Digital, Industry and Space
This cluster contains funding calls which focus on supporting key enabling technologies that are strategically important for Europe’s industrial future.
Introduction to Digital, Industry and Space
The overarching vision behind Cluster 4 is that of Europe shaping competitive and trusted technologies for a European industry. Developing global leadership in key areas, this will build towards a digital, low-carbon and circular industry that will form the foundation of advances and innovation to the global challenges affecting society. Digital and industrial technologies, including in space, are the foundation of all sectors of the economy and society. To support a competitive Europe and to be a global leader, research and innovation investment is needed to strengthen Europe’s industrial base and enhance its resilience and flexibility both in terms of technologies and supply chains.
Themes covered in Cluster 4 include:
- manufacturing and process industry technologies
- key digital technologies including quantum technologies
- emerging enabling technologies
- advanced materials
- artificial intelligence and robotics
- electronic systems and photonics
- next generation internet
- human factors across industry and digital, extended reality
- advanced computing and big data
- circular industries including raw materials
- low carbon and clean industries
- space technology, infrastructure and applications
A key underpinning element of the Horizon Europe programme, digital covers a wide range of topics and use cases across 3 destinations (and external partnership calls). Strategic aims include:
Strengthening European capacities in key parts of digital and future supply chains. allowing agile responses to urgent needs, and investing in early discovery and industrial uptake of new technologies.
Developing the next-generation computing and data technologies and infrastructures enabling the European single market for data with the corresponding data spaces and a trustworthy artificial intelligence ecosystem.
A human-centred and ethical development of digital and industrial technologies, with a two-way engagement in the development of technologies, empowering end-users and workers, and supporting social innovation.
Industry calls focus on 2 main destinations, strategic aims include:
Circular economy, clean and climate-neutral industrial value chains, digital systems and infrastructures (networks, data centres), through innovative manufacturing processes and 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.
Industrial leadership and increased autonomy in key strategic value chains with security of supply in raw materials, through breakthrough technologies, 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 circular economy.
Space technology and data is an integral part of our daily lives and forms a key component of technologies and applications across all sectors. To advance this use, the space calls focus on developing, deploying and using global space-based infrastructures, services, applications and data. This includes Europe’s capacity to access space, securing the autonomy of supply for critical technologies and equipment, as well as space science and security. The space calls in Cluster 4 are split across two overarching themes; space based technology infrastructure and services, and applications. The applications call is managed by the European Union Agency for the Space Programme (EUSPA), and the call topics can be found under the section ‘Other Actions’ in the work programme or on the EUSPA Horizon Europe webpages.
The first destination in Cluster 4 is centred on facilitating the European industries’ green and digital transformation. Topics under this destination focus on decarbonisation, digitalisation, and improving circularity in manufacturing, construction, process industries, energy intensive industrial sectors.
This destination is looking to modernise traditional industrial models, including: mining and raw materials supply chain, critical raw materials by adopting sustainable production methods, improving resource and energy efficiency. It also addresses barriers to the uptake of reuse and recycling technologies and encourages circular design practices.
Data technology development is the focus of this destination reinforcing the cloud and data infrastructure supply industry whilst making it energy-efficient and trustworthy. Topics that will be open for funding include: technologies for data management, extreme data mining, tools for decentralised intelligence and swarms.
Energy efficiency is a key design principle in this destination, looking for new solutions for ultra-low-power processors to artificial intelligence, data and robotics. The energy efficiency theme continues to optical networking technologies and 6G, to robotics and ultra-low power operations using spintronics and 2D materials-based devices.
The title of this destination says it all, with budget to ensure the future of European space programmes, to ensure their services evolve to fit future needs and the protection of space assets. The new European Union Agency for Space Programme (EUSPA) is managing the application topics so if you want to know details about downstream services, look at the back of the work programme under ‘Other Actions’.
The final destination focuses on inclusiveness, through a human-centred approach to technology development. It looks at the challenges faced by the sector including having a skilled workforce and ethical considerations relating to technological progress.
Digital, Industry and Space Partnerships
EU Partnerships related to this Cluster are:
Smart Networks and Systems (SNS) – the €900m successor to 5G calls in H2020. SNS is targeted at advanced 5G and 6G development. Topics are open to UK participation (a small number for 6G Industry Association members, UK organisations can join). No calls currently open.
Key Digital Technologies (KDT) – the €1.8Bn successor to ECSEL (Horizon 2020). This focuses on Electronic Components and Systems. The second call has just opened, UK organisations remain eligible to apply (funding rates may vary from Horizon Europe).
Metrology – €650m programme, working with key metrology organisations (including UK), Calls to include Green Deal, Health, Digital Transformation, Fundamental Metrology, Integrated European Metrology, Industry needs, Pre-normative and Knowledge transfer and capacity building.
High Performance Computing – The EuroHPC JU allows the European Union and the EuroHPC JU participating countries to coordinate their efforts and pool their resources to make Europe a world leader in supercomputing.
Introduction to EU Missions
EU Missions are a new way to bring concrete solutions to some of our greatest challenges. EU Missions are a coordinated effort by the Commission to pool the necessary resources in terms of funding programmes, policies and regulations, as well as other activities.
Introduction to EU Partnerships
EU Partnerships are initiatives where 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.
Related Events and Recordings
Horizon Europe 2021 and 2022 Space Call Results
The results from the first Horizon Europe space calls have been released by the European Commission. A results fact sheet has been published as well as a summary of some of the projects. Information on funded projects is also available in the topic description on the Funding and Tenders portal under 'Funded project list' at the bottom of the page.
The Science|Business website has posted unapproved draft work programmes for the 2023/2024 calls and includes one for Cluster 4 Digital, Industry and Space, dated 26th September.
The space calls start on page 264, EUSPA calls on page 452. As these work programmes are drafts, topic text can change, but at this late stage, and with formal publication expected in November, any changes should be minimal. However, please check the final published document for the definitive text. What is yet to be confirmed is the UK's participation in a number of topics identified as having strategic or security importance to the EU. The assessment of the UK's eligibility to participate in these topics is ongoing with a decision expected before the work programme is formally adopted and published.
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