment to "Making Madrid a place for Science and Technology”.
After the accomplishments achieved in just five years, in the near future we will witness the consolidation of the IMDEA Institutes. In this new phase we all will work to bolster R&D in the region. We will bring together high quality researchers from across the world in installations that are equipped with excellent resources and facilities, and we will promote an even closer collaboration with industry. In the midterm, our hope is that the IMDEA Institutes become an international reference in their respective scientific fields.