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Operability and standardisation in response to biological toxin incidents
Horizon Europe - Cluster 3 - Destination 5: Disaster-Resilient Society for Europe
Estimated EU contribution per project
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Link to the submission
Projects should develop and implement existing and new national procedures in order to ensure cross border interoperability in an operational and coherent European crisis response network capable of addressing the threats posed by biological toxins.
Recent incidents in Europe and worldwide have highlighted the current threat posed by several biological toxins falling under the Chemical and Biological Weapons Convention. The incidents demonstrated the urgency for countries individually and collectively to improve crisis management capabilities, to advance standardisation efforts and to interconnect security practitioners such as first responders (including health emergency services), law enforcement agencies, specialists from public health (e.g. epidemiologists, environmental health experts), as well as specialised and forensic laboratories across Europe. In order to ensure cross border interoperability, existing and new national procedures need to be developed and implemented in an operational and coherent European crisis response network capable of addressing the threats posed by biological toxins.
To properly manage and minimise the effects of an attack with biological toxins, fast and reliable detection and identification of the used agent is critical. Portable devices, technologies and methods for responders to perform on-site detection of a panel of biological toxins remain to be developed. There is a need for evaluation, training and advancement of on-site detection methods for responders, as well as the integration of emerging detection technologies into marketable solutions.
The safety of responders relies on correct risk assessment and the use of appropriate protective equipment. The risks from exposure to biological toxins in the hot zone are largely unknown. In order to recommend appropriate protective equipment for first responders and to guide the use of effective decontamination measures, the risks from exposure need to be assessed, taking into account sex susceptibility to toxins exposure. The Commission stockpiles personal protective equipment, and links should be sought with this joint DG ECHO-HERA action to make proposals as useful as possible.
Following an attack, exposed personnel, equipment and facilities needs to be decontaminated and declared safe as quickly as possible, in order limit the effects on society. Most decontamination procedures are developed for chemical or biological (i.e. organisms and viruses) agents, but based on their characteristics, biological toxins are at the interface of classical biological and chemical agents. Therefore, the efficiency of existing decontamination procedures should be evaluated for the decontamination of biological toxins.
Previous initiatives have initiated standardisation efforts for lab-based detection and identification of biological toxins. Analytical tools and reference materials are available and comprehensive training and proficiency-testing programs were organised, however, the need for further technical and operational improvement was demonstrated. Building on existing initiatives and networks, a consolidated platform should be established providing analytical tools (including Certified Reference Materials), training and intercomparisons among laboratories. Following the initial detection of the used biological toxin, a more detailed analysis is needed in order to link the agent to confiscated materials. In support of criminal investigations, new procedures and guidelines for comprehensive forensic analysis of biological toxins are needed. The developed methods and procedures should be shared among specialised and forensic laboratories. This action is also expected to engage with the European Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Authority (HERA).
In this context it is important to remind that standardisation should support operations and policymaking to supplement it but should by no means substitute it. While standardisation of technology may be more straightforward, the right balance does especially have to be sought for processes. The action should ensure close synergies with standardisation activities on European (e.g. CEN/TC 391) and international level (e.g. ISO/TC 292).
Projects’ results are expected to contribute to some or all of the following outcomes:
- Improved European crisis management in case of an incident with biological toxins through the development of a pan-European task force of security practitioners, taking into consideration existing intersectoral actions on bioterrorism;
- New and existing portable devices, technologies and methods for responders to perform on-site detection of biological toxins are brought to the market;
- Recommendations of effective decontamination measures for personnel, equipment and facilities exposed to biological toxins are provided based on solid experimental testing;
- Development of an operational European response network of specialised and forensic laboratories, taking into account existing initiatives such as e.g. the HERA Laboratory Network and harmonised procedures/guidelines for forensic analysis of biological toxins applicable to a range of relevant technologies and toxins;
- The risks for responders from exposure to biological toxins in the hot-zone are assessed and recommendations of protective equipment for working with biological toxins in the hot-zone are developed;
- Building on existing initiatives and networks, a consolidated platform is established providing support for standardisation efforts in the analysis of biological toxins.
Regions / countries for funding
Moldova (Moldova), Albania (Shqipëria), Armenia (Հայաստան), Azerbaijan (Azərbaycan), Belarus (Беларусь), Bosnia and Herzegovina (Bosna i Hercegovina / Босна и Херцеговина), Faeroes (Føroyar / Færøerne), Georgia (საქართველო), Island (Ísland), Israel (ישראל / إِسْرَائِيل), Kosovo (Kosova/Kosovë / Косово), Montenegro (Црна Гора), Morocco (المغرب), North Macedonia (Северна Македонија), Norway (Norge), Serbia (Srbija/Сpбија), Tunisia (تونس /Tūnis), Türkiye, Ukraine (Україна), United Kingdom
Education and training institution, International organization, Non-Profit Organisation (NPO) / Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), Other, Private institution, incl. private company (private for profit), Public Body (national, regional and local; incl. EGTCs), Research Institution incl. University, Small and medium-sized enterprise (SME)
To be eligible for funding, applicants must be established in one of the following countries:
- the Member States of the European Union, including their outermost regions
- the Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs) linked to the Member States
- third countries associated to Horizon Europe - see list of particpating countries
Only legal entities forming a consortium are eligible to participate in actions provided that the consortium includes, as beneficiaries, three legal entities independent from each other and each established in a different country as follows:
- 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.
Any legal entity, regardless of its place of establishment, including legal entities from non-associated third countries or international organisations (including international European research organisations) is eligible to participate (whether it is eligible for funding or not), provided that the conditions laid down in the Horizon Europe Regulation have been met, along with any other conditions laid down in the specific call topic.
A ‘legal entity’ means any natural or legal person created and recognised as such under national law, EU law or international law, which has legal personality and which may, acting in its own name, exercise rights and be subject to obligations, or an entity without legal personality.
- Affiliated entities — Affiliated entities (i.e. entities with a legal or capital link to a beneficiary which participate in the action with similar rights and obligations to the beneficiaries, but which do not sign the grant agreement and therefore do not become beneficiaries themselves) are allowed, if they are eligible for participation and funding.
- Associated partners — Associated partners (i.e. entities which participate in the action without signing the grant agreement, and without the right to charge costs or claim contributions) are allowed, subject to any conditions regarding associated partners set out in the specific call conditions.
- Entities without legal personality — Entities which do not have legal personality under their national law may exceptionally participate, provided that their representatives have the capacity to undertake legal obligations on their behalf, and offer guarantees to protect the EU’s financial interests equivalent to those offered by legal persons.
- EU bodies — Legal entities created under EU law including decentralised agencies may be part of the consortium, unless provided for otherwise in their basic act.
- Joint Research Centre (‘JRC’)— Where provided for in the specific call conditions, applicants may include in their proposals the possible contribution of the JRC but the JRC will not participate in the preparation and submission of the proposal. Applicants will indicate the contribution that the JRC could bring to the project based on the scope of the topic text. After the evaluation process, the JRC and the consortium selected for funding may come to an agreement on the specific terms of the participation of the JRC. If an agreement is found, the JRC may accede to the grant agreement as beneficiary requesting zero funding or participate as an associated partner, and would accede to the consortium as a member.
- Associations and interest groupings — Entities composed of members (e.g. European research infrastructure consortia (ERICs)) may participate as ‘sole beneficiaries’ or ‘beneficiaries without legal personality’. However, if the action is in practice implemented by the individual members, those members should also participate (either as beneficiaries or as affiliated entities, otherwise their costs will NOT be eligible.
other eligibility criteria
This topic requires the active involvement, as beneficiaries, of at least 2 National standardisation organisations.
Relevance for EU Macro-Region
EUSAIR - EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region, EUSALP - EU Strategy for the Alpine Space, EUSBSR - EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region, EUSDR - EU Strategy for the Danube Region
UN Sustainable Development Goals (UN-SDGs)
All proposals must be submitted electronically via the Funders & Tenders Portal electronic submission system (accessible via the topic page in the Search Funding & Tenders section). Paper submissions are NOT possible.
Proposals must be complete and contain all parts and mandatory annexes and supporting documents, e.g. plan for the exploitation and dissemination of the results including communication activities, etc.
The application form will have two parts:
- Part A (to be filled in directly online) contains administrative information about the applicant organisations (future coordinator and beneficiaries and affiliated entities), the summarised budget for the proposal and call-specific questions;
- Part B (to be downloaded from the Portal submission system, completed and then assembled and re-uploaded as a PDF in the system) contains the technical description of the project.
Annexes and supporting documents will be directly available in the submission system and must be uploaded as PDF files (or other formats allowed by the system).
The limit for a full application (Part B) is 45 pages.