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Programme: Horizon Europe

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Programme
Horizon Europe
Acronym HORIZON
Type of Fund Direct Management
Description of programme
"Horizon Europe"

Horizon Europe is the EU’s key funding programme for research and innovation with a budget of €95.5 billion running from 2021-2027.

It tackles climate change, helps to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and boosts the EU’s competitiveness and growth.

The programme facilitates collaboration and strengthens the impact of research and innovation in developing, supporting and implementing EU policies while tackling global challenges. It supports creating and better dispersing of excellent knowledge and technologies.

It creates jobs, fully engages the EU’s talent pool, boosts economic growth, promotes industrial competitiveness and optimises investment impact within a strengthened European Research Area.

The EU institutions reached a political agreement on Horizon Europe on 11 December 2020. The first Horizon Europe Strategic Plan (2021-2024) which sets out key strategic orientations for the support of research and innovation, was adopted on 15 March 2021.

Pillar I - Excellent Science

European Research Council

Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions

Research Infrastructures

Pillar II - Global Challenges and European Industrial Competitiveness

Clusters

Non-nuclear direct actions of the Joint Research Centre

Pillar III - Innovative Europe

European Innovation Council

European Innovation Ecosystems

European Institute of Innovation and Technology

Widening participation and strengthening the European Research Area
Widening participation and spreading excellenceReforming and enhancing the European Research and Innovation system

 

The work programme for the European Research Council (ERC) was adopted on 22 February 2021. The work programme for the European Innovation Council (EIC) was adopted on 17 March and the EIC was formally launched on 18 March.

On June 16, 2021, the European Commission adopted the 2021-2022 work program for the Horizon Europe research and innovation funding program. It sets out the objectives and thematic areas for which a total of 14.7 billion will be allocated. These investments will in particular accelerate the environmental and digital transformation, contribute to a sustainable recovery of Corona and increase the EU's resilience to crises.


Strategic planning and the first strategic plan (2021-2024)

The strategic planning process focuses in particular on Pillar II of Horizon Europe, "Global challenges and European industrial competitiveness" and also covers relevant activities in other pillars and the Widening Participation and Strengthening the European Research Area part.

The result of this strategic planning is set out in a multiannual strategic plan, for preparing the content of the work programmes covering a maximum period of four years.

The strategic plan contains

  • key strategic orientations for research and innovation support and their targeted impact
  • identification of European co-funded and co-programmed partnerships
  • identification of EU missions
  • areas of international cooperation
  • orientations on specific issues like social sciences and humanities, gender, and the role of key enabling technologies

Missions in Horizon Europe

Horizon Europe will incorporate research and innovation missions to increase the effectiveness of funding by pursuing clearly defined targets. The Commission has engaged policy experts to develop studies, case studies and reports on how a mission-oriented policy approach will work.

Mission areas

Five mission areas have been identified, each with a dedicated mission board and assembly. The board and assembly help specify, design and implement the specific missions which will launch under Horizon Europe in 2021.


European Partnerships in Horizon Europe

Horizon Europe will support European Partnerships in which the EU, national authorities and/or the private sector jointly commit to support the development and implementation of a programme of research and innovation activities. The goal of European Partnerships is to contribute to the achievement of EU priorities, address complex challenges outlined in Horizon Europe and strengthen the European Research Area (ERA). The partnerships will aim, for example, to upgrade the preparedness and response to infectious diseases, develop efficient low-carbon aircraft for clean aviation, or improve animal health. The Horizon Europe proposal lays down the conditions and principles for establishing European Partnerships.

Link Link to Programme
Thematic Focus Children & Youth, Education & Training, Employment & Labour Market, Clustering, Development Cooperation, Economic Cooperation, Demographic Change, Migration, Digitisation, ICT, Telecommunication, Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, Research & Innovation, Technology Transfer & Exchange, Health, Social Affairs, Sports, Equal Rights, Human Rights, People with Disabilities, Social Inclusion, Green Technologies & Green Deal, Community Integration, European Citizenship, Shared Services, Justice, Safety & Security, Capacity Building, Cooperation Networks, Institutional Cooperation, Disaster Prevention, Resiliance, Risk Management, Climate, Climate Change, Environment & Biodiversity, Circular Economy, Sustainability, Natural Resources, Art & Culture, Cultural Heritage, History, Media, Agriculture & Forestry, Fishery, Food, Rural & Peripheral Development, Mobility & Transport/Traffic , Regional Development & Regional Planning, Urban development, Tourism, Consumer Protection, Administration & Governance, Competitiveness, SME
EU Macro-Regions
Adriatic and Ionian Region, Alpine Region, Baltic Sea Region, Danube Region
Funding area EU Member States
Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs)
Origin of Applicant EU Member States
Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs)
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.

The JRC, international European research organisations and legal entities created under EU law are deemed to be established in a Member State other than those in which the other legal entities participating in the action are established. Applications for ‘Training and mobility’actions and for ‘Programme co-fund’ actions may be submitted by one or more legal entities, provided that one of those legal entities is established in a Member State or an Associated Country. Applications for ‘Coordination and support’ actions may be submitted by one or more legal entities, which may be established in a Member State, Associated Country or, in exceptional cases and if provided for in the specific call conditions, in another third country. Applications for ‘Pre-commercial procurement’ actions and ‘Public procurement of innovative solutions’ actions must include as beneficiaries a ‘buyers’ group’. This group must consist of a minimum of two independent legal entities that are public procurers, each established in a different Member State or Associated Country and with at least one of them established in a Member State.

Eligible applicants Education and Training Centres, Federal State / Region / City / Municipality / Local Authority, Research Institution, Lobby Group / Professional Association / Trade Union, Small and Medium Sized Enterprises, SMEs (between 10 and 249 employees), International Organization, Microenterprises (fewer than 10 employees), NGO / NPO, Public Services, Other, National Government, 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.
Type of Funding Grants

Subprogrammes of Horizon Europe

European Research Council - Work Programme 2021

The fundamental activity of the ERC is to provide attractive, long-term funding to support excellent investigators and their research teams to pursue groundbreaking, high-gain/high-risk research.
The ERC puts particular emphasis on the frontiers of science, scholarship and engineering. In particular, it encourages proposals of a multi- or interdisciplinary nature which cross the boundaries between different fields of research, pioneering proposals addressing new and emerging fields of research or proposals introducing unconventional, innovative approaches and scientific inventions.

Horizon Europe - Cluster 5 - Destination 1: Climate sciences and responses for the transformation towards climate neutrality

Europe has been at the forefront of climate science and should retain its leadership position to support EU policies as well as international efforts for a global uptake of climate action in line with the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including biodiversity objectives. Advancing climate science and further broadening and deepening the knowledge base is essential to inform the societal transition towards a climate neutral and climate resilient society by 2050, as well as towards a more ambitious greenhouse gas reduction target by 2030. It will involve research that furthers our understanding of past, present and expected future changes in climate and its implications on ecosystems and society, closing knowledge gaps, and develops the tools that support policy coherence and the implementation of effective mitigation and adaptation solutions. Due to the inherent international character of this subject, international collaboration is encouraged for topics under this destination.

The activities implemented under this section will enable the transition to a climate-neutral and resilient society and economy through improving the knowledge of the Earth system and the ability to predict and project its changes under different natural and socio-economic drivers, including a better understanding of society’s response and behavioural changes, and allowing a better estimation of the impacts of climate change and the design and evaluation of solutions and pathways for climate change mitigation and adaptation and related social transformation.

This Destination contributes directly to the Strategic Plan’s Key Strategic Orientation C ”Making Europe the first digitally enabled circular, climate-neutral and sustainable economy through the transformation of its mobility, energy, construction and production systems” and the impact area “Climate change mitigation and adaptation”.

In line with the Strategic Plan, the overall expected impact of this Destination is to contribute to the “Transition to a climate-neutral and resilient society and economy enabled through advanced climate science, pathways and responses to climate change (mitigation and adaptation) and behavioural transformations”, notably through:

  1. Advancing knowledge and providing solutions in the any of following areas: Earth system science; pathways to climate neutrality; climate change adaptation including climate services; social science for climate action; and better understanding of climate-ecosystems interactions.
  2. Contributing substantially to key international assessments such as those of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) or the European Environment Agency (e.g. European environment state and outlook reports, SOER).
  3. Strengthening the European Research Area on climate change.
  4. Increasing the transparency, robustness, trustworthiness and practical usability of the knowledge base on climate change for use by policy makers, practitioners, other stakeholders and citizens.

Coordination and synergies between activities supported under Destination 1, as well as in other Destinations and Clusters, and in particular complementarities with Cluster 4 and Cluster 6 should be taken into account by planning for adequate resources for co-ordination and clustering activities. Following a systemic approach, Destination 1 concentrates on activities related to climate science and modelling, whereas Cluster 6 supports R&I in the areas covered by Cluster 6, notably on the implementation of climate change mitigation and adaptation solutions.

Horizon Europe - Cluster 5 - Destination 3: Sustainable, secure and competitive energy supply

This Destination includes activities targeting a sustainable, secure and competitive energy supply. In line with the scope of cluster 5, this includes activities in the areas of renewable energy; energy system, grids and storage; as well as Carbon Capture, Utilization and Storage (CCUS).

The transition of the energy system will rely on reducing the overall energy demand and making the energy supply side climate neutral. R&I actions will help to make the energy supply side cleaner, more secure, and competitive by boosting cost performance and reliability of a broad portfolio of renewable energy solutions, in line with societal needs and preferences. Furthermore, R&I activities will underpin the modernisation of the energy networks to support energy system integration, including the progressive electrification of demand side sectors (buildings, mobility, industry) and integration of other climate neutral, renewable energy carriers, such as clean hydrogen. Innovative energy storage solutions (including chemical, mechanical, electrical and thermal storage) are a key element of such energy system and R&I actions will advance their technological readiness for industrial-scale and domestic applications. Carbon Capture, Utilisation and Storage (CCUS) is a CO2 emission abatement option that holds great potential and R&I actions will accelerate the development of CCUS in electricity generation and industry applications.

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;

It covers the following impact areas:

  • Industrial leadership in key and emerging technologies that work for people;
  • Affordable and clean energy.

The expected impact, in line with the Strategic Plan, is to contribute to “More efficient, clean, sustainable, secure and competitive energy supply through new solutions for smart grids and energy systems based on more performant renewable energy solutions”, notably through

  1. Fostering European global leadership in affordable, secure and sustainable renewable energy technologies and services by improving their competitiveness in global value chains and their position in growth markets, notably through the diversification of the renewable services and technology portfolio (more detailed information below).
  2. Ensuring cost-effective uninterrupted and affordable supply of energy to households and industries in a scenario of high penetration of variable renewables and other new low carbon energy supply. This includes more efficient approaches to managing smart and cyber-secure energy grids and optimisation the interaction between producers, consumers, networks, infrastructures and vectors (more detailed information below).
  3. Accelerating the development of Carbon Capture, Use and Storage (CCUS) as a CO2 emission mitigation option in electricity generation and industry applications (including also conversion of CO2 to products) (more detailed information below).

Fostering the European global leadership in affordable, secure and sustainable renewable energy technologies

Renewable energy technologies provide major opportunities to replace or substitute carbon from fossil origin in the power sector and in other economic sectors such as heating/cooling, transportation, agriculture and industry. Their large scale and decentralised deployment is expected to create more jobs than the fossil fuel equivalent. Renewable energy technologies are the baseline on which to build a sustainable European and global climate-neutral future. A strong global European leadership in renewable energy technologies, coupled with circularity and sustainability, will pave the way to increase energy security and reliability.

It is imperative to enhance affordability, security, sustainability and efficiency for more established renewable energy technologies (such as wind energy, photovoltaics or bioenergy), and to further diversify the technology portfolio. Furthermore, advanced renewable fuels, including synthetic and sustainable advanced biofuels, are also needed to provide long-term carbon-neutral solutions for the transport and energy-intensive industrial sectors, in particular for applications where direct electrification is not a technically and cost efficient option.

Synergies with activities in cluster 4 are possible for integrating renewable energy technologies and solutions in energy consuming industries. Complementarities with cluster 6 concern mainly biomass-related activities.

In line with the “do not harm” principle for the environment, actions for all renewable energy technologies aim to also improve the environmental sustainability of the technologies, delivering products with reduced greenhouse gas emissions and improved environmental performance regarding water use, circularity, pollution and ecosystems. In particular, for biofuels and bioenergy improving the environmental sustainability is associated to the biomass conversion part of the value chain and the quality of the product, while air pollution associated to combustion in engines falls in the scope of other parts of the WP.

The main impacts to be generated by topics targeting the renewable energy technologies and solutions under this Destination are:

  1. Availability of disruptive renewable energy and renewable fuel technologies and systems in 2050 in order to accelerate the replacement of fossil-based energy technologies.
  2. Reduced cost and improved efficiency of renewable energy and renewable fuel technologies and their value chains.
  3. De-risking of renewable energy and fuel technologies with a view to their commercial exploitation and net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
  4. Better integration of renewable energy and renewable fuel-based solutions in energy consuming sectors.
  5. Reinforced European scientific basis and European export potential for renewable energy technologies through international collaboration (notably with Africa in renewable energy technologies and renewable fuels and enhanced collaboration with Mission Innovation countries).
  6. Enhanced sustainability of renewable energy and renewable fuels value chains, taking fully into account social, economic and environmental aspects in line with the European Green Deal priorities.
  7. More effective market uptake of renewable energy and fuel technologies.

Energy systems, grids and storage

Efficient and effective network management is the key to the integration of renewables in an efficient way that ensures cost-effectiveness and affordability, security of supply and grid stability. Real time monitoring and optimisation are necessary to increase the flexibility, through solutions such as storage, demand response or flexible generation among others, to integrate higher shares of variable renewable energy. Exploiting synergies between electricity, heating and cooling networks, gas networks, transport infrastructure and digital infrastructure will be crucial for enabling the smart, integrated, flexible, green and sustainable operation of the relevant infrastructures. Besides hydrogen and batteries (addressed elsewhere), R&I in other storage technologies, in particular thermal storage but also electrochemical, chemical, mechanical and electrical storage solutions is necessary to create a set of flexibility options.

Activities on energy systems, grids and storage under this Destination will primarily focus on the systemic aspects to enhance the flexibility and resilience of the system, in particular: integrated energy system planning and operation, engaging consumers and providing new services, electricity system reliability and resilience, storage development and integration and green digitalisation of the energy system.

Moreover, the role of citizens and communities is key when it comes to making the flexibility at appliance level available for the grid. Related to this, the inclusion of social sciences and humanities (SSH) where relevant is essential to build the social acceptance of new energy technologies and increase participation of consumers in energy markets.

All projects will contribute to an increased capacity of the system to integrate renewable energy sources and less curtailment at transmission and distribution level. The main expected impacts are:

  1. Increased resilience of the energy system based on improved and/or new technologies to control the system and maintain system stability under difficult circumstances.
  2. Increased flexibility and resilience of the energy system, based on technologies and tools to plan and operate different networks for different energy carriers simultaneously in a coordinated manner that will also contribute to climate neutrality of hard-to-electrify sectors.
  3. Enhance consumer satisfaction and increased system flexibility thanks to enabling consumers to benefit from data-driven energy services and facilitating their investment and engagement in the energy transition, through self-consumption, demand response or joint investments in renewables (either individually or through energy communities or micro-grids).
  4. Improved energy storage technologies, in particular heat storage but also others such as electrochemical, chemical, mechanical and electrical.
  5. Foster the European market for new energy services and business models as well as tested standardised and open interfaces of energy devices through a higher degree of interoperability, increased data availability and easier data exchange among energy companies as well as companies using energy system data.
  6. More effective and efficient solutions for transporting off-shore energy thanks to new electricity transmission technologies, in particular using superconducting technologies, power electronics and hybrid Alternate Current – Direct Current grid solutions as well as MT HVDC (Multi Terminal High Voltage Direct Current) solutions.

Carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS)

CCUS will play a crucial role in the EU Green Deal for the transition of energy-intensive industries and the power sector towards climate neutrality. Supporting R&I for CCUS will be particularly important in those industries where other alternatives do not yet exist like the cement industry. This will be highly relevant towards 2050, when most electricity will be coming from renewables, but the need to tackle the process emissions from industry will continue. If CCUS is combined with sustainable biomass, it could create negative emissions.

Low carbon hydrogen from natural gas with CCUS could also play a significant role in industrial climate neutrality, in the transition towards full use of hydrogen from renewable sources, in particular in industries such as steel making, chemicals, or refining where large quantities of hydrogen are needed. CCUS would enable early, clean hydrogen at scale. The hydrogen infrastructure built for clean hydrogen with CCUS could be also shared by hydrogen from renewable sources. It is thus important to develop CCUS for industrial clusters, including aspects of system planning, shared infrastructure solutions such as buffer storage, shared CO2 and hydrogen transportation and infrastructure optimisation for CCS and CCU.

Demonstration of the full CCUS chain is needed in the EU, with special emphasis on the reduction of the energy penalty and cost of capture and on ascertaining safe storage. Under the EU Strategic Energy Technology Plan (SET Plan) ambitious R&I targets have been set in agreement with the sectorial stakeholders. The focus is on CO2 storage appraisal, cost-reductions, new technologies and proliferation of pilots and demonstrators.

Synergies with cluster 4 exist on the use of CO2.

The main impacts to be generated by topics targeting the renewable energy technologies and solutions under this Destination are:

  1. Accelerated rollout of infrastructure for CCUS hubs and clusters.
  2. Updated authoritative body of knowledge on connecting industrial CO2 sources with potential ‘bankable storage sites, providing greater confidence for decision makers and investors.
  3. Proven feasibility of integrating CO2 capture, CO2 storage and CO2 use in industrial facilities. Demonstrating these technologies at industrial scale shall pave the way for subsequent first-of-a-kind industrial projects.
  4. Reduced cost of the CCUS value chain, with CO2 capture being still the most relevant stumbling block for a wider application of CCUS.
  5. Adequate frameworks for Measurement, Monitoring and Verification (MMV) for storage projects, to document safe storage and for public acceptance of the technology.

Horizon Europe - Cluster 5 - Destination 5: Clean and competitive solutions for all transport modes

This Destination addresses activities that improve the climate and environmental footprint, as well as competitiveness, of different transport modes.

The transport sector is responsible for 23% of CO2 emissions and remains dependent on oil for 92% of its energy demand. While there has been significant technological progress over past decades, projected GHG emissions are not in line with the objectives of the Paris Agreement due to the expected increase in transport demand. Intensified research and innovation activities are therefore needed, across all transport modes and in line with societal needs and preferences, in order for the EU to reach its policy goals towards a net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and to reduce significantly air pollutants.

The areas of rail and air traffic management will be addressed through dedicated Institutional European Partnerships and are therefore not included in this document.

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.

It covers the following impact areas:

  • Industrial leadership in key and emerging technologies that work for people;
  • Smart and sustainable transport.

The expected impact, in line with the Strategic Plan, is to contribute “Towards climate-neutral and environmental friendly mobility through clean solutions across all transport modes while increasing global competitiveness of the EU transport sector", notably through:

  1. Transforming road transport to zero-emission mobility through a world-class European research and innovation and industrial system, ensuring that Europe remains world leader in innovation, production and services in relation to road transport (more detailed information below).
  2. Accelerating the reduction of all aviation impacts and emissions (CO2 and non-CO2, including manufacturing and end-of-life, noise), developing aircraft technologies for deep reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, and maintaining European aero-industry’s global leadership position (more detailed information below).
  3. Accelerate the development and prepare the deployment of climate neutral and clean solutions in the shipping sector, reduce its environmental impact (on biodiversity, noise, pollution and waste management), improve its system efficiency, leverage digital and EU satellite-navigation solutions and contribute to the competitiveness of the European waterborne sector (more detailed information below).
  4. Devising more effective ways for reducing emissions and their impacts through improved scientific knowledge (more detailed information below).

Zero-emission road transport

With the aim of accelerating the development and deployment of zero tailpipe emission road transport with a system approach in Europe, the European Partnership “Towards zero emission road transport” (2Zero) will work towards a common vision and delivering a multi-stakeholders roadmap for a climate neutral and clean road transport system that improves mobility and safety of people and goods and ensures future European leadership in innovation, production and services.

The transformation towards zero tailpipe emission road mobility will deliver tangible benefits including, at the local scale, pollutant emission reductions, cleaner air (including unregulated pollutants, nanoparticles and secondary pollutants), reduced noise, increased accessibility and more liveable urban plus peri-urban spaces. Major benefits for citizens’ health and quality of life will be generated, and European economic growth will be supported, hence a solid base for new business opportunities will be created. Within 2Zero, priority will be given to the development of drivetrains for zero emission heavy-duty long-haul vehicles, where progress is lagging behind other sectors of road transport.

Several levels of interactions are foreseen with other European initiatives, in particular with the Industrial Battery Value Chain (Batteries) and the Cooperative Connected and Automated Mobility (CCAM) co-programmed partnerships, as well as Clean Hydrogen Europe (CHE) and the Mission on Climate Neutral and Smart Cities.

The main impacts to be generated by topics targeting zero emission road transport under this Destination are:

  1. Accelerated uptake of zero tailpipe emission, affordable, user-centric solutions (technologies and services) for road-based mobility all across Europe.
  2. Increased user acceptance, improved air quality, a more circular economy and reduction of environmental impacts.
  3. Affordable, user-friendly charging infrastructure concepts and technologies that include vehicle-grid-interactions.
  4. Innovative use cases for the integration of zero tailpipe emission vehicles, and infrastructure concepts for the road mobility of people and goods.
  5. Effective design, assessment and deployment of innovative concepts in road vehicles and mobility services thanks to life-cycle analysis tools and skills, in a circular economy context.

Aviation

Aviation, the climate and the economy are all inherently global and interlinked. Aviation’s global economic impact, before COVID-19, was more than €2.4 trillion per year, while the European one was more than EUR 700 billion per year. However, the environmental impact, although in absolute terms small, it is projected to increase towards 2050 to a level that is not compatible with the Paris Agreement, if action is not taken now.

The proposed European aviation R&I in Horizon Europe will follow a policy-driven approach along the two main priorities (i.e. climate neutrality by 2050 and digital transformation) and implemented in three streams of activities:

  1. Collaborative aviation R&I under this Destination of the cluster 5 work programme focuses on transformative low-TRL (1-4) technologies, notably precompetitive fundamental aviation research and technologies for future development, validation and integration activities, in line with climate neutrality by 2050 and the new Industrial Strategy for Europe.
  2. The European Partnership Clean Aviation (EPCA) focuses on three clearly identified paths, as described in Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda (SRIA). It aims at accelerating the development, integration and validation of climate-neutral aviation technologies (TRL 4-6), for earliest possible deployment.
  3. The European Partnership for Integrated Air Traffic Management (IATM) focuses on solutions that will support evolving demand for using the European sky, increased expectations on the quality of ATM and U-space service provision, transforming and optimising how ATM and U-space services are provided as well as accelerating market uptake. The focus of the IATM (IATM) is on digitisation, automation and Artificial Intelligence.

While these three work streams will work in complementarity, all propulsion technologies for integration at engine level will be developed exclusively in EPCA.

The main impacts to be generated by topics targeting aviation under this Destination are:

  • Disruptive gains by 2035, with up to 30% reduction in fuel burn and CO2 between the existing aircraft in service and the next generation, compared to 12-15% in previous replacement cycles (when not explicitly defined, baselines refer to the best available aircraft of the same category with entry into service prior to year 2020).
  • Disruptive technologies entering into service by 2035 as well as 2050, based on new energy carriers, hybrid-electric architectures, next generation of ultra-high efficient engines and new aircraft configurations.
  • New technologies for significantly lower local air-pollution and noise.
  • Increased understanding of aviation’s non-CO2 climate impacts, enabling R&I activities to more effectively contribute to the EU’s climate targets.
  • Maintain global competitiveness and leadership of the European aeronautics industry and the whole aviation ecosystem, including modernization of Air-Traffic Management by leveraging space-based services.
  • Protect the passenger and increase the resilience of the aviation ecosystem to external shocks (e.g. health issues, manufacturing, operations, cybersecurity).
  • Deliver an EU policy-driven planning and assessment framework/toolbox towards a coherent R&I prioritization and timely development of technologies in all three pillars of Horizon Europe.

Enabling climate neutral, clean, smart, and competitive waterborne transport

The European Green Deal refers to the need to achieve clean, climate neutral shipping and waterborne operations and to the importance of research and innovation in this respect. Waterborne transport, in particular where large sea-going vessels are used, remains an important emitter of GHG and the sector needs to step up its efforts on a significant scale and through a wide range of measures. Within the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) global agreement was reached in 2018 to cut total shipping GHG emissions by at least 50% by 2050 compared to 2008 (baseline). The EU considers this too timid and is committed to a much higher level of ambition. By the same date the Union aims to cut all transport emissions by at least 90%.

Even though the share of Inland Waterway Transport with regard to global GHG emissions is of minor importance the Central Commission for the Navigation of the Rhine (CCNR) and its Member States take various steps to reduce the GHG emissions of the fleet. In 2018 the Mannheim Declaration was adopted which incorporates the EU GHG reducing targets for inland navigation and these efforts are supported through this work programme.

To provide the innovations needed to achieve the targets and show global leadership (also in pushing far more ambitious global regulatory standards) a new co-programmed European Partnership “Zero Emission Waterborne Transport” (ZEWT) will mobilise resources and leverage private and public investments towards the central objective of demonstrating by 2030 the deployable solutions needed for all main types of waterborne transport to become “net zero emission” by 2050 at the latest. Most topics on waterborne transport will contribute to the implementation of this partnership. Projects under ZEWT partnership topics are expected to provide up to two presentations on progress made to the ZEWT partnership members, also with the aim to support the monitoring of the ZEWT partnership performance as well the necessary underlying development to make these achievements possible within the time frame of the partnership.

Furthermore, in the context of the EU’s digital strategy “A Europe Fit for the Digital Age” the waterborne transport sector will have to embrace a wide-ranging digitalisation, resulting in new business patterns, smart ports, automation of shipping and cargo handling (which will provide higher efficiency and significantly safer operations), autonomous vessels, and new design and decision tools.

Topics on waterborne transport under this Destination of the cluster 5 work programme address climate neutrality and protection of the marine environment, digitalisation, and industrial competitiveness with the aim to support all pertinent EU policy objectives, also with regard to synergies with related programmes like the Connecting Europe Facility and the EU Innovation Fund.

The main impacts to be generated by topics targeting waterborne transport under this Destination are:

  1. Increased and early deployment of climate neutral fuels and significant electrification of shipping, in particular and foremost in intra-European transport connections.
  2. Increased overall energy efficiency and drastically lower fuel consumption of vessels (important in light of more expensive alternative fuels for which the sector will have to compete with other transport modes).
  3. Enable the innovative port infrastructure (bunkering of alternative fuels and provision of electrical power) needed to achieve zero-emission waterborne transport (inland and maritime).
  4. Enable clean, climate-neutral, and climate-resilient inland waterway vessels before 2030 helping a significant market take-up and a comprehensive green fleet renewal which will also help modal shift.
  5. Strong technological and operational momentum towards achieving climate neutrality and the elimination of all harmful pollution to air and water.
  6. Achieve the smart, efficient, secure and safe integration of maritime and inland shipping into logistic chains, facilitated by full digitalisation and automation.
  7. Enable fully automated shipping (maritime and inland) and efficient connectivity.
  8. Competitive waterborne industries, including the globally active European maritime technology sector, providing the advanced green and digital technologies which will support jobs and growth in Europe.

Impact of transport on environment and human health

Transport emissions are one of the main contributors to air quality problems, particularly in urban areas. At the same time, noise also negatively affects health. The World Health Organization (WHO) has classified traffic noise, including road, rail and air traffic, as the second most important cause of ill health in Western Europe, behind only air pollution caused by very fine particulate matter. Transport noise, particularly from road traffic, but also from rail and aviation, is a major contributor to noise pollution in urban areas. While type-approval noise limits for road vehicles, including their tyres, have been tightened over the years, the overall exposure to noise generated by road vehicles has not improved mainly due to increasing traffic volumes. L category vehicles are often perceived as a significant contributors to noise pollution and this might be due to the fact that noise emissions seem to be strictly optimised for specific conditions (but also due to tampering by their users, which in some cases is made too easy by the way the vehicles are built).

Electrification promises to address most of these issues, but as some transport modes are more difficult to electrify in the near future, there is need for research and innovation activities to develop appropriate and environmentally sustainable solutions. Furthermore, possible new pollutants and related health- challenges need to be monitored and investigated, and ways to deal with emissions by the existing fleet need to be studied and demonstrated.

The main impacts to be generated by topics targeting transport-related health and environmental issues under this Destination are:

  1. The reduction of road vehicle polluting emissions (looking at both regulated, unregulated and emerging ones) from both existing and future automotive fleets; prevention of smog episodes in Europe and a better understanding of the impact of air and noise pollution on human health (including potential sex and gender differences) .
  2. The better monitoring of the environmental performance and enforcement of regulation (detection of defeat devices, tampered anti-pollution systems, etc.) of fleets of transport vehicles, be it on road, airports and ports.
  3. The reduction of noise emitted by L category road vehicles.
  4. Substantially reduce the overall environmental impact of transport (e.g.: as regards biodiversity, noise, pollution and waste)

Horizon Europe - Cluster 5 - Destination 6: Safe, Resilient Transport and Smart Mobility services for passengers and goods

This Destination includes activities addressing safe and smart mobility services for passengers and goods.

Europe needs to manage the transformation of supply-based transport into safe, resilient and sustainable transport and demand-driven, smart mobility services for passengers and goods. Suitable research and innovation will enable significant safety, environmental, economic and social benefits by reducing accidents caused by human error, decreasing traffic congestion, reducing energy consumption and emissions of vehicles, increasing efficiency and productivity of freight transport operations. To succeed in this transformation, Europe’s ageing (and not always sustainable) transport infrastructure needs to be prepared for enabling cleaner and smarter operations.

Europe needs also to maintain a high-level of transport safety for its citizens. Resilience should be built in the transport systems to prevent, mitigate and recover from disruptions. Research and innovation will underpin the three safety pillars: technologies, regulations and human factors.

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.

It covers the following impact areas:

  • Industrial leadership in key and emerging technologies that work for people;
  • Smart and sustainable transport.

The expected impact, in line with the Strategic Plan, is to contribute to “Safe, seamless, smart, inclusive, resilient and sustainable mobility systems for people and goods thanks to user-centric technologies and services including digital technologies and advanced satellite navigation services”, notably through:

  1. Accelerating the implementation of innovative connected, cooperative and automated mobility (CCAM) technologies and systems for passengers and goods (more detailed information below).
  2. Further developing a multimodal transport system through sustainable and smart long-haul and urban freight transport and logistics, upgraded and resilient physical and digital infrastructures for smarter vehicles and operations, for optimised system-wide network efficiency (more detailed information below).
  3. Drastically decreasing the number of transport accidents, incidents and fatalities towards the EU’s long-term goal of moving close to zero fatalities and serious injuries by 2050 even in road transportation (Vision Zero) and increase the resilience of transport systems (more detailed information below).

Connected, Cooperative and Automated Mobility (CCAM)

The aim of relevant topics under this Destination is to accelerate the implementation of innovative connected, cooperative and automated mobility (CCAM) technologies and systems. Actions will help to develop new mobility concepts for passengers and goods – enabled by CCAM - leading to healthier, safer, more accessible, sustainable, cost-effective and demand-responsive transport everywhere. CCAM solutions will shift design and development from a driver-centred to mobility-user oriented approach, providing viable alternatives for private vehicle ownership while increasing inclusiveness of mobility. CCAM must be integrated in the whole transport system to fully exploit the potential benefits of CCAM and minimise potential adverse effects, such as increasingly congested traffic or new risks in mixed traffic environments.

The focus is on road transport, but relevant interfaces with other modes (for instance transfers and integration with public transport or rail freight transport) will be considered.

All technologies, solutions, testing and demonstration activities resulting from these actions should be documented fully and transparently, to ensure replicability, increase adoption, up-scaling, assist future planning decisions and EU and national policy-making and increase citizen buy-in.

Actions are in line with the recommendations of the new European Partnership on CCAM. The Vision of the Partnership is: “European leadership in safe and sustainable road transport through automation”. It aims to harmonise European R&I efforts to accelerate the implementation of innovative CCAM technologies and services. It aims to exploit the full systemic benefits of new mobility solutions enabled by CCAM. The European Partnership on CCAM plans to closely cooperate with other European Partnerships, in particular with “Towards zero emission road transport” (2ZERO), “Driving Urban Transitions” (DUT), “Key digital technologies” (KDT), “Smart networks and services” (SNS) and “AI, data and robotics” (AI). The European Partnership will establish cooperation mechanisms to ensure close interaction when defining R&I actions to maximise synergies and avoid overlaps.

R&I actions taking place at a socio-technical level aiming to better understand the science-society relationship (particularly when social practices, market uptake or ownership are concerned) should favour solutions that are grounded in social innovation in order to achieve its desired outcomes, i.e. by matching innovative ideas with social needs and by forming new collaborations between public and private actors, including civil society and researchers from the Social Sciences and Humanities (SSH).

To test CCAM solutions, applicants can seek possibilities of involving the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) in order to valorise the relevant expertise and physical facilities of JRC in demonstrating and testing energy and mobility applications of the JRC Living Lab for Future Urban Ecosystems https://ec.europa.eu/jrc/en/research-facility/living-labs-at-the-jrc

The main impacts to be generated by topics targeting connected, cooperative and automated mobility under this Destination are:

  • Validated safety and security, improved robustness and resilience of CCAM technologies and systems.
  • Secure and trustworthy interaction between road users, CCAM and “conventional” vehicles, infrastructure and services to achieve safer and more efficient transport flows (people and goods) and better use of infrastructure capacity.
  • Seamless, affordable and user oriented CCAM based mobility and goods deliveries for all and high public acceptance of these services with clear understanding of its benefits and limits as well as rebound effects; based on the changing mobility needs and desires of a society in transition (digitally and environmentally).
  • Better coordination of R&I and large-scale testing activities in Europe and expanded knowledge base on CCAM solutions.
  • European leadership in the development and deployment of connected and automated mobility and logistics services and systems, ensuring long-term growth and jobs.

Multimodal and sustainable transport systems for passengers and goods

Multimodal and sustainable transport systems are the backbone for efficient mobility of passengers and freight. In particular, the areas of infrastructure, logistics and network/traffic management play a major role in making mobility and transport climate neutral, also through the digitalisation of the sectors. At the same time, being vulnerable to climate change and other disruptions, resilience in these three areas need to be increased. New and advanced infrastructures across all transport modes are required to enable the introduction of new vehicles, operations and mobility services. Furthermore, efficient and smart multimodal logistics are key for seamless and sustainable long-haul, regional and urban freight transport movements. Finally, dynamic multimodal network and traffic management systems are the “glue” of the entire transport network, for optimised door-to-door mobility of both passengers and freight.

To test solutions related to multimodal and sustainable transport systems for passengers and good, applicants may seek possibilities of involving the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) in order to valorise the relevant expertise and physical facilities of JRC in demonstrating and testing energy and mobility applications of the JRC Living Lab for Future Urban Ecosystems[[https://ec.europa.eu/jrc/en/research-facility/living-labs-at-the-jrc]].

The main impacts to be generated by topics targeting Multimodal and sustainable transport systems for passengers and goods under this Destination are:

  • Upgraded and resilient physical and digital infrastructure for clean, accessible, affordable, connected and automated multimodal mobility.
  • Sustainable and smart long-haul, regional and urban freight transport and logistics, through increased efficiency, improved interconnectivity and smart enforcement.
  • Reduced external costs (e.g. congestion, traffic jams, emissions, air and noise pollution, road collisions) of urban, peri-urban (regional) and long distance freight transport as well as optimised system-wide network efficiency and resilience.
  • Enhanced local and/or regional capacity for governance and innovation in urban mobility and logistics.

Safety and resilience - per mode and across all transport modes

Safety and resilience are of primary concern for any transport system. The EU set ambitious targets in its 2011 Transport White Paper, the third Mobility Package and, more recently, the Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy[[COM(2020) 789 final.]]. COVID-19 has been a stark reminder of the importance of resilience to external disruptions, particularly for transport. Research and innovation will underpin the three pillars affecting safety and resilience: technologies; regulations (alongside acceptable level of risks); and human factors (individual and organisational aspects, including interaction with automation). The approach is risk-based and systemic, including transport means/vehicles, infrastructure, the physical environment (e.g. weather) and the various actors (e.g. manufacturers, regulators, operators, users) as well as all their interfaces, including certification and standardisation bodies.

Synergies should be exploited across research at national, EU and international level together with national authorities, EU agencies and international organisations to improve rulemaking, safety promotion and oversight.

The main impacts to be generated by topics targeting transport safety and resilience under this Destination are:

Safety in Urban Areas/ Road Transport Safety

  • 50% reduction in serious injuries and fatalities in road crashes by 2030.
  • Improved reliability and performance of systems that aim to anticipate and minimize safety risks, avoiding risks and collisions, and reducing the consequences of unavoidable crashes.
  • Drastic reduction of road fatalities and serious crash injuries in low and medium income countries in Africa.
  • Better design principles of future road transport systems enabling also better traffic flow in big cities.

Waterborne Safety and Resilience

  • Ensure healthy passenger shipping by preventing and mitigating the spread of contagious diseases and infections.

Aviation Safety and Resilience

  • Decrease number of accidents and incidents due to organisational/human/automation factors and external hazards in all phases of flight, also beyond CAT category (80% goal in FlightPath2050), while enabling all weather operations.
  • Saving lives following a crash (post-crash survivability).
  • Anticipate emergence of new threats that could generate potential accidents and incidents (short, medium, and long term).
  • Ensure safety through aviation transformation (from green/digital technologies uptake up to independent certification).
  • Maintain safety and resilience despite the scale, pace and diversity of new entrants.

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.

Horizon Europe - Cluster 5 - Destination 4: Efficient, sustainable and inclusive energy use

This Destination addresses activities targeting the energy demand side, notably a more efficient use of energy as regards buildings and industry.

Demand side solutions and improved energy efficiency are among the most cost effective ways to support the transition to climate neutrality, reduce pollution and raw materials use, to create inclusive growth and employment in Europe, to bring down costs for consumers, to reduce our import dependency and redirect investments towards smart and sustainable infrastructure. The transition to a decentralised and climate neutral energy system will greatly benefit from the use of digital technologies which will enable buildings and industrial facilities to become inter-active elements in the energy system by optimising energy consumption, distributed generation and storage and vis-à-vis the energy system. They will also trigger new business opportunities and revenue streams for up-graded, innovative energy services which valorise energy savings and flexible consumption.

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.

It covers the following impact areas:

  • Industrial leadership in key and emerging technologies that work for people;
  • Affordable and clean energy;
  • Circular and clean economy.

The expected impact, in line with the Strategic Plan, is to contribute to the “Efficient and sustainable use of energy, accessible for all is ensured through a clean energy system and a just transition”, notably through

  1. Technological and socio-economic breakthroughs for achieving climate neutrality and the transition to zero pollution of the building stock by 2050, based on inclusive and people-centric R&I (more detailed information below).
  2. Increased energy efficiency in industry and reducing industry’s Greenhouse Gas (GHG) and air pollutant emissions through recovery, upgrade and/or conversion of industrial excess (waste) heat and through electrification of heat generation (more information below).

Other Horizon Europe Clusters include topics and activities that can be relevant to this Destination, e.g. in order to seek synergies. These include (but are not limited to) the following:

Cluster 2:

  • Destination 2 – Innovative Research on the European Cultural Heritage and the Cultural and Creative Industries. That Destination is most relevant for the topics which scope addresses heritage buildings.
  • Destination 3 - Innovative Research on Social and Economic Transformations. That Destination is most relevant for the social innovation items included in some of the topics.

Cluster 3:

  • Destination 4 – Increased Cybersecurity. This potential link is most relevant for the topics that address smart buildings and digitalisation of buildings.
  • Destination 5 – A Disaster-Resilient Society for Europe. This potential link can be relevant for the topics that address the resilience of the building stock.

Cluster 4: the whole cluster is relevant, in particular Destination 1 – Climate Neutral, circular and digitised production, which is highly relevant for all topics on buildings (e.g. for the digitalisation of construction / renovation workflows).

Cluster 6:

  • Destination 3 – Circular economy and bioeconomy sectors and Destination 4 – Clean environment and zero pollution. This potential link is relevant for all topics, in particular those that address sustainable renovation of buildings.

Beyond Horizon Europe, other programmes include some components with which synergies and complementarities can be found. For instance, the Clean Energy Transition and Circular Economy sub-programmes under LIFE can contribute to the market uptake of the innovation delivered under this Destination. The Digital Europe programme includes actions that can be relevant to consider in relation to the topics that entail the development or use of (big) data approaches.

Highly energy-efficient and climate neutral European building stock

Topics under this Destination targeting highly energy-efficient and climate-neutral European building stock focus on both, the energy challenge in buildings and, more broadly, the transformation of the built environment towards more sustainable living.

In line with the new European Bauhaus aiming to “bring the European Green Deal to life in an attractive, and innovative and human-centred way”, the sustainable built environment should go beyond merely improving the energy and resource efficiency of buildings and also include a qualitative, aesthetic and human dimension. At the intersection of science, technology and the arts, new creative design and architectural solutions should be developed to ensure the sustainable renovation of the existing European building stock for the well-being of its users. In particular the renovation or adaptive reuse of historical and heritage buildings and sites needs to embrace quality principles to safeguard the cultural values of Europe’s historical environment and local architectural identity.

Topics targeting energy efficiency in buildings under this Destination seek to achieve the following impacts:

  • More energy efficient building stocks supported by an accurate understanding of buildings performance in Europe and of related evolutions.
  • Building stocks that effectively combine energy efficiency, renewable energy sources and digital and smart technologies to support the transformation of the energy system towards climate neutrality.

Addressing the broader transformation of the built environment, though, requires a larger involvement of all players across the built environment value chain and throughout building life cycle. To this end, a co-programmed European Partnership on a people-centric, sustainable built environment has been set up (Built4People) to develop holistic R&I for an effective transition to sustainability. All Horizon Europe R&I actions addressing the challenges related to the buildings and construction sector will contribute to achieving the Built4People Partnership goals and will benefit from the coordinated approach within the community of its partners and stakeholders. Topics contributing to the implementation of the Built4People European Partnership seek to achieve the following impacts:

  • Higher buildings’ performance with lower environmental impacts through increased rates of holistic renovations.
  • Higher quality, more affordable built environment preserving climate and environment, and safeguarding cultural heritage and ensuring better living conditions.

Industrial facilities in the energy transition

Topics on industrial facilities in the energy transition supported under this Destination focus on thermal energy management in industry. The bulk of R&I activities related to industry is however supported under Cluster 4 “Digital, Industry and Space”.

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.

Horizon Europe - Cluster 1 - Destination 1: Staying healthy in a rapidly changing society

Calls for proposals under this destination are directed towards the Key Strategic Orientation KSO-D ‘Creating a more resilient, inclusive and democratic European society’ of Horizon Europe’s Strategic Plan 2021-2024. Research and innovation supported under this destination should contribute to the impact area ‘Good health and high-quality accessible health care’ and in particular to the following expected impact, set out in the Strategic Plan for the health cluster: ‘citizens of all ages stay healthy and independent in a rapidly changing society thanks to healthier lifestyles and behaviours, healthier diets, healthier environments, improved evidence-based health policies, and more effective solutions for health promotion and disease prevention’. In addition, research and innovation supported under this destination could also contribute to the following impact areas: ‘High quality digital services for all’, ‘Sustainable food systems from farm to fork on land and sea’, and ‘Climate change mitigation and adaptation’.

People´s health care needs are different, depending on their age, stage of life and socio-economic background. Their physical and mental health and well-being can be influenced by their individual situation as well as the broader societal context they are living in. Furthermore, health education and behaviour are important factors. Currently, more than 790 000 deaths per year in Europe are due to risk factors such as smoking, drinking, physical inactivity, and obesity. Upbringing, income, education levels, social and gender aspects also have an impact on health risks and how disease can be prevented. Moreover, people´s health can be impacted by a rapidly changing society, making it challenging to keep pace and find its way through new technological tools and societal changes, which both are increasing demands on the individual´s resilience. In order to leave no one behind, to reduce health inequalities and to support healthy and active lives for all, it is crucial to provide suitable and tailor-made solutions, including for people with specific needs.

In this work programme, destination 1 will focus on major societal challenges that are part of the European Commission’s political priorities, notably diet and health (obesity), ageing and demographic change, mental health, digital empowerment in health literacy, and personalised prevention. Research and innovation supported under this destination will provide new evidences, methodologies and tools for understanding the transition from health to disease. This will allow designing better strategies and personalised tools for preventing diseases and promoting health, including through social innovation approaches. Specific measures will also be developed to educate and empower citizens of all ages and throughout their life, to play an active role in the self-management of their own health and self-care, to the benefit of an active and healthy ageing. In 2022, it will also call for proposals for improving the availability and use of artificial intelligence (AI) tools to predict the risk for onset and progression of chronic diseases. Key to achieving the expected impacts is the availability and accessibility of health data from multiple sources, including real-world health data, which will require appropriate support by research and data infrastructures, AI-based solutions, and robust and transparent methodologies for analysis and reporting.

Dialogue and coordination between stakeholders and policy makers as well as integration across different settings will be needed to develop more effective cross-sectoral solutions for health promotion and disease prevention and deliver improved evidence-based health for all.

In view of increasing the impact of EU investments under Horizon Europe, the European Commission welcomes and supports cooperation between EU-funded projects to enable cross-fertilisation and other synergies. This could range from networking to joint activities such as the participation in joint workshops, the exchange of knowledge, the development and adoption of best practices, or joint communication activities. Opportunities for potential synergies exist between projects funded under the same topic but also between other projects funded under another topic, cluster or pillar of Horizon Europe (but also with ongoing projects funded under Horizon 2020). In particular, this could involve projects related to European health research infrastructures (under pillar I of Horizon Europe), the EIC strategic challenges on health and EIT-KIC Health (under pillar III of Horizon Europe), or in areas cutting across the health and other clusters (under pillar II of Horizon Europe). For instance, with cluster 2 “Culture, Creativity and Inclusive Society” such as on health inequalities, on other inequalities affecting health, or on citizens’ behaviour and engagement; with cluster 4 “Digital, Industry and Space” such as on digital tools, telemedicine or smart homes; with cluster 5 “Climate, Energy and Mobility” such as on urban health or on mitigating the impact of road traffic accidents and related injuries; with cluster 6 “Food, Bioeconomy, Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environment” such as on the role of nutrition for health (incl. human microbiome, mal- and over-nutrition, safe food), personalised diets (incl. food habits in general and childhood obesity in particular) and the impact of food-related environmental stressors on human health (incl. marketing and consumer habits).[[Strategic Plan 2021-2024 of Horizon Europe, Annex I, Table 2.]]

Expected impacts:

Proposals for topics under this destination should set out a credible pathway to contributing to staying healthy in a rapidly changing society, and more specifically to one or several of the following impacts:

  • Citizens adopt healthier lifestyles and behaviours, make healthier choices and maintain longer a healthy, independent and active life with a reduced disease burden, including at old ages or in other vulnerable stages of life.
  • Citizens are able and empowered to manage better their own physical and mental health and well-being, monitor their health, and interact with their doctors and health care providers.
  • Citizens´ trust in knowledge-based health interventions and in guidance from health authorities is strengthened, including through improved health literacy (including at young ages), resulting in increased engagement in and adherence to effective strategies for health promotion, diseases prevention and treatment, including increased vaccination rates and patient safety.

Health policies and actions for health promotion and disease prevention are knowledge-based, people-centred and thus targeted and tailored to citizens' needs, and designed to reduce health inequalities.


Open Calls


Horizon Europe - Cluster 1 - Destination 2: Living and working in a health-promoting environment

Calls for proposals under this destination are directed towards the Key Strategic Orientation KSO-D ‘Creating a more resilient, inclusive and democratic European society’ of Horizon Europe’s Strategic Plan 2021-2024. Research and innovation supported under this destination should contribute to the impact area ‘A resilient EU prepared for emerging threats’ and in particular to the following expected impact, set out in the Strategic Plan for the health cluster: ‘living and working environments are health-promoting and sustainable thanks to better understanding of environmental, occupational, social and economic determinants of health’. In addition, research and innovation supported under this destination could also contribute to the following impact areas: ‘Good health and high quality accessible health care’, ‘Climate change mitigation and adaptation’, and Clean and healthy air, water and soil’.

The environment we live and work in is a major determinant of our health and well-being. It has direct or indirect beneficial or adverse impact on our health and well-being. Environmental factors are estimated to account for almost 20% of all deaths in Europe. Opinion surveys have shown that European citizens are concerned about the impact of pollution on their health. The impacting factors on both physical and mental health and well-being are not all identified nor their effects comprehensively understood and accounted for to support evidence-based policy- and decision-making. Furthermore, agreed methodologies to estimate health-related costs of exposure to environmental stressors are lacking.

Therefore, Destination 2 aims at filling knowledge gaps in the understanding of the impacts on our health and well-being of those environmental, occupational and socio-economic risk factors that have the most significant or widespread societal impacts. In this work programme, Destination 2 focuses on indoor and outdoor air pollution, chemicals, non-ionizing radiation (electromagnetic fields), urbanisation, climate and other environmental changes, socio-economic inequalities, and changing working environments. Furthermore, under this work programme a topic is dedicated to the creation of a European partnership for the assessment of risks from chemicals, which should establish the EU as an internationally recognised driver of innovative chemical risk assessment for an optimal protection of human health and the environment. The results will support the EU’s environment and health policies and overarching policy frameworks such as the European Green Deal, the Chemical Strategy for Sustainability, the 8th Environment Action Programme, the EU Strategic Framework on Health and Safety at Work as well as the WHO European Environment and Health Process (EHP).

Strong collaborations across sectors and with other Horizon Europe clusters dealing with issues such as agriculture, food, environment, climate, mobility, security, urban planning, social inclusion and gender will be needed to ensure that maximal societal benefits are reached. Thus, in view of increasing the impact of EU investments under Horizon Europe, the European Commission welcomes and supports cooperation between EU-funded projects to enable cross-fertilisation and other synergies. This could range from networking to joint activities such as the participation in joint workshops, the exchange of knowledge, the development and adoption of best practices, or joint communication activities. Opportunities for potential synergies exist between projects funded under the same topic but also between other projects funded under another topic, cluster or pillar of Horizon Europe (but also with ongoing projects funded under Horizon 2020). In particular, this could involve projects related to European health research infrastructures (under pillar I of Horizon Europe), the EIC strategic challenges on health and EIT-KIC Health (under pillar III of Horizon Europe), or in areas cutting across the health and other clusters (under pillar II of Horizon Europe).

All topics are open to international collaboration to address global environment and health challenges.

Expected impacts:

Proposals for topics under this destination should set out a credible pathway to contributing to living and working in a health-promoting environment, and more specifically to one or several of the following impacts:

  • Policy-makers and regulators are aware and well informed about environmental, socio-economic and occupational risk factors as well as health-promoting factors across society;
  • Environmental, occupational, social, economic, fiscal and health policies and practices at the EU, national and regional level are sustainable and based on solid scientific evidence. These include overarching policy frameworks such as the European Green Deal, the Chemical Strategy for Sustainability, the 8th Environment Action Programme, the EU Strategic Framework on Health and Safety at Work and the European Environment and Health Process led by the World Health Organization;
  • The upstream determinants of disease - related to choices in energy generation, agricultural practices, industrial production, land use planning, built environment and construction - are known, understood and reduced;
  • The health threats and burden resulting from hazardous chemicals and air, water and soil pollution and contamination is reduced, so that the related number of deaths and illnesses is substantially reduced by 2030;
  • Living and working environments in European cities and regions are healthier, more inclusive, safer, resilient and sustainable;
  • The adaptive capacity and resilience of populations and health systems in the EU to climate and environmental change-related health risks is strengthened;
  • Citizens’ health and well-being is protected and promoted, and premature deaths, diseases and inequalities related to environmental pollution and degradation are prevented;
  • Citizens understand better complex environment and health issues, and effective measures to address them and support related policies and regulations.

Open Calls


Horizon Europe - Cluster 1 - Destination 4: Ensuring access to innovative, sustainable and high-quality health care

Calls for proposals under this destination are directed towards the Key Strategic Orientation KSO-D ‘Creating a more resilient, inclusive and democratic European society’ of Horizon Europe’s Strategic Plan 2021-2024. Research and innovation supported under this destination should contribute to the impact areas ‘Good health and high-quality accessible health care’ and ‘A resilient EU prepared for emerging threats’, and in particular to the following expected impact, set out in the Strategic Plan for the health cluster: ‘Health care systems provide equal access to innovative, sustainable and high-quality health care thanks to the development and uptake of safe, cost-effective and people-centred solutions, with a focus on population health, health systems resilience, as well as improved evidence-based health policies’. In addition, research and innovation supported under this destination could also contribute to the following impact areas: ‘Climate change mitigation and adaptation’, ‘High quality digital services for all’ and ‘A Competitive and secure data economy’.

Health systems are affected by limitations in sustainability and resilience, challenges which have been reinforced by the COVID-19 crisis that has also revealed inequalities in access to high-quality health care services. Our health systems need to become more effective, efficient, accessible, fiscally and environmentally sustainable, and resilient in order to cope with public health emergencies, to adapt to environmental challenges like climate change and to contribute to social justice and cohesion. Therefore, the transformation and modernisation of our health systems will be one of the biggest challenges in the economic recovery-bound future, but it will also be a time of opportunity for generating evidence, taking advantage of digital and data-driven innovation and developing more flexible and equitable health systems.

Under this destination, research and innovation aims at supporting health care systems in their transformation to ensure fair access to sustainable health care services of high quality for all citizens. Funded activities should support the development of innovative, feasible, implementable, financially sound and scalable solutions in the various dimensions of health care systems (e.g. governance, financing, human and physical resources, health service provision, and patient empowerment). Ultimately, these activities should provide decision-makers with new evidence, methods, tools and technologies for uptake into their health care systems and, consequently, allow improving governance of the European health care systems, supporting health care professionals and providers and allocating resources according to citizens’ health needs and preferences, while ensuring fiscal and environmental sustainability to assure those needs can be met on the long-term. Funded activities should adopt a patient-centred approach that empowers patients, promotes a culture of dialogue and openness between citizens, patients, caregivers, health care providers and other relevant stakeholders, and unleashes the potential for social innovation.

In this work programme, destination 4 will focus on the following issues:

  • Modernising health care systems in the EU, especially through a European public-public partnership on transforming health and care systems;
  • Improving the quality of health care along the entire health care continuum and being people-centred;
  • Supporting evidence-based health care decisions both for health care providers and policy-makers, fostering improved foresight and enabling sound planning of health care resources;
  • Enhancing development and uptake of innovative health care services and solutions, including environmentally sustainable ones that contribute to the European Green Deal.

In view of increasing the impact of EU investments under Horizon Europe, the European Commission welcomes and supports cooperation between EU-funded projects to enable cross-fertilisation and other synergies. This could range from networking to joint activities such as the participation in joint workshops, the exchange of knowledge, the development and adoption of best practices, or joint communication activities. Opportunities for potential synergies exist between projects funded under the same topic but also between other projects funded under another topic, cluster or pillar of Horizon Europe (but also with ongoing projects funded under Horizon 2020). In particular, this could involve projects related to European health research infrastructures (under pillar I of Horizon Europe), the EIC strategic challenges on health and EIT-KIC Health (under pillar III of Horizon Europe), or in areas cutting across the health and other clusters (under pillar II of Horizon Europe). For instance, with cluster 2 “Culture, Creativity and Inclusive Society” such as on health economics and economic models, on cost-effectiveness, fiscal sustainability and accessibility of health care, or on adaptation of public health systems to societal challenges (climate change, environmental degradation, migration, demographic change, emerging epidemics and One Health AMR) thereby contributing to building resilience; with cluster 3 “Civil Security for Society” such as on security of health care infrastructures, incl. digital health infrastructures, health systems preparedness and response to disasters and other emergencies, and quality and safety of medicine (counterfeit and substandard medicine, illicit drugs, One Health AMR); with cluster 4 “Digital, Industry and Space” such as on cybersecurity of (public) health systems, products and infrastructures of digitalised health and care, or on health impact assessment (e.g. related to consumer products, working place innovation).

Expected impacts:

Proposals for topics under this destination should set out a credible pathway to contributing to ensuring access to innovative, sustainable and high-quality health care, and more specifically to one or several of the following impacts:

  • Health and social care services and systems have improved governance mechanisms and are more effective, efficient, accessible, resilient, trusted and sustainable, both fiscally and environmentally. Health promotion and disease prevention will be at their heart, by shifting from hospital-centred to community-based, people-centred and integrated health care structures and successfully embedding technological innovations that meet public health needs, while patient safety and quality of services is increased.
  • Health care providers are trained and equipped with the skills and competences suited for the future needs of health care systems that are modernised, digitally transformed and equipped with innovative tools, technologies and digital solutions for health care. They save time and resources by integrating and applying innovative technologies, which better involve patients in their own care, by reorganising workflows and redistributing tasks and responsibilities throughout the health care system, and by monitoring and analysing corresponding health care activities.
  • Citizens are supported to play a key role in managing their own health care, informal carers (including unpaid carers) are fully supported (e.g. by preventing overburdening and economic stress) and specific needs of more vulnerable groups are recognised and addressed. They benefit from improved access to health care services, including financial risk protection, timely access to quality essential health care services, including safe, effective, and affordable essential medicines and vaccines.
  • Health policy and systems adopt a holistic approach (individuals, communities, organisations, society) for the evaluation of health outcomes and value of public health interventions, the organisation of health care, and decision-making.
  • The actions resulting from the calls under this destination will also create strong opportunities for synergies with the EU4Health programme and in particular to contribute to the goals under general objectives 1a “protecting people in the Union from serious cross-border threats to health and strengthening the responsiveness of health systems and coordination among the Member States to cope with those threats” and 3 “strengthening health systems by improving their resilience and resource efficiency, in particular through: i) supporting integrated and coordinated work between Member States; ii) promoting the implementation of best practices on data sharing; iii) reinforcing the healthcare workforce; iv) tackling the implications of demographic challenges; and v) advancing digital transformation”.

Horizon Europe - Cluster 1 - Destination 3: Tackling diseases and reducing disease burden

Calls for proposals under this destination are directed towards the Key Strategic Orientation KSO-D ‘Creating a more resilient, inclusive and democratic European society’ of Horizon Europe’s Strategic Plan 2021-2024. Research and innovation supported under this destination should contribute to the impact area ‘Good health and high-quality accessible healthcare’ and in particular to the following expected impact, set out in the Strategic Plan for the health cluster: ‘health care providers are able to better tackle and manage diseases (infectious diseases, including poverty-related and neglected diseases, non-communicable and rare diseases) and reduce the disease burden on patients effectively thanks to better understanding and treatment of diseases, more effective and innovative health technologies, better ability and preparedness to manage epidemic outbreaks and improved patient safety’. In addition, research and innovation supported under this destination could also contribute to the following impact areas: ‘A resilient EU prepared for emerging threats’, ‘Climate change mitigation and adaptation’, and ‘High quality digital services for all’.

Communicable and non-communicable diseases cause the greatest amounts of premature death and disability in the EU and worldwide. They pose a major health, societal and economic threat and burden. Many people are still suffering from these diseases and too often dying prematurely. Non-communicable diseases, including mental illnesses and neurodegenerative diseases, are responsible for up to 80% of EU health care costs[[Currently, around 50 million people in the EU are estimated to suffer from two or more chronic conditions, and most of these people are over 65. Every day, 22 500 people die in Europe from those diseases, counting of 87% of all deaths. They account for 550 000 premature deaths of people of working age with an estimated €115 billion economic loss per year (0.8% of GDP).]]. These costs are spent on the treatment of such diseases that to a large extent are preventable. Furthermore, only around 3% of the health care budgets are currently spent on preventive measures although there is a huge potential for prevention. Infectious diseases, including infections resistant to antimicrobials, remain a major threat to public health in the EU but also to global health security. Deaths caused by antimicrobial resistance (AMR) could exceed 10 million per year worldwide according to some predictions[[AMR is estimated to be responsible for 25 000 deaths per year in the EU alone and 700 000 deaths per year globally. It has been estimated that AMR might cause more deaths than cancer by 2050.]].

To further advance, there is an urgent need for research and innovation to develop new prevention measures, public health interventions, diagnostics, vaccines, therapies, alternatives to antimicrobials, as well as to improve existing prevention strategies to create tangible impacts, taking into account sex/gender-related issues. This will require international cooperation to pool the best expertise and know-how available worldwide, to access world-class research infrastructures and to leverage critical scales of investments on priority needs through a better alignment with other funders of international cooperation in health research and innovation. The continuation of international partnerships and cooperation with international organisations is particularly needed to combat infectious diseases, to address antimicrobial resistances, to respond to major unmet medical needs for global health security, including the global burden of non-communicable diseases, and to strengthen patient safety.

In this work programme, destination 3 will focus on major societal challenges linked to the Commission’s political priorities such as the fight against cancer and other non-communicable diseases, better diagnosis and treatment of rare diseases, preparedness and response to and surveillance of health threats and epidemics, reduction of the number of antimicrobial-resistant infections, improving vaccination rates, demographic change, mental health and digital empowerment in health literacy. In particular, the topics under this destination will support activities aiming at: i) better understanding of diseases, their drivers and consequences, including pain and the causative links between health determinants and diseases, and better evidence-base for policy-making; ii) better methodologies and diagnostics that allow timely and accurate diagnosis, identification of personalised treatment options and assessment of health outcomes, including for patients with a rare disease; iii) development and validation of effective intervention for better surveillance, prevention, detection, treatment and crisis management of infectious disease threats; iv) innovative health technologies developed and tested in clinical practice, including personalised medicine approaches and use of digital tools to optimise clinical workflows; v) new and advanced therapies for non-communicable diseases, including rare diseases developed in particular for those without approved options, supported by strategies to make them affordable for the public payer; and vi) scientific evidence for improved/tailored policies and legal frameworks and to inform major policy initiatives at global level (e.g. WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control; UNEA Pollution Implementation Plan).

In view of increasing the impact of EU investments under Horizon Europe, the European Commission welcomes and supports cooperation between EU-funded projects to enable cross-fertilisation and other synergies. This could range from networking to joint activities such as the participation in joint workshops, the exchange of knowledge, the development and adoption of best practices, or joint communication activities. Opportunities for potential synergies exist between projects funded under the same topic but also between other projects funded under another topic, cluster or pillar of Horizon Europe (but also with ongoing projects funded under Horizon 2020). In particular, this could involve projects related to European health research infrastructures (under pillar I of Horizon Europe), the EIC strategic challenges on health and EIT-KIC Health (under pillar III of Horizon Europe), or in areas cutting across the health and other clusters (under pillar II of Horizon Europe). For instance, with cluster 3 “Civil security for society” such as on health security/emergencies (preparedness and response, medical counter measures, epidemic outbreaks/pandemics, natural disasters and technological incidents, bioterrorism); with cluster 4 “Digital, Industry and Space” such as on decision-support systems or on geo-observation and monitoring (e.g. of disease vectors, epidemics); or with cluster 6 “Food, bioeconomy, natural resources, agriculture and environment” such as on health security and AMR (one-health: human/animal/plant/soil/water health).

Some research and innovation actions under Destination 3 should deliver relevant complementary inputs to the announced “Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan”[[https://ec.europa.eu/info/law/better-regulation/have-your-say/initiatives/12154-Europe-s-Beating-Cancer-Plan]], contributing to actions covering the entire cancer care pathway, including prevention, early detection, diagnosis, treatment, cancer data monitoring, as well as quality of life of cancer patients and survivors. Furthermore, synergies and complementarities will be sought between Destination 3 and the implementation of the EU4Health Programme (2021-2027)[[https://ec.europa.eu/health/funding/eu4health_en]]. These synergies and complementarities could be achieved, notably through mechanisms based on feedback loops, enabling on the one hand to identify policy needs that should be prioritised in research and innovation actions and facilitating on the other hand the implementation of research results into policy actions and clinical practice, thereby providing an integrated response across sectors and policy fields.

Expected impacts:

Proposals for topics under this destination should set out a credible pathway to contributing to tackling diseases and reducing disease burden, and more specifically to several of the following impacts:

  • Health burden of diseases in the EU and worldwide is reduced through effective disease management, including through the development and integration of innovative diagnostic and therapeutic approaches, personalised medicine approaches, digital and other people-centred solutions for health care. In particular, patients are diagnosed early and accurately and receive effective, cost-efficient and affordable treatment, including patients with a rare disease, due to effective translation of research results into new diagnostic tools and therapies.
  • Premature mortality from non-communicable diseases is reduced by one third (by 2030), mental health and well-being is promoted, and the voluntary targets of the WHO Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of NCDs 2013-2020 are attained (by 2025), with an immediate impact on the related disease burden (DALYs)[[WHO Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of NCDs 2013-2020 (resolution WHA66.10), https://www.who.int/nmh/events/ncd_action_plan/en.]],[[Including for instance the following voluntary targets (against the 2010 baseline): A 25% relative reduction in the overall mortality from cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes, or chronic respiratory diseases; Halt the rise in diabetes and obesity; An 80% availability of the affordable basic technologies and essential medicines, including generics, required to treat major non-communicable diseases in both public and private facilities.]],[[Disability-adjusted life year (DALY) is a quantitative indicator of overall disease burden, expressed as the number of years lost due to ill-health, disability or early death.]].
  • Health care systems benefit from strengthened research and innovation expertise, human capacities and know-how for combatting communicable and non-communicable diseases, including through international cooperation. In particular, they are better prepared to respond rapidly and effectively to health emergencies and are able to prevent and manage communicable diseases transmissions epidemics, including within healthcare settings.
  • Citizens benefit from reduced (cross-border) health threat of epidemics and AMR pathogens, in the EU and worldwide[[WHO global action plan on antimicrobial resistance, 2015.]],[[EU One Health Action Plan against AMR, 2017.]]. In particular, the epidemics of AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and neglected tropical diseases are contained and hepatitis, water-borne diseases and other communicable diseases are being combated[[Target 3.3 of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, 2015.]].
  • Patients and citizens are knowledgeable of disease threats, involved and empowered to make and shape decisions for their health, and better adhere to knowledge-based disease management strategies and policies (especially for controlling outbreaks and emergencies).

The EU benefits from high visibility, leadership and standing in international fora on global health and global health security, especially in partnership with Africa.

Horizon Europe - Cluster 1 - Destination 5: Unlocking the full potential of new tools, technologies and digital solutions for a healthy society

Calls for proposals under this destination are directed towards the Key Strategic Orientation KSO-A ‘Promoting an open strategic autonomy by leading the development of key digital, enabling and emerging technologies, sectors and value chains’ of Horizon Europe’s Strategic Plan 2021-2024. Research and innovation supported under this destination should contribute to the impact area ‘High quality digital services for all’ and in particular to the following expected impact, set out in the Strategic Plan for the health cluster: ‘Health technologies, new tools and digital solutions are applied effectively thanks to their inclusive, secure and ethical development, delivery, integration and deployment in health policies and health and care systems’. In addition, research and innovation supported under this destination could also contribute to the following impact areas: ‘A competitive and secure data-economy’, ‘Industrial leadership in key and emerging technologies that work for people’, and ‘Good health and high-quality accessible health care’.

Technology is a key driver for innovation in the health care sector. It can provide better and more cost-efficient solutions with high societal impact, tailored to the specific health care needs of the individual. However, novel tools, therapies, technologies and digital approaches face specific barriers and hurdles in piloting, implementing and scaling-up before reaching the patient, encountering additional challenges such as public acceptance and trust. Emerging and disruptive technologies offer big opportunities for transforming health care, thereby promoting the health and well-being of citizens. Unlocking this potential and harnessing the opportunities depends on the capacity to collect, integrate and interpret large amounts of data, as well as ensure compatibility with appropriate regulatory frameworks and infrastructures that will both safeguard the rights of the individual and of society and stimulate innovation to develop impactful solutions. In addition to existing European Research Infrastructures, the European Health Data Space will promote health-data exchange and facilitate cross-border research activities. This destination aims to promote the development of tools, technologies and digital solutions for treatments, medicines, medical devices and improved health outcomes, taking into consideration safety, effectiveness, appropriateness, accessibility, comparative value-added and fiscal sustainability as well as issues of ethical, legal and regulatory nature.

In view of increasing the impact of EU investments under Horizon Europe, the European Commission welcomes and supports cooperation between EU-funded projects to enable cross-fertilisation and other synergies. This could range from networking to joint activities such as the participation in joint workshops, the exchange of knowledge, the development and adoption of best practices, or joint communication activities. Opportunities for potential synergies exist between projects funded under the same topic but also between other projects funded under another topic, cluster or pillar of Horizon Europe (but also with ongoing projects funded under Horizon 2020). In particular, this could involve projects related to European health research infrastructures (under pillar I of Horizon Europe), the EIC strategic challenges on health and EIT-KIC Health (under pillar III of Horizon Europe) or in areas cutting across the health and other clusters (under pillar II of Horizon Europe). For instance, with cluster 4 “Digital, Industry and Space” such as on digitalisation of the health sector, incl. health technologies, medical devices and key enabling technologies; assisted, autonomous, independent and empowered living; smart homes; decision support systems; health impact assessment (e.g. related to consumer products, working place innovation).

Expected Impacts

Proposals for topics under this destination should set out a credible pathway towards unlocking the full potential of new tools, technologies and digital solutions for a healthy society, and more specifically to several of the following expected impacts:

  • Europe’s scientific and technological expertise and know-how, its capabilities for innovation in new tools, technologies and digital solutions, and its ability to take-up, scale-up and integrate innovation in health care is world-class.
  • Citizens benefit from targeted and faster research resulting in safer, more efficient, cost-effective and affordable tools, technologies and digital solutions for improved (personalised) disease prevention, diagnosis, treatment and monitoring for better patient outcome and well-being, in particular through increasingly shared health resources (interoperable data, infrastructure, expertise, citizen/patient driven co-creation).[[Commission Communication on the digital transformation of health and care; COM(2018) 233 final.]]
  • The EU gains high visibility and leadership in terms of health technology development, including through international cooperation.
  • The burden of diseases in the EU and worldwide is reduced through the development and integration of innovative diagnostic and therapeutic approaches, personalised medicine approaches, digital and other people-centred solutions for health care.
  • Both the productivity of health research and innovation, and the quality and outcome of health care is improved thanks to the use of health data and innovative analytical tools, such as artificial intelligence (AI) supported decision-making, in a secure and ethical manner, respecting individual integrity and underpinned with public acceptance and trust.

Citizens trust and support the opportunities offered by innovative technologies for health care, based on expected health outcomes and potential risks involved.

Horizon Europe - Cluster 1 - Destination 6: Maintaining an innovative, sustainable and globally competitive health industry

Calls for proposals under this destination are directed towards the Key Strategic Orientation KSO-A ‘Promoting an open strategic autonomy by leading the development of key digital, enabling and emerging technologies, sectors and value chains’ of Horizon Europe’s Strategic Plan 2021-2024. Research and innovation supported under this destination should contribute to the impact area ‘A competitive and secure data-economy’ and in particular to the following expected impact, set out in the Strategic Plan for the health cluster: ‘EU health industry is innovative, sustainable and globally competitive thanks to improved up-take of breakthrough technologies and innovations, which makes the EU with its Member States more resilient and less dependent from imports with regard to the access to and supply of critical health technologies’. In addition, research and innovation supported under this destination could also contribute to the following impact areas: ‘Industrial leadership in key and emerging technologies that work for people’, ‘High quality digital services for all’, and ‘Good health and high-quality accessible health care’.

The health industry is a key driver for growth and has the capacity to provide health technologies to the benefit of patients and providers of health care services. The relevant value chains involve a broad variety of key players from supply, demand and regulatory sides. In addition, the path of innovation in health is long and complex. The development of novel health technologies is generally associated with uncertainties and market barriers due to expensive and risky development (e.g. attrition rate in pharmaceutical development), high quality and security requirements (e.g. clinical performance, safety, data privacy and cybersecurity) and market specificities (e.g. strong regulation, pricing and reimbursement issues). In addition, the growing concern about environmental issues is putting more pressure on this industry. Therefore, there is a need for research and innovation integrating various stakeholders to facilitate market access of innovative health technologies (medical technologies, pharmaceuticals, biotechnologies, digital health technologies).

In order to address these challenges, in particular green and digital transitions and proper supply of health technologies and products, destination 6 will focus on research and innovation activities that aim at:

  • Production of pharmaceuticals in compliance with the objectives of the European Green Deal.
  • Methodologies, guidelines and standards, assessment studies, and structuring activities adapted to digital solutions and interventions for GDPR compliant translation into health care practice, including inter-operability, cyber-security and data confidentiality.
  • Public authorities supported with better methodologies and interdisciplinary approaches to assess and value new health technologies and interventions.
  • Development of pharmaceutical products meeting unmet medical needs in the context of market failures.

In view of increasing the impact of EU investments under Horizon Europe, the European Commission welcomes and supports cooperation between EU-funded projects to enable cross-fertilisation and other synergies. This could range from networking to joint activities such as the participation in joint workshops, the exchange of knowledge, the development and adoption of best practices, or joint communication activities. Opportunities for potential synergies exist between projects funded under the same topic but also between other projects funded under another topic, cluster or pillar of Horizon Europe (but also with ongoing projects funded under Horizon 2020). In particular, this could involve projects related to European health research infrastructures (under pillar I of Horizon Europe), the EIC strategic challenges on health and EIT-KIC Health (under pillar III of Horizon Europe), or in areas cutting across the health and other clusters (under pillar II of Horizon Europe). For instance, with cluster 4 “Digital, Industry and Space” such as on industrial research and innovation infrastructures (pilot plants, testing and simulation facilities, open innovation hubs); additive manufacturing (3D/4D printing) and other production technologies (incl. bio manufacturing); safe, smart and sustainable materials.

Expected Impacts:

Proposals for topics under this destination should set out a credible pathway to contributing to maintaining an innovative, sustainable and globally competitive health industry, and more specifically to one or several of the following expected impacts:

  • Health industry in the EU is more competitive and sustainable, assuring European leadership in breakthrough health technologies and strategic autonomy in essential medical supplies and digital technologies, contributing to job creation and economic growth, in particular with small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
  • Health industry is working more efficiently along the value chain from the identification of needs to the scale-up and take-up of solutions at national, regional or local level, including through early engagement with patients, health care providers, health authorities and regulators ensuring suitability and acceptance of solutions.
  • European standards, including for operations involving health data, ensure patient safety and quality of healthcare services as well as effectiveness and interoperability of health innovation and productivity of innovators.
  • Citizens, health care providers and health systems benefit from a swift uptake of innovative health technologies and services offering significant improvements in health outcomes, while health industry in the EU benefits from decreased time-to-market.
  • Health security in the EU benefits from reliable access to key manufacturing capacity, including timely provision of essential medical supplies of particularly complex or critical supply and distribution chains, such as regards vaccines or medical radioisotopes.

Horizon Europe - Cluster 2 - Destination 1: Innovative research on democracy and governance

Democracies are more fragile and more vulnerable than in the past. The Freedom in the World Report (2020) shows that democracies across the globe are in crisis[[https://freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-world/2020/leaderless-struggle-democracy]]. At the same time, various European surveys show declining levels of trust in the political institutions of democracy.[[W. Merkel, Past, Present and Future of Democracy - Policy Review, 2019: https://op.europa.eu/en/publication-detail/-/publication/4bebf83d-60ba-11e9-b6eb-01aa75ed71a1/language-en/format-PDF/source-94807842]] In terms of legitimacy, there are signs of a potential shift from governance based on expertise, multilateralism and consensual policymaking towards majoritarianism, unilateralism, nationalism, populism and polarization. Research on the past and present challenges and tensions in democracy can help to better understand and strengthen democracy, its resilience and stability. It will foster democracy’s further development with a view to enhancing representation, participation, openness, pluralism, tolerance, the effectiveness of public policy, non-discrimination, civic engagement, the protection of fundamental rights and the rule of law. These reflect the European Union’s values as defined in Article 2 of the EU Treaty[[Consolidated version of the Treaty on European Union, Title 1 “Common Provisions”, Article 2: “The Union is founded on the values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities. These values are common to the Member States in a society in which pluralism, non-discrimination, tolerance, justice, solidarity and equality between women and men prevail”.]].

Expected impact:

Proposals for topics under this Destination should set out a credible pathway to contributing to the following expected impacts of the Horizon Europe Strategic Plan:

  • Democratic governance is reinvigorated by improving the accountability, transparency, effectiveness and trustworthiness of rule-of-law based institutions and policies and through the expansion of active and inclusive citizenship empowered by the safeguarding of fundamental rights.

The implementation of the research activities of the destination will assist in the re-invigoration and modernisation of democratic governance. The aim is to develop evidence-based innovations, policies and policy recommendations, as well as institutional frameworks that expand political participation, social dialogue, civic engagement, gender equality and inclusiveness. Activities will also contribute to enhancing the transparency, effectiveness, accountability and legitimacy of public policy-making. They will help improving trust in democratic institutions, safeguarding liberties and the rule of law and protecting democracy from multidimensional threats. Rich historical, cultural and philosophical perspectives, including a comparative dimension, will set the frame for soundly understanding present developments and help to map future pathways. In the medium to long term, the knowledge, data, scientifically robust recommendations and innovations generated will enhance decision making on all aspects relevant to democratic governance. As the Destination aims directly at citizen engagement and at producing lasting change, it is of particular importance that the research and innovation actions promote the highest standards of transparency and openness. When applicable, it is encouraged to open up the process, criteria, methodologies and data to civil society in the course of the research.

Horizon Europe - Cluster 2 - Destination 2: Innovative research on the European cultural heritage and the cultural and creative industries

Europe’s rich cultural heritage, with its common values, its wealth of monuments and sites and its creative diversity of traditions, crafts, arts, architecture, literature, languages, theatre, films and music, not only reflects our past but also shapes our present and builds our future. It is a creative way of cultivating independent thinking and dialogue, while promoting our interests across the world. Access to experience with cultural heritage contributes to social cohesion and inclusion, by strengthening resilience and the sense of belonging, bringing people together and improving well-being.

Europe’s common research and innovation (R&I) action to protect, conserve, restore and repair its important cultural heritage, promote its use as one of the substantial European resources, boost its traditional and contemporary arts and create wider awareness is still limited in scope and impact. Moreover, European tangible and intangible cultural heritage is increasingly facing a number of challenges such as deterioration due to climate change, pollution, natural or man-made disasters, looting and illicit trafficking, lack of finance or insufficient valorisation. In addition, Europe’s cultural production (in particular film and music) lags behind in international competitiveness despite its high quality and quantity.

European R&I[[In this context, innovation should be understood as any new creative idea, which can take the form of products, processes, services, technologies, organisational or business models that are made available to markets, governments and society.]] activities will make a strong contribution in all these areas by strengthening our common knowledge and expertise, as well as by providing solid evidence for policy-making. They will promote and valorise our cultural heritage and arts, while increasing their international competitiveness and firming the social fabric at European, national, regional or local level. Through a broad co-operation of a wide set of stakeholders and efficient coordination between EU Member States, R&I activities will be oriented towards interdisciplinary research and actively involve the cultural and creative industries (CCIs)[[CCIs defined as in the European Commission Green Paper ‘Unlocking the Potential of Cultural and Creative Industries’: https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/PDF/?uri=CELEX:52010DC0183&from=ENl]]. They will connect cultural heritage with the CCIs by supporting new forms of cultural and artistic expression that build on existing cultural assets and provide access to both tangible and intangible heritage. R&I will also promote the competitiveness of cultural and creative industries. It will provide evidence about their role as innovation drivers in the wider economy. In line with the Commission priorities, the R&I activities of this Destination will help promote the European way of life, contribute to achieving the Green Deal goals and support an economy that works for people. They will also contribute to the New European Bauhaus[[The New European Bauhaus initiative was launched by European Commission President von der Leyen in her State of the European Union speech autumn 2020. More information here:https://europa.eu/new-european-bauhaus/index_en]] initiative, to realising the UN Sustainable Development Goals and to building a stronger crisis-resilient society and economy by taking into account experiences, challenges and lessons learnt also from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Concretely, R&I activities under this Destination and its calls will support these policy objectives by monitoring, safeguarding and transmitting cultural heritage, fostering the CCIs and promoting cultural diversity. They will aim at protecting historical sites and monuments, artefacts, heritage sites, cultural landscapes, museums and other cultural institutions, languages, customs, traditions and values. Through new or existing cutting-edge conservation and restoration technologies and methods, they will help restore and preserve monuments and artefacts in a green way. They will advance the protection of cultural heritage from natural hazards and anthropogenic threats, including the looting and illicit trafficking of cultural goods. Research and innovation across the cultural and creative sectors will foster their inbuilt innovation potential and will promote transformation in many parts of the economy and social development across Europe. Through new approaches, R&I will offer innovative, integrated, sustainable and participative management and business models for museums and other cultural institutions, with a view to spur inclusive growth, jobs, social cohesion and diversity. It will also contribute to develop a sustainable and quality-driven intervention on built environment in line with the New European Bauhaus initiative. Research in old and new forms of cultural and artistic expression will promote intercultural cooperation, while engaging citizens and young people. It will valorise traditional skills and the reuse of existing assets. Exploring the economic role of CCIs and investigating the impact of creative and artistic intervention into innovation processes will provide capacities to boost Europe’s competitiveness. European cultural heritage, arts and creativity can be harnessed to further develop the design and identity of products, and to shape the public image of our countries and regions. Cultural and intellectual experiences can be marketed at a premium: CCIs are at the frontline of this action, by investing in knowledge and creativity. Furthermore, the use of existing and the development of new digital methodologies will offer innovative approaches to share and increase access to and engagement with cultural heritage. Altogether, these actions will enable real cooperation and participation of a wide range of communities, including stakeholders, citizens and industry.

Through all these activities, research and innovation will underpin the European Union’s leading role in protecting, preserving and enhancing Europe’s cultural heritage and scale-up the competitiveness of its cultural and creative industries.

Proposals under this destination should consider and promote in a cross-cutting way, and whenever appropriate and applicable:

  • The use of digital and cutting-edge technologies;
  • An active and sustainable engagement with stakeholders, social innovators and citizens;
  • The active involvement of local, regional or national authorities and sectoral social partners, particularly in the uptake and implementation of research results and recommendations;
  • A clear strategy for the uptake of research outcomes, recommendations or results, in particular where CCIs are participating or are concerned;
  • Training and education activities for targeted groups of users and/or stakeholders;
  • A robust plan for how projects will use or build on outputs and results from research already undertaken and technology already available;
  • Increased participation of CCIs, SMEs and industry;
  • Lessons learnt from the COVID-19 crisis in view of a sustainable management of the post-crisis society;
  • Contribution to the European Green Deal, the New European Bauhaus as well as the Sustainable Development Goals.

Expected impacts:

Proposals for topics under this Destination should set out a credible pathway to contributing to the following expected impact of the Horizon Europe Strategic Plan:

The full potential of cultural heritage, arts and cultural and creative sectors as a driver of sustainable innovation and a European sense of belonging is realised through a continuous engagement with society, citizens and economic sectors as well as through better protection, restoration and promotion of cultural heritage.

Horizon Europe - Cluster 2 - Destination 3: Innovative research on social and economic transformations

Europe is being transformed by changes that impact the livelihoods and wellbeing of its citizens. Such changes present important opportunities for the EU to innovate and shape forward looking inclusive societies and economies, while avoiding the mistakes of the past and promoting an inclusive recovery that strengthens economic and social resilience. However, demographic changes, digitalisation, automation, environmental degradation, the transition to a low carbon economy and globalisation all pose multidimensional, interconnected and complex social and economic challenges. At the same time, there has been an increase in inequality, poverty and social exclusion, a polarisation of skill needs in the labour market, and a slowdown in convergence in income and employment in most European countries. Inequalities threaten social and territorial cohesion, economic growth and wellbeing. Moreover, the COVID-19 pandemic has magnified the pervasive inequalities across European societies, with significant differences in the way losses and costs of the COVID-19 pandemic and the crisis that followed are distributed in society. To seize the opportunities emerging from socio-economic transformations in a strongly connected and integrated world, these challenges need to be better understood and tackled.

Population ageing increases social protection spending on pensions, health and long-term care and restricts the capacity of the redistributive system to reduce inequality. Societies also need to adapt to a new role elderly people may have, with their experience and capacity to remain productive. Policies need to support a transition towards more environmentally-friendly ways of producing and providing private and public services, while ensuring all regions and individuals equally benefit from these transitions and that no one is left behind, in particular when it comes to access to essential services. Access to social protection for those in need should be ensured, while making sure that everyone can participate in economic, social, political and cultural developments. Social protection supports individuals in emergencies that they can no longer cope with on their own and, in addition, protect them by means of long-term measures – whether in the event of illness, accident, need for care, unemployment or old age. Moreover, mitigation and adaptation strategies are essential to make sure population movements shaped by these transitions are positive for all areas, and do not contribute to deepening the divide between regions or countries.

Education and training are key long-term factors in preventing and reversing inequalities and promoting equal opportunities, inclusion and social mobility. However, the educational outcomes of younger generations are still determined to a large extent by the socio-economic background of their parents rather than by their own potential. Promoting and ensuring inclusion and equity in education and training is thus fundamental in breaking these patterns.

In this context, it is important to reflect on the nature of economic growth and the need to better capture the different dimensions of social progress. It is increasingly important to distinguish between the different purposes of measurement: economic activity, social and cultural wellbeing and sustainability, and to develop relevant indicators. This is particularly the case as the pervasive effects of the COVID-19 pandemic has altered the economic performance and socio-economic fabric of many countries in Europe.

Migration has been a critical component of the makeup of European societies, one that is likely to dominate policy and political agendas for many years to come. It is an issue requiring comprehensive and coordinated European responses in order to ripen its benefits, both inside and outside the EU, involving Member States, Associated and partner countries, EU actors, as well as local and regional authorities, civil society organisations, migrants’ representatives – including migrant organisations – and economic and social partners. Partnerships between these stakeholders are needed to make the most of the positive consequences of migration, as well as ensuring that migration occurs in an orderly and dignified manner. The task of research is to better understand migration in a global and EU context, assist in its governance, support security and help the socio-economic as well as civil-political inclusion of migrants in European societies. It can enhance policies by providing evidence on the causes and consequences of the phenomena and facilitate timely response by identifying trends and suggesting possible policy solutions.

The implementation of the research activities in the two calls of this Destination will contribute to a comprehensive and reflective European strategy for inclusive growth, including social, economic, ecological and historical dimensions. This will strengthen the resilience of the EU and of its citizens, and will ensure that no one is left behind, including through the accumulation and preservation of human capital in the face of old and new risks. It will equally support productivity gains and their fair distribution, as well as boosting social and economic resilience that is essential to face situations of crisis such as in the case of COVID-19. Activities will contribute to EU migration and mobility policies, both internal and external. The overall knowledge generated, including a holistic understanding of societal wellbeing, will feed into the design of policy strategies in line with the above mentioned objectives and will facilitate the assessment of policy needs and outcomes in the field of the societal and economic transformations.

The Destination calls for proposals that may help in reaching these key strategic policy objectives in the EU. It invites proposals to do so by integrating feedback loops with stakeholders and policymakers that may help in developing suggestions and recommendations throughout their lifecycles. These proposals should take into consideration the stakeholders associated to the decisions that are suggested, and should also account for the context in which decisions are made. Therefore, in order to maximize and facilitate the uptake of group-sensitive recommendations in policy, they should include analyses of political and financial trade-offs associated to the recommendations produced, reflecting also on contextual changes needed to implement proposals developed. Proposals are also invited to build upon previous research funded by Horizon 2020, valorising its experience and findings.

Expected impacts:

Proposals for topics under this Destination should set out a credible pathway to contributing to the following targeted expected impacts of the Horizon Europe Strategic Plan:

  • Social and economic resilience and sustainability are strengthened through a better understanding of the social, ethical, political and economic impacts of drivers of change (such as technology, globalisation, demographics, mobility and migration) and their interplay.

Inclusive growth is boosted and vulnerabilities are reduced effectively through evidence-based policies for protecting and enhancing employment, education, social fairness and tackling inequalities, including in response to the socio-economic challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Horizon Europe - Cluster 4 - Destination 1: Climate neutral, circular and digitised production

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

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Published on 11.06.2021

European Cooperation Projects Small Scale

Creative Europe - Culture Strand 2021

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Published on 11.06.2021

European Cooperation Projects Medium Scale

Creative Europe - Culture Strand 2021

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