The traffic carried by core optical networks grows at a steady but remarkable pace of 30-40% year-over-year. Optical transmissions and networking advancements continue to satisfy the traffic requirements by delivering the content over the network infrastructure in a cost and energy efficient manner. Such core optical networks serve the information traffic demands in a dynamic way, in response to requirements for shifting of traffics demands, both temporally (day/night) and spatially (business district/residential). However as we are approaching fundamental spectral efficiency limits of singlemode fibers, the scientific community is pursuing recently the development of an innovative, all-optical network architecture introducing the spatial degree of freedom when designing/operating future transport networks. Spacedivision- multiplexing through the use of bundled single mode fibers, and/or multi-core fibers and/or few-mode fibers can offer up to 100-fold capacity increase in future optical networks. The EU INSPACE project is working on the development of a complete spatial-spectral flexible optical networking solution, offering the network ultra-high capacity, flexibility and energy efficiency required to meet the challenges of delivering exponentially growing traffic demands in the internet over the next twenty years. In this paper we will present the motivation and main research activities of the INSPACE consortium towards the realization of the overall project solution.