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Banknote research and development – cooperation opportunities with the ECB

Call for submission of research proposals on a digital euro

Submission deadline: 14 December 2020

Keeping euro banknotes secure

The ECB, like all central banks, has a duty to safeguard the integrity of its banknote security. Euro banknotes must therefore incorporate effective security features that are easily recognisable to the public. Further, the ECB must remain technologically ahead of counterfeiters by continuously improving these features for use in both current and future euro banknotes. Accordingly, the ECB manages, coordinates and funds a wide variety of research projects being conducted in the public and private sectors.

Fields of funded research

The ECB seeks to foster and benefit from research and development in the following fields:

  • security features that can be applied to banknotes
  • banknote production technology
  • banknote processing/handling technology

Funded research projects can cover a wide range of technologies and have varying durations and budgets. They may range from market analyses and short-term feasibility studies, to longer-term development projects and industrial printing trials for new banknote security features.

Who is eligible for funding?

The ECB invites commercial companies, research institutes and other professional parties that are competent in the technological areas of interest to submit project proposals. Residence in the EU is not a precondition.

How to contact us about your R&D project proposal

If you have a product or concept that you think may be of interest to the ECB for use in euro banknotes, send a short description (maximum three A4 pages) of your project proposal in English using this form to BN-Development@ecb.europa.eu. To protect any communications, you can also use our PGP encryption. Please download the public key for the project submission. You will generally receive a reply within one month.

If your proposal is of interest to the ECB, we will, in order to safeguard confidentiality, enter into a non-disclosure agreement and send you a request for further details. These are to be provided following a standard submission template and guidelines, as used for all ECB-funded projects.

Call for submission of research proposals on a digital euro

The ECB is also currently studying the potential issuance of a digital euro. While no decision has been taken yet and the public consultation is ongoing, the complexity of this endeavour requires an early investigation of many concepts and options and some experimental work before taking a formal decision. Thorough research and experimentation is required to inform but not prejudge eventual policy decisions.

In this context, to complement our own central bank expertise on these topics we would appreciate input from a wide range of experts in academia and industry that have experience addressing the following general requirements:

  • Support offline transactions for both peer-to-peer (P2P) and person-to-business (P2B)
  • Interchangeability of funds within different forms of the digital euro, cash and commercial payment systems
  • Managing privacy features
  • Secure/resilience against integrity attacks
  • Ease of use/inclusive
  • Low per-unit cost of production

If you are interested in supporting the ECB's efforts in this area, please submit your research proposal (max. 2 pages) to BN-Development@ecb.europa.eu by 14 December 2020. The proposal must discuss at least one of the aforementioned general requirements, describing how you would address the related technical issues arising from the relevant requirement(s).

The ECB will select a small number of institutes or companies to develop their proposals and submit a report and – if possible – a proof of concept by mid-March 2021.

The selection will be based on the aforementioned general requirements, with the aim to establish a small number of different contracts to comprehensively cover all requirements. In addition the ECB will take into account their track record in delivering digital solutions, in particular for payment applications, and the innovativeness of their solution.

The ECB will conclude contracts with the selected partners for the work, remuneration for which will be capped at €20,000 per awarded contract.