Medal award 2019

The 2019 Medal of Honour was awarded to Claudio Allocchio, senior technical officer for advanced applications and security at GARR, for the demonstrated achievements and long-lasting benefit he contributed to the research and education networking community throughout his career. John Dyer, member of the Board of Trustees of the Vietsch Foundation handed out the medal to Claudio Allocchio during a ceremony on 17 June 2019 at the TNC opening plenary.

The Vietsch Foundation Medal is awarded annually to individuals or teams that have developed new ideas as well as to those who have proved their organisational skills and whose efforts have led to the creation of institutions or services of long-term value.

In accepting the award, Claudio Allocchio said, “this is the most honorable award I could have received for my work, because it is in the name of Karel Vietsch, which I had the privilege to work together for so many years”.

Claudio Allocchio

Claudio Allocchio was born in 1959 in Crema, Italy where he attended high school. He had a clear interest in science, and technology, which in those years led him to coordinate a team of students who successfully built and launched a series of rockets. He then moved to Trieste, where he studied astrophysics and particle physics. In 1984 he won a study grant at CERN to apply astronomy image processing techniques to particle physics detectors track reconstruction, and then was confirmed as research fellow. At that time, he approached computer networking issues, creating the world first multiprotocol mail gateway service for universal messaging: “by pure coincidence” the user interface to access the global service was named GMAIL. He also started there to collaborate in creating network services in the High-Energy Physics community, and setup the first international link between CERN and Italy. In 1988 he moved back to Trieste, as network manager in the newly created Elettra Synchrotron Radiation facility, and joined the Gruppo Armonizzazione per le Reti della Ricerca (GARR) who later became the Italian NREN, and engaged in RARE WG1 mail and messaging, coordinating and later chairing the COSINE S2.2 proposal for a global messaging service. In 1991, Claudio was one of the RARE WG1 members who joined the IETF to standardize mail messaging systems, and since then was involved in the IETF Application Area, writing, editing and revising a significant number of RFCs. He also chaired some working groups, including the ietf-fax one, and took active part in all activities which involved messaging and real time communications. He was later called into the Application Area Directorate, and chaired it before the creation of the joint Applications and Real Time (ART) new area.  Starting in 1993 he was also involved in the creation of the “it” ccTLD domain Registry, and served as President of the Italian Naming Authority from 1995 to 2005 and advisor to Ministry of Communication domain names committee; he is  now a member of the ccTLD Registry Advisory Board. Claudio has worked in various roles in all GÉANT projects (including as Security Coordinator and as member of activities in the areas of multimedia, security, policy); he is currently also one of the main advisors for the EaPConnect project. He also was TERENA vice-president for technical programme from 2001 until 2007 and member of the board. In 2005 he started to work in the collaboration with Conservatorio Tartini in Trieste, where he is currently chief network engineer for LoLa development. Besides his education in Physics, he also has a formal education in music (piano).

Medal award 2018

The Vietsch Foundation Medal of Honour is awarded annually to individuals or teams that have developed new ideas or demonstrated sustained organisational skills and whose efforts have led to the creation of institutions or services of enduring value.

The Trustees of the Vietsch Foundation take great pleasure in announcing that they have unanimously selected two outstanding individuals whose dedication and contributions to community advancement make them each a worthy recipient of an individual 2018 medal of honour: Licia Florio and Ingrid Melve.

The 2018 Vietsch Foundation Medal of Honour was awarded in Trondheim on 11 June, during the TNC18 conference, the largest European research and education networking event, organised by GÉANT.

Valentino Cavalli, Chair of the Board of Trustees explains the rationale behind this year’s award. “Licia and Ingrid each have a strong track record of achievements that have brought enduring benefits for the research and education networking community. Since we found both equally deserving, the trustees decided to award two medals to recognize this work,   over many years, that continues to benefit millions in the community every day.”


Licia Florio

Licia Florio is Senior Trust and Identity Manager at GÉANT. Licia joined TERENA in 2001. Working in the area of Trust and Identity she has led or guided most of the initiatives that make up the current European and global authentication and authorisation infrastructure for research and education. Having supported the Task Forces that produced the eduroam (federated access to wireless networks) pilot and led to the technical infrastructure for eduGAIN federated authentication system, she initiated the EuroCAMP workshops.

She led the TERENA Certificate Service that has greatly reduced the price of digital certificates for research and education organisations across Europe, and the TACAR project that facilitates trust between certificates issued for research and education purposes across the globe. Such activities require coordination beyond Europe and she has provided continuing leadership throughout the life of the REFEDS activity developing compatible federation policies and practices. Currently she leads the AARC project that continues to help research organisations to deploy federated access.



Ingrid Melve

Ingrid Melve worked at Uninett until December 31, 2017. Since January 1, 2018, she has been working at Unit – Norwegian Directorate for ICT and Joint Services in Higher Education and Research. For more than 20 years, Ingrid has led the introduction of new technologies into research and education, bringing a practical perspective to sometimes arcane technical discussions. After early investigations into how universities could make effective use of web caches, she worked on national and international deployments of federated access management. She then led the first effort by any European research network to help universities and colleges with their internal infrastructure, covering video-conferencing, lecture capture, on-line examinations and much more. Throughout her career, she has been generous in sharing her knowledge with the community, entertaining and informing audiences at many TERENA and GÉANT conferences, as well as contributing greatly to conference organisation.




The mission of the Vietsch Foundation is to promote research and development of advanced Internet technology for scientific research and higher education. The Vietsch Foundation fulfils its goals in two ways: First, it contributes funding to specific research and development projects that demonstrate potential value to progress European and global research and education networking. And second, each year it awards a medal of honour to people who have contributed to the development of services or technologies of lasting value that are used by the networking community and its users in research, development and education. The Foundation was created through the last will and testament of Willem Karel Vietsch (1952–2014), a Dutch expert, a leader of the international Internet community, and also the Secretary-General of TERENA, a former association of European national research and education networks. For details visit:

Medal award 2017

John Boland, outgoing Chief Executive of HEAnet, Ireland’s National Education and Research Network has been awarded the Vietsch Foundation’s medal of honour. The medal is awarded annually to people who have made a contribution of lasting value to the research and development of advanced Internet technology aimed to support science, research and higher education. John Boland received the medal earlier today during the opening of the TNC17 conference in Linz, Austria.

The Vietsch Foundation Medal is awarded annually to individuals or teams that have developed new ideas as well as to those who have proved their organisational skills and whose efforts have led to the creation of institutions or services of long-term value. Valentino Cavalli, Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Vietsch Foundation, explains the rationale behind this year’s award. “John Boland was chosen from many candidates because of his track record of successful achievements, both nationally and internationally. Thanks to strong leadership and management, he was able to turn vision into stable organisational setup and services, which are successful and sustainable and are due to last for many years to come”.

John holds a degree in Electronic Engineering and a Post-Graduate diploma in Corporate Governance. He started his career as an electronics engineer for Marconi Communications in the UK. He went on to be a Systems Administrator for Westinghouse in Australia before joining Dublin City University as the Systems and Network Manager in 1990, where he worked for seven years before his appointment as CEO of HEAnet.

In accepting the award, John Boland said, “I have always been passionate about our pan-European project and it is a great honour to be recognised with this award by our NREN community. I am very proud to accept this medal of honour, not only for myself, but for the whole HEAnet team”.

From the very start, John had a clear vision of what HEAnet could and would become and he has devoted the past twenty years to translating his vision into reality. With funding secured from Government, he has built HEAnet into what it is today – Ireland’s National Education and Research Network, providing internet connectivity and services to 1 million users across the Republic of Ireland (population 4.7 million).

In 2004, John championed Irish Government ambitions to provide broadband to all 4,000 schools in Ireland. Under his leadership HEAnet designed, built, and is still managing the first Schools Network in Ireland. Building on this success, he was a member of Government steering group who implemented 100 Mbit/s connectivity for all post-primary schools in Ireland. John’s vision, to leverage HEAnet’s existing national network infrastructure for the benefit of the Schools Network, continues to deliver significant savings for the exchequer.

Never one to stand still, John has continually steered HEAnet into new areas of strategic importance for Ireland’s research and education community. In 2015, he oversaw the establishment of a HEAnet subsidiary company, EduCampus Services, which offers Managed Information Services (MIS); cementing HEAnet’s position as the technology provider for Ireland’s education and research sector.

He served as a member of DANTE Board of Directors for six years (a former UK based company responsible for establishing and operating the pan-European GÉANT network for the research and education sector). During this period, he was also Ireland’s representative on the e-IRG Board throughout Ireland’s EU Presidency in 2012/2013.

John’s long-standing involvement with GÉANT (the leading collaboration on e-infrastructure and services for research and education) has contributed to his success in putting Ireland firmly on the map in terms of pan-European networking.

As John steps down as CEO of HEAnet after twenty years of service, he leaves us as a valued friend to the community, both domestically and internationally, and he leaves behind a legacy that sees HEAnet as an exemplar to any NREN worldwide.

Medal award 2016

Jan Gruntorád, Director of CESNET, the association operating the Czech Republic’s national e-infrastructure of the same name, was awarded the medal of honour of the Vietsch Foundation. The medal is awarded annually to people who have made a contribution of lasting value to the research and development of advanced Internet technology aimed to support science, research and higher education. Jan Gruntorád received the medal in Prague on 13 June, during the TNC16 conference, the largest European research and education networking event, organised by GÉANT, the association of European national research and education networks, and hosted this year by CESNET.

Jan Gruntorád holds Dipl. Ing. (1975) and Ph.D. (1989) degrees from the Faculty of Electrical Engineering of the Czech Technical University in Prague. Upon graduating from the University he took a job at the University Regional Computing Centre (URCC) in Prague. In 1986 he became the head of the Data Communication and Computer Networking department of the URCC.

In those early days, Jan Gruntorád was a member of a limited set of people that grasped the importance of the Internet and its potential for research and education. After political changes in 1989 he initiated the connection of Czechoslovakia to the European Academic and Research Network – EARN and in May 1990 he became the national director of EARN for Czechoslovakia and was responsible for setting up the EARN network in all of Czechoslovakia.

From 1992 he was responsible for establishment of the first Internet type network in the Czech Republic – CESNET. He received an award from the Minister of Education, Youth and Sports of the Czech Republic for the Project and Realization of the CESNET Network.

Jan Gruntorád was a key person involved in establishment of the new legal body CESNET, Association of Legal Entities, in March 1996. He was elected Managing Director of CESNET and member of the Board of Directors of CESNET and he has remained in these positions up to now.

In the period of 1998 to 2003, Jan Gruntorád was the Chairman of the CEENET (Central and Eastern European Network Association) and for more than five years he served as a consultant for NATO in the field of computer networks for the R&D community in the area of the Caucasus and was involved in establishing an IP network for the R&D community in Azerbaijan. For a period of six years Jan Gruntorád served on the Board of Directors of DANTE, a UK-based company responsible for establishment and operation of the pan-European network for the Research and Educationa community GÉANT and for several years he was a member of the Executive Committee of GÉANT projects. Since 2010 Jan Gruntorád has been responsible for creation and operation of the e-Infrastructure for Research, Development and Infrastructures in the Czech Republic, which consists of computer networks, grids, clouds, storage services and provisioning tools for collaboration. He also chaired the Working Group responsible for creation and updating of the Informatics/e-Infrastructures section of the Roadmap for Large Research, Development and Innovation Infrastructures in the Czech Republic. Jan Gruntorád represents the Czech Republic in the European e-IRG (e-Infrastructure Reflection Group). The Trustees of the Vietsch Foundation were unanimous in their choice this year. “Now that CESNET is celebrating its 20th anniversary under the leadership of Jan Gruntorád, it is only appropriate that his efforts get recognition at the international level as well,” adds Valentino Cavalli.

Medal award 2015

The first Vietsch Foundation medals of honour have been awarded to Andrew Cormack, Chief Regulatory Adviser at Jisc and Roland Hedberg, senior researcher at the University of Umeå in Sweden. They were honoured for outstanding contributions during their careers to the development of the Internet:

  • Andrew Cormack, for his role in advancing trust and security within the European research and education sector
  • Roland Hedberg, for his activities in the specification and development of essential components of current Authentication and Authorisation Infrastructures (AAI), a cornerstone of secure access to websites, applications and data.

The medals were presented during the closing plenary session of TNC, the major European conference on research and education networking that is organised annually by GÉANT.

About the winners

Andrew Cormack is Chief Regulatory Adviser at Jisc, a charity that provides technology services and support to UK education and research. Andrew contributed to the establishment of TF-CSIRT, the European forum for security incident response. More recently, his interest in legal matters put him in the unique position to bring together computer security and legal disciplines. Andrew was instrumental in the creation of the successful TRANSITS course on security incident response, which has trained more than 500 individuals in Europe and many more around the world, meaning the internet is a more secure place.

Roland Hedberg is a senior researcher at the University of Umeå in Sweden. Roland has played a key role in contributing his expertise from the research and education networking community to standard industry deployments of federated identity management, an essential component of AAI. He developed the OpenID Connect conformance test suite, which was adopted by the OpenID Foundation and became the de facto reference implementation. OpenID Connect is a new standard, only a year old, but it sees good traction and is rapidly becoming the protocol to use for protecting web-based application.