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Call: Creation of an innovation community for solar fuels and chemicals

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Programme
Acronym HE-CL4-RESILIENCE
Type of Fund Direct Management
Description of programme
"Horizon Europe - Cluster 4 - Destination 2: Increased autonomy in key strategic value chains for resilient industry"

This destination will directly support the following Key Strategic Orientations, as outlined in the Strategic Plan:

  • KSO C, ‘Making Europe the first digitally-enabled circular, climate-neutral and sustainable economy through the transformation of its mobility, energy, construction and production systems’
  • KSO A, ‘Promoting an open strategic autonomy by leading the development of key digital, enabling and emerging technologies, sectors and value chains to accelerate and steer the digital and green transitions through human-centred technologies and innovations’
  • KSO D, ‘Creating a more resilient, inclusive and democratic European society, prepared and responsive to threats and disasters, addressing inequalities and providing high-quality health care, and empowering all citizens to act in the green and digital transitions.

Proposals for topics under this Destination should set out a credible pathway to contributing to the following expected impact of Cluster 4:

  • Industrial leadership and increased autonomy in key strategic value chains with security of supply in raw materials, achieved through breakthrough technologies in areas of industrial alliances, dynamic industrial innovation ecosystems and advanced solutions for substitution, resource and energy efficiency, effective reuse and recycling and clean primary production of raw materials, including critical raw materials, and leadership in the circular economy.

The COVID-19 crisis has shown that global competitiveness and resilience are two sides of the same coin[[Annual Sustainable Growth Strategy 2021 (COM/2020/575 final)]]. Resilience is about more than the ability to withstand and cope with shocks; it is an opportunity to undergo transitions in a sustainable and fair way. As the EU gears up to becoming a climate-neutral, circular and competitive economy by 2050, resilience will require paying attention to new vulnerabilities as entire sectors undergo deep transformations while creating opportunities for Europe’s industry to develop its own markets, products and services which boost competitiveness.

Research and innovation will be fundamental to spur industrial leadership and enhanced resilience. It will support the modernisation of traditional industrial models while developing novel technologies, business models and processes. This can enhance the flexibility of the EU’s industrial base, and increase its resilience by reducing EU dependencies on third countries for critical raw materials and technologies.

In the first Work Programme, topics under Destination 2 ‘Increased autonomy in key strategic value chains for resilient industry’ will tackle missing segments in strategic areas and value chains, to strengthen the EU’s industrial base and boost its competitiveness and open strategic autonomy. In addition, it will explore how increased circularity has the potential to increase the open strategic autonomy of EU industry through the more efficient use of resources and secondary raw materials.

This will be achieved through R&I activities focusing on four areas key for the resilience of EU industry:

  • Raw materials: The EU is highly dependent on a few third countries for the (critical) raw materials it needs for strategic value chains (including e-mobility, batteries, renewable energies, pharmaceuticals, aerospace, dual-use and digital applications). In a context where demand is set to increase[[ For example, demand for rare earths used in permanent magnets, e.g. for electric vehicles, digital technologies or wind generators, could increase tenfold by 2050. See the Commission Communication “Critical Raw Materials Resilience: Charting a Path towards greater Security and Sustainability”, COM(2020) 474 final.]], these will remain, more than ever, a vital prerequisite for both Europe’s open strategic autonomy and a successful transition to a climate-neutral and circular economy. Responding to the Critical Raw Materials action plan R&I activities will tackle the vulnerabilities in the entire EU raw materials value chain, from sustainable and responsible exploration, extraction, processing, recycling, contributing to building the EU knowledge base of primary and secondary raw materials and ensuring secure, sustainable and responsible access to (critical) raw materials.
  • Advanced materials that are sustainable by design are needed to meet the challenges of climate neutrality, transition to a circular economy and a zero-pollution Europe, as well as broader benefits in many different applications. While chemical and related materials production is expected to double globally by 2030, this will largely take place outside Europe[[By 2030, China will likely account for more than half of global production, the EU and US for only one quarter of production (Mid-Century Vision report, Cefic, 2019, and International Energy Agency)]]. To overcome its reliance on imports of basic chemicals and related materials, Europe needs to strengthen its capacity to produce and use chemicals in a sustainable and competitive way. In addition, it is necessary to continue work on an ecosystem, based on open innovation test beds (OITBs), which enables the rapid development, uptake and commercialisation of advanced materials. All actions should be guided by sustainable-by-design principles, i.e. environmental and health safety, circularity and functionality.
  • Circular value chains: to complement the circular technologies in Destination 1, further technological and non-technological elements (such as business models and the traceability of products) are necessary in the transition to novel low-emission and circular industrial value chains.
  • Preparedness of businesses/smes/startups: European companies, and in particular SMEs, have shown a chronic lagging behind the US and China in the uptake of new, and especially digital, technologies.[[ See ATI reports from US and China about technology performance: China:https://ati.ec.europa.eu/reports/international-reports/report-china-technological-capacities-and-key-policy-measures; and US: https://ati.ec.europa.eu/reports/international-reports/report-united-states-america-technological-capacities-and-key-policy ]]

To achieve these wider effects, unprecedented investments in re- and upskilling are central to supporting the green and digital transitions, enhancing innovation and growth potential, fostering economic and social resilience and ensuring quality employment and social inclusion. This is why activities planned under Destination 6 “A human-centred and ethical development of digital and industrial technologies” will also contribute to the objectives of a more resilient industrial base. Further, as industrial leadership and resilience are two sides of the same coin, activities targeting industrial leadership are a key factor in the EU’s long-term industrial resilience. This is why activities supported under Destination 1 ‘Climate neutral, circular and digitised production’ and Destination 3 ‘World leading data and computing technologies’ that further ensure Europe’s productivity growth and competitiveness are also key to safeguarding its open strategic autonomy and resilience.

In addition, activities beyond R&I investments will be needed, in particular in terms of synergies with the European Innovation Council and Pillar III of Horizon Europe given the strong role of SMEs in the development of the innovations planned. Synergies will also be sought to access blended funding and finance from other EU programmes notably under InvestEU; testing and deployment activities under the Digital Europe Programme (DEP); links to the EIT (Raw Materials and Digital KICs); links with the Single Market programme to promote entrepreneurship and the creation and growth of companies and links to the thematic smart specialisation platform on industrial modernisation.

In line with the European Green Deal objectives, research and innovation activities should comply with the ‘do no significant harm’ principle[[as per Article 17 of Regulation (EU) No 2020/852 on the establishment of a framework to facilitate sustainable investment (EU Taxonomy Regulation)]]. Compliance needs to be assessed both for activities carried out during the course of the project as well as the expected life cycle impact of the innovation at a commercialisation stage (where relevant). The robustness of the compliance must be customised to the envisaged TRL of the project. In this regard, the potential harm of Innovation Actions contributing to the European Green Deal will be monitored throughout the project duration.

Proposals for topics under this Destination should set out a credible pathway to contributing to increased autonomy in key strategic value chains for resilience industry, and more specifically to one or several of the following impacts:

  • Resilient, sustainable and secure (critical) raw materials value chains for EU industrial ecosystems, in support of the twin green and digital transformations.
  • New sustainable-by-design materials with enhanced functionalities and applications in a wide range of industrial processes and consumer products.
  • Leadership in producing materials that provide solutions for clean, toxic/pollutant free environment, decarbonising industry, and safeguarding civil infrastructures.
  • Leadership in circular economy that strengthens cross-sectorial cooperation along the value chain and enable SMEs to transform their activities and business models.
  • Increased adoption of key digital and enabling technologies in industrial value chains and strategic sectors, paying particular attention to SMEs and start-ups.

Much of the research and innovation supported under this Destination may serve as a cradle for the New European Bauhaus: this is about designing sustainable ways of living, situated at the crossroads between art, culture, social inclusion, science and technology. This includes R&I on manufacturing, construction, advanced materials and the circular economy approaches.

Business cases and exploitation strategies for industrialisation: This section applies only to those topics in this Destination, for which proposals should demonstrate the expected impact by including a business case and exploitation strategy for industrialisation.

The business case should demonstrate the expected impact of the proposal in terms of enhanced market opportunities for the participants and enhanced manufacturing capacities in the EU, in the short to medium term. It should describe the targeted market(s); estimated market size in the EU and globally; user and customer needs; and demonstrate that the solutions will match the market and user needs in a cost-effective manner; and describe the expected market position and competitive advantage.

The exploitation strategy should identify obstacles, requirements and necessary actions involved in reaching higher TRLs, for example: matching value chains, enhancing product robustness; securing industrial integrators; and user acceptance.

For TRLs 7-8, a credible strategy to achieve future full-scale manufacturing in the EU is expected, indicating the commitments of the industrial partners after the end of the project.

Activities beyond R&I investments will be needed to realise the expected impacts: these include the further development of skills and competencies (also via the European Institute of Innovation and Technology, in particular EIT Manufacturing); and the use of financial products under the InvestEU Fund for further commercialisation of R&I outcomes.

Where relevant, in the context of skills, it is recommended to develop training material to endow workers with the right skillset in order to support the uptake and deployment of new innovative products, services, and processes developed in the different projects. This material should be tested and be scalable, and can potentially be up-scaled through the European Social Fund Plus (ESF+). This will help the European labour force to close the skill gaps in the relevant sectors and occupational groups and improve employment and social levels across the EU and associated countries.

Link Link to Programme
Call
Creation of an innovation community for solar fuels and chemicals
Description of call
"Creation of an innovation community for solar fuels and chemicals"

Expected Outcome:

Creation of an innovation eco-system gathering the various elements necessary to accelerate the development in the area of introduction of solar fuels and chemicals. This will require a strict synergy of actions between all stakeholder components, from R&D to industry and society, in order to foster their introduction. In addition, the development of solar fuels and chemicals requires a full redesign of the current technologies and processes based on fossil fuels, and the technological gap is a main factor limiting their introduction.

Projects are expected to contribute to the following outcomes:

  • Solar fuels and chemicals constitute those products that are equivalent in terms of functionality to the ones currently in use based on fossil fuels, and thus well integrating within the existing infrastructure, but produced with the aid of renewable energy sources and with a disruptive decrease in terms of reduction of greenhouse gas emissions on LCA bases, larger than that based on biomass sources. They will play a crucial role to meet targets for decarbonizing Europe;
  • Structuring/developing in the short term the European ecosystem in order to speed up technologies to move from the laboratory to industry;
  • Tackle long-term research challenges in the field. This would be done mainly through the RIA & IA topics of the large-scale R&I initiative, as well as with actions at national and regional levels, with overall coordination by the CSA.

Scope:

  • Coordinating a large scale R&I initiative on storage of renewable (solar) energies in chemical form involving all relevant stakeholders (from academia, RTOs, industry and society) and linked with relevant international, national and local programmes and initiatives;
  • Building and updating, a long-term roadmap;
  • Building/structuring a gender balanced, inclusive community with all relevant stakeholders across EU;
  • Participation of societal stakeholders to the activities of the community and initiative;
  • Facilitating cooperation and communication between the stakeholders of the initiative on cross-cutting topics;
  • Strengthening the engagement of the European industrial stakeholders in the long term beyond the CSA;
  • Creating an innovation eco-system to foster and accelerate the technological, economic and societal impact of the initiative and pave the way to industrial exploitation of the technologies in the field of energy, transport and climate;
  • Speeding-up and increasing the positive impacts of technologies on climate change and protection of environment;
  • Spreading of S&T excellence across Europe and increase awareness of European activities;
  • Addressing international cooperation in particular with other relevant actions (e.g. Mission Innovation);
  • Preparing a large-scale research and innovation initiative beyond the CSA, as a partnership or another instrument to be discussed and agreed upon with the Commission and the Member States and Associated countries.

Where synergies are possible with projects from topics HORIZON-CL4-2021-RESILIENCE-01-14, HORIZON-CL4-2022-TWIN-TRANSITION-01-15, HORIZON-CL5-2021-D3-02-03, and HORIZON-CL5-2022-D3-03-03, cooperation activities are encouraged.

The project partners should make provisions to actively participate in the common activities of the large-scale research initiative on Fossil-free fuels and chemicals for a climate-neutral Europe.

The topic is open for international cooperation where the EU has reciprocal benefit.

Link Link to Call
Thematic Focus Research & Innovation, Technology Transfer & Exchange, Capacity Building, Cooperation Networks, Institutional Cooperation, Clustering, Development Cooperation, Economic Cooperation, Digitisation, ICT, Telecommunication, Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, Green Technologies & Green Deal, Circular Economy, Sustainability, Natural Resources, Climate, Climate Change, Environment & Biodiversity, Administration & Governance, Employment & Labour Market, Competitiveness, SME
Funding area EU Member States
Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs)
Origin of Applicant EU Member States
Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs)
Eligible applicants Education and Training Centres, Federal State / Region / City / Municipality / Local Authority, Research Institution, Lobby Group / Professional Association / Trade Union, International Organization, Small and Medium Sized Enterprises, SMEs (between 10 and 249 employees), Microenterprises (fewer than 10 employees), NGO / NPO, Public Services, National Government, Other, Start Up Company, University, Enterprise (more than 250 employees or not defined), Association
Applicant details

eligible non-EU countries:

  • countries associated to Horizon Europe
At the date of the publication of the work programme, there are no countries associated to Horizon Europe. Considering the Union’s interest to retain, in principle, relations with the countries associated to Horizon 2020, most third countries associated to Horizon 2020 are expected to be associated to Horizon Europe with an intention to secure uninterrupted continuity between Horizon 2020 and Horizon Europe. In addition, other third countries can also become associated to Horizon Europe during the programme. For the purposes of the eligibility conditions, applicants established in Horizon 2020 Associated Countries or in other third countries negotiating association to Horizon Europe will be treated as entities established in an Associated Country, if the Horizon Europe association agreement with the third country concerned applies at the time of signature of the grant agreement.

  • low-and middle-income countries

Legal entities which are established in countries not listed above will be eligible for funding if provided for in the specific call conditions, or if their participation is considered essential for implementing the action by the granting authority.

Specific cases:

  • Affiliated entities - Affiliated entities are eligible for funding if they are established in one of the countries listed above.
  • EU bodies - Legal entities created under EU law may also be eligible to receive funding, unless their basic act states otherwise.
  • International organisations - International European research organisations are eligible to receive funding. Unless their participation is considered essential for implementing the action by the granting authority, other international organisations are not eligible to receive funding. International organisations with headquarters in a Member State or Associated Country are eligible to receive funding for ‘Training and mobility’actions and when provided for in the specific call conditions.
Project Partner Yes
Project Partner Details

Unless otherwise provided for in the specific call conditions , legal entities forming a consortium are eligible to participate in actions provided that the consortium includes:

  • at least one independent legal entity established in a Member State;and
  • at least two other independent legal entities, each established in different Member States or Associated Countries.
Call opens 22.06.2021
Call closes 23.09.2021
Further info

Proposal page limits and layout:

The application form will have two parts:

  • Part A to be filled in directly online  (administrative information, summarised budget, call-specific questions, etc.)
  • Part B to be downloaded from the Portal submission system, completed and re-uploaded as a PDF in the system

Page limit - Part B: 30 pages

Type of Funding Grants
Financial details
Expected EU contribution per projectThe Commission estimates that an EU contribution of between EUR 3.00 and 4.00 million would allow these outcomes to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of a proposal requesting different amounts.
Indicative budgetThe total indicative budget for the topic is EUR 4.00 million.
Typ of ActionCoordination and Support Actions (CSA)
Funding rate100%
Submission Proposals must be submitted electronically via the Funding & Tenders Portal Electronic Submission System. Paper submissions are NOTpossible.

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