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Call: Co-Funded Partnership: Driving Urban Transitions to a sustainable future (DUT)

Acronym HE-CL5-D2
Type of Fund Direct Management
Description of programme
"Horizon Europe - Cluster 5 - Destination 2: Cross-sectoral solutions for the climate transition"

This Destination covers thematic areas which are cross-cutting by nature and can provide key solutions for climate, energy and mobility applications. In line with the scope of cluster 5 such areas are batteries, hydrogen, communities and cities, early-stage breakthrough technologies as well as citizen engagement. Although these areas are very distinct in terms of challenges, stakeholder communities and expected impacts, they have their cross-cutting nature as a unifying feature and are therefore grouped together under this Destination.

This Destination contributes to the following Strategic Plan’s Key Strategic Orientations (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;
  • A: Promoting an open strategic autonomy[[‘Open strategic autonomy’ refers to the term ‘strategic autonomy while preserving an open economy’, as reflected in the conclusions of the European Council 1 – 2 October 2020.]] 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;
  • 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.

It covers the following impact areas:

  • Industrial leadership in key and emerging technologies that work for people
  • Affordable and clean energy
  • Smart and sustainable transport

The expected impact, in line with the Strategic Plan, is to contribute to the “Clean and sustainable transition of the energy and transport sectors towards climate neutrality facilitated by innovative cross-cutting solutions”, notably through:

  1. Nurturing a world-class European research and innovation eco-system on batteries along the value chain based on sustainable pathways. It includes improvement of technological performance to increase application user attractiveness (in particular in terms of safety, cost, user convenience, fast charging and environmental footprint), in parallel supporting the creation of a competitive, circular, and sustainable European battery manufacturing value chain (more detailed information below).
  2. Increased efficiency of Europe’s cities’ and communities’ energy, resource use and mobility patterns and cities’ and communities’ overall sustainability, thereby improving their climate-resilience and attractiveness to businesses and citizens in a holistic fashion. This also includes improved air and water quality, resilience of energy supply, intelligent mobility services and logistics, liveability and accessibility of cities, public health, comfortable, affordable zero emissions housing as well as the exploitation of relevant European technologies and knowledge (more detailed information below).
  3. Facilitating the transformation to a climate neutral society, in line with the EU’s 2050 climate targets, through more effectively engaging and empowering citizens to participate in the transition, from planning to decision-making and implementation (more detailed information below).
  4. Nurturing the development of emerging technologies with high potential to enable zero-greenhouse gas and negative emissions in energy and transport (more detailed information below).

A competitive and sustainable European battery value chain

Batteries will enable the rollout of zero-emission mobility and renewable energy storage, contributing to the European Green Deal and supporting the UN SDGs by creating a vibrant, responsible and sustainable market. Besides climate neutrality, batteries also contribute to other UN SDGs directly and indirectly such as enabling of decentralized and off-grid energy solutions.

The strategic pathway is, on the one hand, for Europe to rapidly regain technological competitiveness in order to capture a significant market share of the new and fast growing rechargeable battery market, and, on the other hand, to invest in longer term research on future battery technologies to establish Europe's long term technological leadership and industrial competitiveness

The Partnership “Towards a competitive European industrial battery value chain for stationary applications and e-mobility”, to which all battery-related topics under this Destination will contribute, aims to establish world-leading sustainable and circular European battery value chain to drive transformation towards a carbon-neutral society.

The main impacts to be generated by topics targeting the battery value chain under this Destination are:

  1. Increased global competitiveness of the European battery ecosystem through generated knowledge and leading-edge technologies in battery materials, cell design, manufacturing and recycling;
  2. Accelerated growth of innovative, competitive and sustainable battery manufacturing industry in Europe;
  3. Accelerated roll out of electrified mobility through increased attractiveness for citizens and businesses, offering lower price, better performance and safety, reliable operation of e-vehicles. Increased grid flexibility, increased share of renewables integration and facilitated self-consumption and participation in energy markets by citizens and businesses;
  4. Increased overall sustainability and improved Life Cycle Assessment of each segment of the battery value chain. Developed and established innovative recycling network and technologies and in line with the March 2020 European Circular Economy Action Plan, accelerated roll-out of circular designs and holistic circular approach for funded innovations;
  5. Increased exploitation and reliability of batteries though demonstration of innovative use cases of battery integration in stationary energy storage and vehicles/vessels/aircrafts (in collaboration with other partnerships).

Communities and cities

This work programme contains only a few activities. The bulk of activities related to communities and cities will be introduced during 2021 as an update to the Horizon Europe work programme 2021, once the preparatory phase of the Horizon Europe Missions has been concluded.

Emerging breakthrough technologies and climate solutions

Although the contribution of a wide range of technologies to reach climate neutrality is already foreseeable, EU R&I programming should also leave room for emerging and break-through technologies with a high potential to achieve climate neutrality. These technologies can play a significant role in reaching the EU’s goal to become climate neutral by 2050.

Relevant topics supported under this Destination do not duplicate activities supported under Pillars I or III, but focus on emerging technologies that can enable the climate transition and follows at the same time a technology-neutral bottom up approach and the support of key technologies that are expected to support achieving climate neutrality. Research in this area is mostly technological in nature but should also where relevant be accompanied by assessments of environmental impact, social and economic impacts, and possible regulatory needs as well as activities to support the creation of value chains and to build up new ecosystems of stakeholders working on breakthrough technologies.

The main expected impacts to be generated by topics targeting breakthrough technologies and climate solutions under this Destination are:

  • Emergence of unanticipated technologies enabling emerging zero-greenhouse gas and negative emissions in energy and transport;
  • Development of high-risk/high return technologies to enable a transition to a net greenhouse gas neutral European economy;

Citizens and stakeholder engagement

The transition to climate-neutral economies and societies by 2050 is the defining challenge of this century. The challenge is not just technical: it calls for wide-ranging societal transformations and the adaptation of lifestyles and behaviours. Engaging citizens and stakeholders is therefore critical for the success of the European Green Deal, as is making greater recourse to the Social Sciences and Humanities (SSH), alongside the Scientific, Technical, Engineering and Mathematical (STEM) disciplines.

The topics under this section do not stand alone but aim to complement and support the broader integration (“mainstreaming”) of citizen and stakeholder engagement as well as the social sciences and humanities (SSH) across the whole Horizon Europe programme map and particularly Cluster 5.

The main expected impacts to be generated by topics targeting citizen and stakeholder engagement under this Destination are:

  • A better understanding of the societal implications of the climate transition, including its distributional repercussions;
  • More effective policy interventions, co-created with target constituencies and building on high-quality policy advice;
  • Greater societal support for transition policies and programs, based on greater and more consequential involvement of those most affected.
Link Link to Programme
Co-Funded Partnership: Driving Urban Transitions to a sustainable future (DUT)
Description of call
"Co-Funded Partnership: Driving Urban Transitions to a sustainable future (DUT)"

Expected Outcome

To enable the EU to achieve targets set out by the EU Green Deal and fulfil its commitments related to the UN Agenda 2030 for sustainability, the Urban Agenda for the EU, the Habitat III New Urban Agenda and the Paris Agreement, European cities need to engage in sustainability and climate-neutrality transitions.

The partnership is expected to contribute to all of the following expected outcomes:

  • Enhanced multi-level cooperation and alignment on R&I on sustainable urban development across and within cities, regions and countries, including international outreach and cooperation with other networks and initiatives.
  • Strengthen Europe as a role model for R&I on sustainable urban development.
  • Innovative, cross-sectoral and inclusive governance, policy and decision-making harnessing the full potential of social science and citizens’ engagement in city making process.
  • Sustainable, safe, resilient, socially inclusive, liveable and attractive neighbourhoods, towns and cities with reduced environmental footprint and enhanced well-being and quality of life for citizens.
  • Local authorities, municipalities, business, social partners, civil society, knowledge institutions and citizens empowered with necessary knowledge, skills and tools to actively engage in sustainability and climate-neutrality transitions.
  • Cities fully empowered to play their critical role in providing solutions to global challenges thanks to enhanced technological, institutional, digital, nature-based and social innovation capacity.
  • Science and evidence based implementation of the European Green Deal, the Urban Agenda for the EU and other European, national, regional and local urban-relevant policies and strategies.


Cities are the home of complex, inter-dependent challenges related to resource depletion, climate change impacts, environmental degradation, water, air and soil pollution, health issues and social exclusion. Although they occupy about 3% of the Earth’s land, they consume over 65% of the world energy, 75% of natural resource and account for more than 70% of the global CO2 emission. Today, more than 70% of EU citizens live in urban areas and it is expected that more than two thirds of the global population will be living in cities by 2030. Cities are also the engines of the European economy generating about 85% of the EU’s GDP and hubs of technological and social innovation. As such, they are key players in shaping and providing solutions to these challenges and need to urgently engage in unprecedented systemic transformational and bold transition towards sustainability and climate neutrality.

Important gaps in knowledge, evidence, innovation, technology, data, capacity and skills, lack of integrated approaches and deficit in applying research and innovation results to actions exist that prevent successful implementation of such transitions. Also institutional fragmentation, non-inclusive and non-participatory governance structures lead to a lack of shared vision, goal and direction regarding the transition process, incoherence in policies and strategies, uncoordinated planning and decision-making, ineffective measures and inefficient use of resources. Public utilities and enterprises in municipal ownership are an often overseen link between the political ambition and innovative activities on the ground supporting a transformation.

A co-funded partnership on Urban Transitions to a sustainable future is expected to make a considerable contribution towards filling up these gaps. By aligning, mobilising and leveraging EU, national and regional R&I agendas, programmes, priorities, activities and investments, including from the private sector and associating to the extent possible, the totality of EU Member States and Associated Countries, it should create a pan-European critical mass and invest on challenge-driven R&I to underpin urban sustainability transitions.

It should focus as priority on critical urban sectors such as Positive Energy Districts, accessible, connected urban mobility and urban greening and circularity, their inter-relations and interplay with cross-sectoral issues such as governance, digitisation, resilience, land use, infrastructures and public spaces for sustainable, liveable, inclusive and resilient cities. In doing so, the partnership should develop holistic, integrated, systemic and cross-sectorial approaches, foster co-creation processes involving all relevant urban stakeholders and actors and harness the potential of social innovation and citizen’s engagement to deliver place-based portfolios of solutions, measures and tools, facilitate their replication, upscaling, up-taking and mainstreaming and foster market accessibility to increase the return to investments.

It should experiment and promote technological, nature-based, social, economic, cultural, planning and governance innovation and new business and finance models.

In line with the European Commission’s political vision of leaving no one behind, the partnership should harness the outreach potential provided by the national research and innovation funding agencies and involve, as necessary, international cities network to mobilise cities, including small and medium size ones, enterprises including those in municipal ownership, stakeholders, societal actors and research institutions across Europe, including widening countries, and empower them in designing and rolling out sustainability and climate neutrality transitions. This way it will establish itself as a European urban R&I platform serving the sustainability transition needs of the wide diversity and heterogeneity among cities across Europe regarding their socio-economic, technological, institutional, innovation and skills potential.

Major efforts should be invested in facilitating replication, upscaling and up-taking of technologies, solutions, tools and practices and fostering accessibility to knowledge and evidence, individual and collective behavioural changes, knowledge sharing, dialogues, peer-learning, awareness raising, communities and capacity building and skills enhancement to enable urban actors, practitioners, society and citizens to become drivers for transformative transitions towards urban sustainability.

Emphasis should be given to place-based approaches and experimentation capitalizing on citizens’ engagement, social innovation, user-led and citizen science, for shared ownership of human-centred and just solutions and transitions pathways that are tailored to local specificities.

The European Partnership for ‘Driving Urban Tradition to Sustainable Future’ is expected to present a joint programme of activities implemented through a series of joint calls for research and innovation projects and a comprehensive management and implementation plan promoting coordination, networking, training, demonstration and dissemination. Activities could potentially be structured along the following building blocks:

  • Implementing joint calls for challenge-driven R&I;
  • Setting-up of a multi-stakeholder community of practice to facilitate science-policy-business-society dialogues and sharing of experiences;
  • Pursuing communication and dissemination measures to make R&I results accessible for all stakeholder groups;
  • Preparation of methodologies, guidelines, references and tools for replication and mainstreaming of good “practice”;
  • Clustering of projects and synthesising of R&I results;
  • Setting-up a knowledge hub, organising training activities, fostering ULLs and experience sharing on new approaches and solutions to support capacity building among urban actors;
  • Addressing standardisation, certification or, wherever necessary, legislative issues;
  • Setting-up rigorous monitoring to assess progress towards achieving the objectives of the Partnership and its contribution to relevant EU policies;

To ensure coherence and complementarity of activities and leverage of knowledge and investment possibilities, the partnership is expected to foster close collaboration and synergies with other ongoing EU and nationally funded R&I actions, the mission on ‘Climate-neutral and Smart Cities’ as well as other relevant Horizon Europe European Partnerships (e.g. Clean Energy Transitions; Built environment and construction, Rescuing biodiversity, Safe and Sustainable Food System, 2ZERO, Cooperative, Connected and Automated Mobility (CCAM), EIT Urban Mobility and Water4All. Applicants are expected to describe in details the way to implement such collaborations. To this end, proposals should provide for a dedicated work package and/or task to describe the aims to be achieved through these collaborations, the way to implement them and earmark the appropriate resources accordingly.

Interfaces to public procurement and investment programmes and links with the Urban Agenda for the EU, the European Urban Initiative (EUI) including its strand on Innovative Actions under cohesion policy, private funds, etc. should be explored to support take-up and larger scale implementation of tested approaches and solutions.

Mutually benefitting international outreach, collaboration and cooperation with global and international cities and research funding networks should be pursued to align strategies and research agenda and promote scientific evidence and good practice for urban policy on international level.

Financial commitments and in-kind contributions are expected to be provided by the partners of the consortium for the governance structure, the joint calls and other dedicated implementation actions and efforts for national coordination.

It is expected that the partnership will organise joint calls on an annual base from 2022-2027 and will consider ample time for the implementation of the co-funded projects.

The Commission envisages to include a new action in future work programme(s) to award a grant to identified beneficiaries with the aim of continuing to provide support to the partnership for the duration of Horizon Europe.

Cross-cutting Priorities:

Link Link to Call
Thematic Focus Research & Innovation, Technology Transfer & Exchange, Climate, Climate Change, Environment & Biodiversity, Clustering, Development Cooperation, Economic Cooperation, Circular Economy, Sustainability, Natural Resources, Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, Green Technologies & Green Deal, Mobility & Transport/Traffic , Administration & Governance
Funding area EU Member States
Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs)
Origin of Applicant EU Member States
Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs)
Eligible applicants Federal State / Region / City / Municipality / Local Authority, Public Services, National Government, Education and Training Centres, Lobby Group / Professional Association / Trade Union, International Organization, Research Institution, Small and Medium Sized Enterprises, SMEs (between 10 and 249 employees), Microenterprises (fewer than 10 employees), NGO / NPO, Start Up Company, Other, 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.
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: 70 pages

Type of Funding Grants
Financial details
Expected EU contribution per projectThe Commission estimates that an EU contribution of around EUR 37.00 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 37.00 million.
Typ of ActionProgramme Co-fund Action
Funding rateThe funding rate is up to 30% of the eligible costs. This funding rate applies both to members and non-members of the partnership, including non-profit legal entities.

The total indicative budget for this co-funded Partnership is EUR 130 million, committed in annual instalments over multiple year (EUR 18.5 million from the 2021 budget and EUR 18.5 million from the 2022 budget).

Beneficiaries may provide financial support to third parties.

Financial support provided by the participants to third parties is one of the primary activities of this action to allow the partnership to achieve its objectives. For Call topic HORIZON-CL5-2021-D2-01-16, as per Call topic conditions, the limit of EUR 60 000 for financial support provided by the participants to third parties does not apply. However, if this limit is exceeded for one or more third parties, the applicants should provide a justification in the proposal.

Submission Proposals must be submitted electronically via the Funding & Tenders Portal Electronic Submission System. Paper submissions are NOTpossible.

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