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OVERVIEW | A BUILD UP view of the Horizon 2020 Work Programme 2018-2020

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A BUILD UP view of the Horizon 2020 Work Programme 2018-2020


by Arla Fytrou-Moschopoulou (Sympraxis Team)



With the new Horizon 2020 Work Programme, which was announced on 27 October 2017, the European Commission aims for a greater impact of research funding by focusing on concrete critical topics such as climate, clean energy, digital economy, security, and migration. During its last three years, Horizon 2020 will also be more geared towards boosting breakthroughs and market-creating innovation, with an emphasis on better dissemination of results and a focus on open access to data. This overview article provides a brief presentation of the new work programme and its provisions on energy matters, as well as the forthcoming building-related calls.



Spanning seven years (2014 - 2020) and with a budget of €77 billion, Horizon 2020 is the most ambitious EU research and innovation funding programme to date. As of October 2017, it has provided in total more than 15,000 grants, amounting to €26.65 billion, of which almost €3.79 billion to Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs), mainly through the SME Instrument and the INNOSUP calls. The programme has also provided private companies, in particular SMEs, with access to risk finance worth over €17 million under the InnovFin - EU finance for innovators scheme.



Image#1 Pillars of the Horizon 2020 programme


During its final phase, Horizon 2020 will provide further investments of around €30 billion. Furthermore, in the next 3 years, €460 million will be allocated specifically to supporting Member States and associated countries that do not yet participate in the programme to their full potential. The aim is to tap into the unexploited pockets of excellence in Europe and beyond. In addition, the programme continues to promote closer synergies with the European Structural and Investment Funds.




Image #2: Horizon 2020 Budget breakdown for the years 2018-2020



The new programme's Focus Areas


Aiming to address the European Commission's major political priorities through defining targeted research and innovation actions that can deliver significant impact, the new work programme launches four mutually reinforcing Focus Areas that cut across the programme’s Pillar boundaries. Each of these is endowed with a substantial budget to allow for work of sufficient scale, depth and breadth, thereby also supporting better integration across work programme parts.


These Focus Areas are:


  • Connecting economic and environmental gains – the Circular Economy (€1 billion) will support the Commission's ambitious Circular Economy package. Through R&I actions, a strong contribution will be made to sustainable development goals, climate action, resource efficiency, jobs and growth, and industrial competitiveness.
  • Digitising and transforming European industry and services (€1.7 billion) will address the combination of digital technologies (5G, high-performance computing, artificial intelligence, robotics, big data, Internet of Things, etc.) with innovations in other technological areas, as emphasised in the Digital Single Market strategy.
  • Boosting the effectiveness of the Security Union (€1 billion) will support the implementation of Security Union priorities such as preventing and fighting serious crime including terrorism, improving border security and protecting infrastructure against threats, including cyber-attacks.


Innovation in SMEs in the scope of the new work programme


The overarching policy objective of ‘Innovation in SMEs’ is to enhance the Research Development Innovation (RDI) environment for SMEs, strengthening their innovation capacity and creating value on the market and/or into society, in support of the Europe 2020 strategy for smart, inclusive and sustainable growth. This objective primarily feeds into the European Commission's #1 political priority –boosting jobs, growth and investment– as well as the policy priority 'Open Innovation' for Research, Innovation and Science, which aims at co-creating economic and social value through combining knowledge and ideas, and integrating mega-trends such as digitisation, mass participation and collaboration, and sustainability.



Societal Challenge 'Secure, Clean and Efficient Energy in the new work programme - the Energy Challenge


Secure, Clean and Efficient Energy, also known as 'the Energy Challenge', is one of the Commission's  Societal Challenges. In the relevant part of the new work programme, the aim is to strike a balance between activities focusing on R&I breakthroughs (e.g. emerging technologies with a medium/long-term prospect until deployment), integration (e.g. systems integration, interoperability and flexibility) and facilitating exploitation (taking into account the regional differences in the EU).


In the new programme, actions concerning this Challenge will focus on the following strategic priorities:


  • Energy efficiency, including upgrading buildings' energy performance and smartness, and energy efficiency investments
  • Global leadership in renewables, including renewable energy systems integrated at the building scale
  • Smart and clean energy for consumers
  • Smart citizen-centred energy systems
  • Smart Cities and Communities
  • Enabling near-zero CO2 emissions from fossil fuel power plants and carbon intensive industries

The large majority of activities included in this part of the work programme contributes to the focus area "Building a low-carbon, climate resilient future" which pools relevant activities across different parts of the work programme with the objective to stimulate the development of solutions capable of achieving carbon neutrality and climate resilience.



Forthcoming building-related calls under the Focus Area 'Building a low-carbon, climate resilient future: Secure, clean and efficient energy'


In the field of buildings' energy efficiency and performance, proposals regarding the upgrading of buildings' energy performance and smartness, as well as renewable heating and cooling energy systems are invited, among others, within the context of the following topics:


LC-SC3-RES-4-2018: Renewable energy system integrated at the building scale (Open since: 31 October 2017, Deadline: 31 January 2018, 2nd stage Deadline: 23 August 2018)


LC-SC3-RES-5-2018: Increased performance of technologies for local heating and cooling solutions (Open since: 31 October 2017, Deadline: 13 February 2018)


LC-SC3-RES-6-2018: Demonstrate significant cost reduction for Building Integrated PV (BIPV) solutions (Open since: 31 October 2017, Deadline: 13 February 2018)


LC-SC3-EE-1-2018-2019-2020: Decarbonisation of the EU building stock: innovative approaches and affordable solutions changing the market for buildings renovation (Opening: 25 January 2018, Deadline: 4 September 2018)


LC-SC3-EE-2-2018-2019 Integrated home renovation services (Opening: 25 January 2018, Deadline 4 September 2018)


LC-SC3-EE-3-2019-2020 Stimulating demand for sustainable energy skills in the construction sector (Opening: 24 January 2019, Deadline: 3 September 2019)


LC-SC3-EE-4-2019-2020 Upgrading smartness of existing buildings through innovations for legacy equipment (Opening: 24 January 2019, Deadline: 3 September 2019)


LC-SC3-EE-5-2018-2019-2020 Next-generation of Energy Performance Assessment and Certification (Opening: 25 January 2018, Deadline: 4 September 2018)


LC-SC3-EE-9-2018-2019 Innovative financing for energy efficiency investments (Opening: 25 January 2018, Deadline: 4 September 2018)


LC-SC3-SCC-1-2018-2019-2020 Smart Cities and Communities (Opening: 5 December 2017, Deadline 5 April 2018)



Forthcoming building-related calls under the Focus Area 'Building a low-carbon, climate resilient future: Industrial Leadership - Industrial Sustainability'


The work programme part on Nanotechnologies, Advanced Materials, Biotechnology and Advanced Manufacturing and Processing (NMBP) responds to the need to deliver on the targets for climate action and sustainable development, through a dedicated call on industrial sustainability. Regarding the building industry, the challenge in 2018-2020 is to develop further, demonstrate and validate key breakthrough technologies for energy-efficient buildings and districts, with the aim to decarbonise the EU building stock and to develop affordable and integrated energy storage solutions. The related calls are funded under the Energy-efficient Buildings Public Private Partnership (EeB PPP) initiative.


Proposals are invited against the following topics:


LC-EEB-02-2018: Building information modelling adapted to efficient renovation (Open since 31 October 2017, Deadline: 22 February 2018)


LC-EEB-06-2018-20: ICT enabled, sustainable and affordable residential building construction, design to end of life (Open since 31 October 2017, Deadline: 22 February 2018)


LC-EEB-01-2019: Integration of energy smart materials in non-residential buildings (Opening: 16 October 2018, Deadline: 21 February 2019)


LC-EEB-03-2019: New developments in plus energy houses (Opening: 16 October 2018, Deadline: 21 February 2019)


LC-EEB-05-2019-20: Integrated storage systems for residential buildings (Opening: 16 October 2018, Deadline: 21 February 2019)



Info Days 2017


In the context of the new work programme, the European Commission organised two informational events, one on energy and one on industrial innovation.


Horizon 2020 Energy Info Days 2017 took place from Monday 23 to Wednesday 25 October in Brussels, Belgium, presenting the new funding opportunities and innovative schemes offered by the new work programme. The event included a Building Energy Efficiency session.


Presentations are available online.



Image #3: Building energy efficiency at the Horizon 2020 Energy Info Days 2027



Industrial Innovation Info Days, organised by the EC DG Research & Innovation, took place on 3 and 4 October 2017 in Brussels, Belgium. The event provided the research community with an overview of ongoing activities in the “Key Enabling Technologies” part of Horizon 2020 and offered support on the preparation of proposals for the 2018-2019 calls.


On the first day of the event, the energy efficient buildings topics that are funded via EeB PPP were presented. The presentation was followed by an open EeB PPP brokerage session organised in collaboration with the ECTP Energy Efficient Buildings (E2B) Committee.


The event's presentations are available online.



Image #4: Building energy efficiency at the Industrial Innovation Info Days



Horizon 2020: From 2014 to 2020 and beyond


Horizon 2020 has now reached its half-way point, and even though most research and innovation activities are still either underway or yet to be started, there is good evidence already to show that the programme is on track to deliver against its ambitious aims and towards the impacts which are expected.


The work programme for 2018-2020 builds on what has already been achieved during the first Horizon 2020 work programme (2014-15) of around €13 billion, and the second work programme (2016-2017) of around €16 billion. In this last programme, the European Commission takes forward many valuable lessons which are reflected in the way the programme is set up and will be implemented, notably by incorporating the results of Horizon's 2020 Interim Evaluation. The comprehensive assessment this has provided was supported by a public stakeholder consultation which generated close to 3,500 replies, and more than 300 position papers.


For the future, this work programme, and in particular the coverage of 2020 which is to be developed later, will help to bridge Horizon 2020 with its successor framework programme.