The Trust and Identity Incubator is a novel way of working with new and potentially disruptive T&I topics in the GN4-3 project. The scope of the Incubator is not only on topics that focus on technical aspects, but may also include other areas around service development and improvement, such as business case development, improvements in privacy and data protection, etc. During the course of the GN4-3 project, the Incubator will run a number of sequential iterations called cycles, which typically last 6 months. For each cycle, multiple Activities are chosen during which a team focuses on a specific topic with-well defined scope and goals. Once an activity is selected for a cycle, it becomes part of the T&I Incubator Development Process. This document describes how new topics are introduced in an activity cycle and how evaluation of the topics is carried out.


It is the role of the Incubator to engage with new, yet relevant topics in the field of Trust and Identity for the Research and Education community.
New ideas are introduced by a proposer, who describes the idea in such detail that it can be shared and understood. The Incubator provides a template for recording such new ideas. In this template the proposer is asked to describe various aspects of the idea, including:

  • The problem it seeks to resolve.
  • Relevant stakeholders.
  • Technical details.
  • Impact on privacy and data protection.
  • A potential business case.
  • How the idea may be sustained in case it becomes a service.

Depending on the idea and its maturity, it may not yet be possible to answer all of the above questions with the same level of detail.

Proposers of new ideas may include participants of the T&I Work Package (WP5) e.g. service owners, task and team leads and other participants, members of the Main Incubator Board (MIB) etc. In general, other GÉANT project stakeholders such as NRENs may also suggest new topics. In all cases, the topic objective must be clear, sufficiently novel and potentially disruptive and as such cannot be developed as part of the regular service improvement work that is already taking place in the service delivery tasks of the Trust and Identity Work Package. When a proposed topic is related to a service delivered in the T&I Work Package it is expected that the work in the incubator will be done in close collaboration between the service team and the Incubator, where service teams are one of the activity stakeholders. In the case of topics suggested by NRENs, it is required that such suggestions be submitted  by at least two collaborating NRENs, who must also provide one or more Principal Investigators (PIs) to the Activity (the PI’s time will be supported through the Incubator).

The Incubator collects all topic proposals in what is known as the activity pipeline. During each preparation phase for the next incubator cycle, the topics in the activity pipeline are evaluated by the Main Incubator Board (MIB). MIB representatives will evaluate and discuss the topics in the pipeline and provide feedback on their suitability and priority. The Work Package Leaders and the Incubator Task Leader will use this input to select new topics for the upcoming activity cycle.

Selected topics are then moved into the current activity cycle and the work on the activities is carried out using the T&I Incubator Development Process. During the development process, monthly intermediate results are showcased in Sprint Demos. PIs, MIBs, and other stakeholders or interested parties are welcome to join these meetings to provide feedback on the results so far.

After an activity cycle ends, the results are evaluated, based on which a decision is made on whether to continue an activity and how it should be followed up, for example:

  • The Activity is continued, but with a different focus. The topic, with its new focus, is described in a template, and added to the activity pipeline.
  • The Results of the Activity are used for a (new) service delivered in the Trust & Identity Work Package. Depending on size and impact, a service owner may want to introduce the results in a new feature for the service and using the GÉANT PLM process where applicable. This is out of scope for the T&I Incubator.
  • The Activity is moved out of the GN4-3project to be continued as a separate (open source) software project.
  • The Activity is stopped and will not be continued. 

Figure 1 presents a more detailed view of the various steps in an Activity.

Figure 1: Incubator activity steps and artifacts

Roles & Responsibilities

The following roles are important in the T&I Incubator planning and review process.

Main Incubator Board (MIB)

The MIB aims to represent a broad view on Trust and Identity related developments in R&E.  MIB members are senior subject matter experts from the European NREN trust and identity community. In addition, the MIB currently also includes a member from a non-EU NREN (Internet2), a university CIO and a representative of the research communities. They will evaluate new ideas and provide advice to the work package lead. They are also responsible for reviewing activities at the end of each incubator cycle and providing recommendations on how to proceed.

Incubator Team

The incubator team  will help the proposer formulate their idea and pitch it to the MIB. Although the MIB gives recommendations regarding proposed topics and whether they are fit to be included in an activity cycle, the final decision on this is made by the task leader. 


A person who proposes an idea for a potential activity to the Incubator. A proposer can be any T&I community member backed by at least two NRENs or one of the members of the MIB.

Activity Steps

Propose Idea (APT-BUILD)

New topics may be proposed as described. This is an ongoing process which may happen at any time during the various phases in the Incubator.
A proposer describes a new idea for the Incubator. The idea is captured in the activity pipeline by filling in the Incubator Topic Template.

Information Gathering (APT-GET)

About two months before the start of a new Incubator Activity Cycle, the Incubator pipeline is temporarily frozen. Information on all topics in the activity pipeline is validated and, if needed, completed.

Pitch & Discuss Idea (APT check)

MIB members first individually review and prioritise topics in the activity pipeline. The pipeline items are then discussed by the MIB in an Incubator Board Meeting.
The discussion yields feedback on proposals and priorities , which is consolidated into   recommendations f that will be considered when selecting topics to be included in the new activity cycle.

Topic Selection

The topics for the new activity cycle are selected by the Trust and Identity Work Package Leader and Incubator Task Leader. Selection typically follows the recommendations of the MIB, however deviations may occur for operational reasons, e.g. in case of inability to resource certain topics.

Prepare Activity (APT Install)

In the preparatory phase of an activity, the Incubator Task Leader will:

  • Identify a Principal Investigator (PI).
  • Identify a Mentor.
  • Assign the Activity to a team.
  • Assess if the skillset of the team is aligned with the subject matter.

The above roles are described in more detail in the  T&I Incubator Development Process.

Following this, it is the responsibility of the PI to describe the Activity Backlog tasks, including acceptance criteria. This initial backlog is based on the activity description and shall include at least all tasks necessary to implement a minimum viable product according to the Activity’s goals.The Backlog will consist of a number of tasks that have been defined in such detail that they can be acted upon by the team directly ('stories'). The Backlog will also contain less detailed  tasks that will need further definition as the sprints progress ('epics').

Onboard New Activities

Once a new cycle starts, the team will start working on the prepared activities. A kick-off meeting will be held in which the PI presents the idea, concept and initial backlog to the team. The team ensures that the Backlog is sufficiently prepared and understood to be used in the first Sprint Planning. The team agrees on meeting slots and tools, if necessary. 


Each activity cycle consists of six sprints, each generating a new activity increment. The process for a single sprint is described in the T&I Incubator Development Process.

Discuss Existing Activities

Once the last sprint of an activity cycle is completed, all activities are reviewed by the MIB. The results of an Activity will be presented comprehensively in the last Sprint Demo by the respective PI. Following this, the MIB discusses and recommends how to proceed with the Activity.

There are three possible outcomes to a completed activity once an activity cycle is completed:

  • Transfer Activity
    The Activity is mature enough to be moved out of the Incubator to another (service) task, to the community that requested it etc.. See 4.9 for further details.
  • Continue Activity
    If the Activity is not mature enough to be transferred, it may be granted another Incubator cycle, so it is proposed as a new topic in the activity pipeline. The proposed topic has to achieve new goals and might be led by a different PI.
  • Stop Activity
    It is decided that the Activity will be discontinued, either because it was a one-time project, or because the idea did not produce the expected results or the results failed to convince the MIB. The results of the Activity and in this case the reasons for its termination are documented.

The task leader might define an alternative procedure if necessary for specific cases.

Transfer Activity

The results of successfully completed activities maybe transferred internally (to other GN4-3 tasks) or externally.

Internal transfer:

  • Transferred to another GN4-3 task;
  • Approval of work package and task leader of the target WP/Task is necessary;
  • Handover of:
    • All results produced;
    • Comprehensive documentation; 
    • Introduction to the results delivered by the team responsible.

External transfer:

  • Transferred to any external party, for example another project, to an open source software project or perhaps another organisation to take care of the resulting artifacts.
  • Needs to be approved by WP5 Leaders.

Once the handover is completed, the Incubator Task is no longer responsible for the activity. Any later requests regarding the Activity are out of scope unless reintroduced as a new topic within the activity pipeline.

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