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Call: Digital permits and compliance checks for buildings and infrastructure

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Acronym HE-CL4-TWIN-TRANSITION
Type of Fund Direct Management
Description of programme
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This destination will directly support the following Key Strategic Orientations, as outlined in the Strategic Plan:

  • KSO C, ‘Making Europe the first digitally led 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 the following expected impact of Cluster 4:

  • Global leadership in clean and climate-neutral industrial value chains, circular economy and climate-neutral digital systems and infrastructures (networks, data centres), through innovative production and manufacturing processes and their digitisation, new business models, sustainable-by-design advanced materials and technologies enabling the switch to decarbonisation in all major emitting industrial sectors, including green digital technologies.

Accelerating the twin green and digital transitions will be key to building a lasting and prosperous growth, in line with the EU’s new growth strategy, the European Green Deal. Europe’s ability to lead the twin transitions will require new technologies, with investment and innovation to match. Research and innovation will be fundamental to create the new products, services and business models needed to sustain or enable EU industrial leadership and competitiveness, and to create new markets for climate neutral and circular products. The shift towards a sustainable and inclusive economic model will be further enabled by the broader diffusion and uptake of digital and clean technologies across key sectors.

As Europe transitions towards climate neutrality, some sectors will have to make bigger and more transformative changes than others, due to their centrality in a variety of value chains and their large potential contribution to emissions reductions. Activities under this Destination focus on the twin green and digital transition providing a green productivity premium to discrete manufacturing, construction and energy-intensive industries, including process industries. This will make an essential and significant contribution to achieving climate neutrality in the European Union by 2050, and to the achievement of a circular economy. It will also enhance the Union’s open strategic autonomy with regard to the underlying technologies. To achieve these goals, the activities in this Destination are complementary to those in Destination 2, which will enhance open strategic autonomy in key strategic value chains for a resilient industry.

The gross added value of the European manufacturing sector is EUR 2,076 billion (2019). The sector employs more than 30 million people in the Union and represents 22% of the world’s manufacturing output. The Union’s trade surplus in manufactured goods is EUR 421 billion (2019). Similarly, the construction ecosystem (driven mainly by SMEs) offers 22 million jobs and contributes 10.5% of EU-27 global value added[['Updating the 2020 New Industrial Strategy: Building a stronger Single Market for Europe's recovery', COM(2021)350 final and associated Staff Working Documents]]. However, the manufacturing and construction sectors must significantly reduce their pollution and waste, and increase their recycling. Moreover, the potential of digital technologies is underused in manufacturing industry, e.g. 12% of EU enterprises use big data technologies and only 1 out of 5 SMEs is highly digitised, and in construction, which remains one of the least digitised sectors with a notable underinvestment in R&D.[[The digital intensity of the construction sector is below 10%, meaning that the sector has a very slow absorption rate of digital technologies, according to the Digital Transformation Scoreboard 2018, https://ec.europa.eu/information_society/newsroom/image/document/2018-20/4_desi_report_integration_of_digital_technology_B61BEB6B-F21D-9DD7-72F1FAA836E36515_52243.pdf]] A key issue for the manufacturing sector is that its complex supply and value chains are heavily affected by the current pandemic crisis, and the sector needs to further develop resilience against financial and technical disruptions.

In addition, the Union’s process industries are important to its economy, its resilience and its environmental credentials. Process industries are responsible for a turnover of > 2 trillion, 8.5 million direct jobs and 20 million indirect jobs. They represent 0.5 million enterprises and 5 % of the EU27 GDP. The process industry however faces two key challenges: a strong global competition, and an environmental challenge. In particular, energy-intensive industries are resource intensive, using extensive amounts of raw materials (often imported and fossil based). In their operations, they generate large amounts of waste, 20% of global greenhouse gases (GHG) but also pollutants. The industries need to transform itself to decrease GHG and pollutant emissions, its resource utilisation and its overall environmental impact. It will have to achieve climate neutrality, near zero waste, zero pollution and zero landfill by 2050 at the latest. By 2030, decisive steps need to be taken given the long investment cycles these industries are facing. As the process industry is transforming primary raw materials into materials ready for use by the manufacturing industry, it will play a key role in the pathways toward circularity of materials by transforming industrial and end-of-life waste into secondary raw materials leading to the same quality output in the newly produced materials.

In the first Work Programme, outcomes of R&I investments in the long-term will focus on the following impacts:

  • Accelerate the twin green and digital transition of the manufacturing and construction sectors;
  • Create a new green, flexible and digital way to build and produce goods. This will lead to sustainable, flexible, responsive and resilient factories and value chains, enabled by digitisation, AI, data sharing, advanced robotics and modularity. At the same time it will help reduce CO2 emissions and waste in these sectors, and enhance the durability, reparability and re-cycling of products/components. It will also ensure better and more efficient use of construction-generated data to sustain competitiveness and greening of the sector;
  • Make the jobs of the humans working in the manufacturing and construction sectors more attractive and safer, and point the way to opportunities for upskilling;
  • Set out a credible pathway to contributing to climate neutral, circular and digitalised energy intensive industries;
  • Increase productivity, innovation capacity, resilience, sustainability and global competitiveness of European energy intensive industries. This includes as many as possible new large hubs for circularity by 2025 (TRL 7 or above); developing sustainable ways for circular utilisation of waste streams and CO2/CO streams; and electrifying industry to enable and foster a switch to a renewable energy system;
  • Contribute to a substantial reduction of waste and CO2 emissions, turning them into alternative feedstocks to replace fossil-based raw materials and decrease reliance on imports.

In order to achieve the expected outcomes, for particular topics international cooperation is clearly not mandatory but advised with some regions or countries to get internationally connected and add additional specific expertise and value to the activities.

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.

To achieve wider effects activities beyond R&I investments will be needed. Three co-programmed partnerships will enhance dissemination, community building and foster spillover effects: Made in Europe for the manufacturing sectors, Clean Steel and Processes4Planet for the energy intensive industries. This destination has strong links to other clusters in Pillar II, notably Cluster 5 for the activities related to the integration of renewables and thermal energy management in industry, and 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 be sought to access blended funding and finance from other EU programmes; testing and deployment activities under the Digital Europe Programme (DEP); links to the EIT (Manufacturing and Digital KICs); and links to the thematic smart specialisation platform on industrial modernisation.

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.

The topics serving these objectives are structured as follows:

  • Green, flexible and advanced manufacturing
  • Advanced digital technologies for manufacturing
  • A new way to build, accelerating disruptive change in construction
  • Hubs for circularity, a stepping stone towards climate neutrality and circularity in industry
  • Enabling circularity of resources in the process industries, including waste, water and CO2/CO
  • Integration of Renewables and Electrification in process industry
Link Link to Programme
Call
Digital permits and compliance checks for buildings and infrastructure
Description of call
"Digital permits and compliance checks for buildings and infrastructure"

Expected Outcome:

Projects are expected to contribute to the following outcomes:

  • Efficiency and productivity gains in design and construction processes;
  • Fewer errors in planning, design and construction processes;
  • Automated, faster, more accurate and more efficient permitting and compliance for construction works (e.g. regulatory, health and safety, performance);
  • Improved build quality and resource efficiency in construction, in line with the aims of the New European Bauhaus initiative.

Scope:

There is a need to develop, connect and align new technologies and digital tools for construction, including improved and automated methods of designing, building and authorising construction works. The manual processing and delivery of administrative, legal and regulatory information such as planning and construction permits, and related compliance processes, are complicated and lengthy procedures. This leads to delays and ambiguity in the construction process, as well as errors, extra costs, waste and inefficiency.

Information generated or imported into digital models during early design phases can potentially streamline the application and granting of digital administrative permits. This will in turn facilitate informed decision making including compliance checks later in the design and construction process and throughout the life cycle of the built asset.

Proposals should:

  • Develop and demonstrate novel ways of digitalising permitting and compliance processes for construction works;
  • Demonstrate new tools and solutions for the storing, processing, analysis and retrieval of administrative and regulatory information related to construction works; and facilitate stakeholders to consult the current status of the process at all times. The new solutions should make use of neutral data formats, addressing rule interpretation and machine-readable information, and supporting analysis and exploitation of relevant digitalised acts, regulations, requirements and standards;
  • Ensure that the new solutions are interoperable and integrated, where relevant, with other relevant tools, databases and processes. These can include Building Information Models (BIM), Geographic Information Systems (GIS), public registries, Life Cycle Analysis data, digital twins including those of greater scale (e.g. city, regional or national level) with support for enabling Augmented Reality/Virtual reality and additional novel features, 3D cadastre, digital building logbooks, and models of larger scale of the built environment, including those that are handled by public authorities. Proposals should ensure that spatial information, where relevant, aligns with the aims of the INSPIRE Directive;
  • Ensure that the new solutions developed can handle a wide variety of relevant data, for example spatial and location data relating to the buildings or infrastructure and their context; urban height limits and setbacks; visual corridors or protected views; environmental information such as flood risk models and protected trees; cultural heritage rules and protections; utilities and services including energy, water and telecoms infrastructure;
  • Develop solutions that harness the potential of digitalisation to accelerate processes and improve productivity, open up new methods of working and business models. For example, proposals should make use of disruptive technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, algorithm based checks, Human Aided Design and Compliance;
  • Address potential barriers to the use of digital building permits and compliance checks including knowledge gaps, technology deployment, standards, and the regulatory and policy context;
  • Take into account the wide range of actors involved in applying for, receiving and using permits and the related compliance (e.g. design, engineering and other construction professionals, researchers, industry especially SMEs, and public authorities), taking into consideration questions of accessibility, inclusivity including gender issues, and user acceptance;
  • Take into account the international contexts and developments in construction-related data including BIM and GIS but also the capacities and opportunities presented in different parts of Europe. Proposals should therefore build on previous research, such as the outputs of the DigiPLACE project;
  • Address the potential for upskilling and re-skilling of the construction value chain as a result of the innovation;
  • Contribute to an EU-wide framework for the digitalisation and automation of machine readable permits and compliance checks for construction works, including by collaborating with similar projects including those funded under this call;
  • Develop technical guidelines and semantic models applicable to different EU countries.

Proposals submitted under this topic should include a business case and exploitation strategy, as outlined in the introduction to this Destination.

Finally, proposals should provide contributions to relevant standards and seek to ensure synergies with the Horizon Europe ‘Built4People’ co-programmed Partnership. Proposals may address any or all types of buildings and infrastructure as appropriate.

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, Competitiveness, SME, Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, Green Technologies & Green Deal, Circular Economy, Sustainability, Natural Resources, Climate, Climate Change, Environment & Biodiversity, Urban development, 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 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.
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: 45 pages

Type of Funding Grants
Financial details
Expected EU contribution per projectThe Commission estimates that an EU contribution of around EUR 5.00 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 15.00 million.
Typ of ActionInnovation Actions (IA)
Funding rate70% (except for non-profit legal entities, where a rate of up to 100% applies)

Activities are expected to start at TRL 5 and achieve TRL 7 by the end of the project.

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

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