The UCN@Sophia research program is dedicated to User-Centric Networks. It was awarded by the French Ministry for Research and Higher Education through the competitive call « Laboratory of Excellence » (Labex) in the context of the government fund for « Investments for future » in 2012. The program is running over 8 years (2012-2019). It was granted a total budget of 5.5 M€.


The Labex (or Laboratories of Excellence) result of two call for proposals launched in 2010 and 2011 by the French National Research Agency (ANR). They aim at developing significant resources research units with international visibility, enabling them to compete with their foreign counterparts to attract researchers and teacher-researchers internationally renowned and building an integrated high level policy of research, training and development.

The willingness of the Ministry of Education and Research is that " these projects benefit, beyond the only world of the research, the industrial community through new partnerships between public research laboratories and companies ".

The objectives of these Labex are:

  • to improve the international visibility of French research by improving their scientific quality and originality, knowledge transfer
  • to guaranty the excellence of their academic training by a strong implication in postgraduate programmes (master’s degree and doctorates)
  • to integrate and reinforce the local and international strategies of their host institutions.



The Labex UCN@Sophia gathers units of research aroud a common vision which positions the user in the centre of the network. This vision is the result of the new paradigm of the digital emerging society:

In spite of the explosion of the number of connected devices and of the volume of available information, large heterogeneity of network infrastructures, data interchange protocols and final usages, the network is paradoxically reduced, from the final user perspective, to the computer or the mobile phone he uses to reach its contents. The network must be able to guarantee a sufficient quality of experience and meet in a transparent way the user's expectations:

  • The possibility to identify relevant and trustful information.
  • A high-performance network access despite the tremendous growing demand for network capacity.
  • Control and confidentiality of his personnal data
  • The environmental impact management

Thus user-centric networks aim at sparing the user from the network technical complexity to focus on the services he expects, such as:

  1. Delivery of smart search capability, in an accessible, efficient and secured network.
  2. Accessibility and performance improvement, with programming methods adaptable to both regular applications and new « mega-services ».
  3. Confidentiality of data and user needs; Fair sharing of network bandwidth among users with minimal quality of services.
  4. Developing high-performance, autonomous wired and wireless network infrastructures.
  5. Lowering network power consumption both for societal (avoid natural resources waste) and personal (battery duration) reasons.


This "laboratory of excellence" project is an opportunity for us to redefine the research program we wish to collectively lead, within the framework of the ICT campus. The research program we propose not only corresponds to a continuation of the work already carried out by each of the teams involved (which already have a strong international recognition), providing them with the credibility needed for its pursuit, but can also be considered as a significant breakthrough in the field. We indeed wish to collectively meet these challenges. The bringing together of researchers, working on different but complementary approaches to each topic, will enable us to reach global solutions to highly complex and challenging problems. Finally, this project will result in significant innovations of great interest to our industrial partners.
Johan Montagnat, Labex Scientific and technical coordinator