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The Last Horizon 2020 Call: €1B for Research & Innovation Projects that Respond to the Climate Crisis

© Photo by Mauro Sbicego on Unsplash

The European Commission is launching its final and biggest investment under the “Horizon 2020” programme – a Green Deal Call worth €1 billion. The fund is intended to support projects that respond to the climate crisis and help protect Europe’s unique ecosystems and biodiversity. The call is already open for registration and will accept project proposals until 26 January 2021.

The €1 billion investment is expected to meet the objectives of the Green Deal: “With innovation at its heart, this investment will accelerate a just and sustainable transition to a climate-neutral Europe by 2050. As we do not want anyone left behind in this systemic transformation, we call for specific actions to engage with citizens in novel ways and improve societal relevance and impact”, comments the Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth Mariya Gabriel.

The Green Deal is the European Commission’s action plan to make Europe the first climate neutral continent by 2050. In particular, it aims to motivate the efficient use of resources by moving to a clean, circular economy, stop climate change, revert biodiversity loss and reduce pollution. This will require action by all sectors of the economy, notably transportation, energy, agriculture and construction, and industries such as steel, cement, ICT, textiles and chemicals.

A Call for long-term change

In Contrast to previous “Horizon 2020” calls, the Green Deal Call has fewer, but more targeted, larger and noticeable actions. It addresses the climate crisis, the protection of Europe’s threatened biodiversity and habitats and the sustainable recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic. Due to the urgency of these challenges it aims for clear and visible results in the short to medium-term, but emphasizing mostly on long-term changes. 

The “Horizon 2020” call is open for projects which deliver results in the following ten areas. Eight of these are thematic areas and are related to the European Green Deal and the last two are horizontal areas.

    • “Increasing climate ambition” with focus on the following topics: 1) Preventing and fighting extreme wildfires with the integration and demonstration of innovative means; 2) Towards climate-neutral and socially innovative cities; 3) Climate-resilient innovation packages for EU regions
    • “Clean, affordable and secure energy” with the following three topics: 1) Innovative land-based and offshore renewable energy technologies and their integration into the energy system; 2) Develop and demonstrate a 100 MW electrolyser upscaling the link between renewables and industrial applications; 3) Accelerating the green transition and energy access partnership with Africa
    • “Industry for a clean and circular economy” through 1) Closing the industrial carbon cycle to combat climate change and 2) Demonstration of systemic solutions for the territorial deployment of the circular economy
    • “Energy and resource efficient buildings” with focus on building and renovating in an energy and resource efficient way
    • “Sustainable and smart mobility” with focus on green airports and ports as multimodal hubs for sustainable and smart mobility
    • “Farm to fork” with focus on testing and demonstrating systemic innovations for sustainable food from farm to fork
    • “Biodiversity and ecosystems” with focus on restoring biodiversity and ecosystem services
    • “Zero-pollution, toxic-free environments” with the following topics: 1) Innovative, systemic zero-pollution solutions to protect health, environment and natural resources from persistent and mobile chemicals and 2) Fostering regulatory science to address chemical and pharmaceutical mixtures: from science to evidence-based policies
    • “Strengthening knowledge” with the following topics: 1) European Research Infrastructures’ capacities and services to address European Green Deal challenges; 2) Developing end-user products and services for all stakeholders and citizens supporting climate adaptation and mitigation; 3) A transparent and accessible ocean: towards a digital twin of the ocean
    • “Empowering citizens” with the following topics: 1) European capacities for citizen deliberation and participation for the Green Deal; 2) Behavioural, social and cultural change for the Green Deal; 3) Enabling citizens to act on climate change and environmental protection through education, citizen science, observation initiatives, and civic involvement

Who is it for?

In order to participate attendants need to be a legal entity from the academic area, industry, administration or civil society. The project is open to all EU Member States as well as to states associated with “Horizon 2020”, including Turkey, Macedonia, Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania, Moldova, Israel, Iceland, Norway and Switzerland. Only collaborations by institutions in at least three different member or associated states can apply for the projects.

The projects are expected to deliver quick results that show how research and innovation can provide solutions to the main priorities of the Green Deal.

The deadline for submission of project proposals is 26 January 2021 and selected projects are expected to start in autumn 2021. Applicants can find the complete call documents in the Funding & Tenders Portal for “Horizon 2020”.

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