Metro-Haul is Innovating

 In 2018, Blog, September

by Antonio D’Errico, Work Package 6 Innovation Lead


Innovation is an essential outcome of any Horizon 20-20 project. While research, dissemination, and standardisation have high value, the best results for the project partners and for the EU as a whole arise from the development of products, services, and sales activities that boost the long-term commercial standing of the partners and lead to increased business activity within the European Community as well as supporting growth in services and resources for the citizens.

Within the first period of the Metro-Haul project, activity has focused on finding new areas that provide commercial opportunities for innovation and fruitful commercial exploitation. Innovation opportunities will vary, and may include: generating innovative models and processes, technologies, ideas, marketing methods, services, and many others, with the goal of producing genuine benefits for stakeholders via business-related activities

The perspectives of the project partners towards commercial exploitation may vary considerably based on their different perspectives. The lager equipment manufacturers will aim to enhance their product portfolios built on a combination of existing products and the use of enabling techniques and technologies developed within the project. The network operators will seek to establish new ways of managing their networks to achieve more cost-effective operations and to deliver new services to their customers. The SMEs are looking to increase the breadth and depths of their skills so that they can engage as experts with a new range of customers. And the academic institutions want to add to their research by creating contributions to open source projects, developing opportunities for spin-out companies, increasing the employability of their graduates, and opening up new research fields and demonstrating academic thought leadership.

All partners are already expressing some initial ideas for innovation impact in the Metro-Haul project. We are collating this information to be shared between the partners and while this is current defined as “work in progress”, it will be updated continuously with both internal and external reports, and it will be harmonized in support of a functional vision for innovation in the project. This aspect represents the first part of innovation action in the project and gives indication on how the breath of the innovative solutions is expressed and highlighted.

A key aspect of Metro-Haul innovation is collaboration between industry and academia, as well as between network operators and equipment manufacturers. Significantly, the innovation results emerging from the first analysis are very encouraging. One of the first innovation results was presented by ADVA and British Telecom at Mobile World Congress, in Barcelona earlier this year. It highlighted joint work on how edge computing and network slicing techniques can enable emerging 5G applications to the advantage of operators and their own customers [1].

Metro-Haul innovation is fundamentally focused on business since it is intended to produce benefits for stakeholders. Partners will demonstrate that they are innovating only if they demonstrate high levels of technological expertise while paying attention to the business-related dimensions. For instance, a cool demo with some business relevance does not meet a clear definition of innovation. For Metro-Haul, the best practice for innovation is when inspiration comes first, with clear commercial exploitation, and is then followed up with typical business-related dimensions, including marketing.

Thus, Metro-Haul innovation management aims to report on the capabilities of partners (mainly the SMEs, system and equipment vendors, and operators) to transform novel technologies or research results into marketable products or services. The analysis will focus on high level grades of innovation and on the innovation environment of the partners, and will report on the commitment of relevant partners to exploit the proposed innovations.



  1. “Demonstration of multi-domain, multi-layer network for support of sliceable wholesale services for mobile network operators” – Presented at Mobile World Congress 2018
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