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Call: Innovation for responsible EU sourcing of primary raw materials, the foundation of the Green Deal

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Programme
Acronym HE-CL4-RESILIENCE
Type of Fund Direct Management
Description of programme
"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.

Link Link to Programme
Call
Innovation for responsible EU sourcing of primary raw materials, the foundation of the Green Deal
Description of call
"Innovation for responsible EU sourcing of primary raw materials, the foundation of the Green Deal"

Expected Outcome:

Projects will enable achieving the expected impacts of the destination by increasing access to primary raw materials, in particular critical raw materials for EU industrial value chains and strategic sectors.

Projects are expected to contribute to the following outcomes:

  • Improve knowledge base of EU and third country critical raw materials to identify new areas for exploration and resource estimation;
  • Promote the utilisation of UNFC (United Nations Framework Classification for Resources) and UNRMS (United Nations Resource Management System) reporting standards in the raw materials sector;
  • Accelerate development of EU domestic raw materials exploration projects integrating innovative technologies that can form the basis for new EU SMEs;
  • Strengthen EU autonomy and ethical sourcing of raw materials by developing socially and environmentally acceptable means of discovery and production of primary critical raw materials.

The action is expected to contribute with intelligence and foresight capability to the implementation of the EU action plan on Critical raw materials and to support future foresight work of the Commission related to raw materials.

Scope:

Actions should develop new knowledge and conceptual models, supported by innovative technologies to strengthen and secure the EU’s supply of primary raw materials by:

  • Generating better geological understanding (i.e. characterization, modelling, mapping) of known mineral deposits to identify critical minerals resources and inform discovery of new resources
  • Developing new genetic models for ore deposit types that host critical minerals in order to identify areas for exploration, especially in previously overlooked regions
  • Deploying innovative geological, geophysical, geochemical, and data analysis approaches including modelling techniques (e.g. data analysis, remote sensing) to elucidate the geological history and structure and models of targeted spatial areas of targeted areas and to guide more environmentally friendly exploration for critical minerals, limiting impacts on biodiversity.

Actions should also map EU and third countries’ primary and secondary raw materials potential and raw materials production and refining capacities in a harmonised form, using UNFC (United Nations Framework Classification for Resources) and UNRMS (United Nations Resource Management System).

Actions should also contribute to improving the awareness of the general public across the EU about:

  • the importance of raw materials for a successful transition to a climate-neutral and digitised economy and society; and
  • the ensuing need for a secure, sustainable, and responsibly-sourced supply of raw materials, including from domestic sources to strengthen EU open strategic autonomy and reduce over-dependence on third countries.

All the data and information generated through these actions should be shared in open formats on a free of charge basis with the European Commission, for its own use and for publication.

Actions should envisage clustering activities with other relevant selected projects for cross-projects co-operation, consultations and joint activities on cross-cutting issues and share of results as well as participating in joint meetings and communication events. To this end proposals should foresee a dedicated work package and/or task, and earmark the appropriate resources accordingly.

In this topic the integration of the gender dimension (sex and gender analysis) in research and innovation content is not a mandatory requirement.

Link Link to Call
Thematic Focus Research & Innovation, Technology Transfer & Exchange, Capacity Building, Cooperation Networks, Institutional Cooperation, Clustering, Development Cooperation, Economic Cooperation, Digitisation, ICT, Telecommunication, Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, Green Technologies & Green Deal, Circular Economy, Sustainability, Natural Resources, Climate, Climate Change, Environment & Biodiversity, Health, Social Affairs, Sports, Employment & Labour Market, Competitiveness, SME
Funding area EU Member States
Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs)
Origin of Applicant EU Member States
Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs)
Eligible applicants Education and Training Centres, Federal State / Region / City / Municipality / Local Authority, Research Institution, Lobby Group / Professional Association / Trade Union, International Organization, Small and Medium Sized Enterprises, SMEs (between 10 and 249 employees), Microenterprises (fewer than 10 employees), NGO / NPO, Public Services, National Government, Other, Start Up Company, University, Enterprise (more than 250 employees or not defined), Association
Applicant details

eligible non-EU countries:

  • countries associated to Horizon Europe
At the date of the publication of the work programme, there are no countries associated to Horizon Europe. Considering the Union’s interest to retain, in principle, relations with the countries associated to Horizon 2020, most third countries associated to Horizon 2020 are expected to be associated to Horizon Europe with an intention to secure uninterrupted continuity between Horizon 2020 and Horizon Europe. In addition, other third countries can also become associated to Horizon Europe during the programme. For the purposes of the eligibility conditions, applicants established in Horizon 2020 Associated Countries or in other third countries negotiating association to Horizon Europe will be treated as entities established in an Associated Country, if the Horizon Europe association agreement with the third country concerned applies at the time of signature of the grant agreement.

  • low-and middle-income countries

Legal entities which are established in countries not listed above will be eligible for funding if provided for in the specific call conditions, or if their participation is considered essential for implementing the action by the granting authority.

Specific cases:

  • Affiliated entities - Affiliated entities are eligible for funding if they are established in one of the countries listed above.
  • EU bodies - Legal entities created under EU law may also be eligible to receive funding, unless their basic act states otherwise.
  • International organisations - International European research organisations are eligible to receive funding. Unless their participation is considered essential for implementing the action by the granting authority, other international organisations are not eligible to receive funding. International organisations with headquarters in a Member State or Associated Country are eligible to receive funding for ‘Training and mobility’actions and when provided for in the specific call conditions.
Project Partner Yes
Project Partner Details

Unless otherwise provided for in the specific call conditions , legal entities forming a consortium are eligible to participate in actions provided that the consortium includes:

  • at least one independent legal entity established in a Member State;and
  • at least two other independent legal entities, each established in different Member States or Associated Countries.
Call opens 22.06.2021
Call closes 23.09.2021
Further info

Proposal page limits and layout:

The application form will have two parts:

  • Part A to be filled in directly online  (administrative information, summarised budget, call-specific questions, etc.)
  • Part B to be downloaded from the Portal submission system, completed and re-uploaded as a PDF in the system

Page limit - Part B: 45 pages

Type of Funding Grants
Financial details
Expected EU contribution per projectThe Commission estimates that an EU contribution of around EUR 7.50 million would allow these outcomes to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of a proposal requesting different amounts.
Indicative budgetThe total indicative budget for the topic is EUR 30.00 million.
Typ of ActionResearch and Innovation Actions (RIA)
Funding rate100%

Activities are expected to achieve TRL 3-5 by the end of the project.

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

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