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Call: European coordination, awareness, standardisation & adoption of trustworthy European AI, Data and Robotics (AI, Data and Robotics Partnership)

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Programme
Acronym HE-CL4-HUMAN
Type of Fund Direct Management
Description of programme
"Horizon Europe - Cluster 4 - Destination 6: A Human-centred and Ethical Development of Digital and Industrial Technologies"

This destination will directly support the following Key Strategic Orientations, as outlined in the Strategic Plan:

  • 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 contributing to the following expected impact:

  • A human-centred and ethical development of digital and industrial technologies, through a two-way engagement in the development of technologies, empowering end-users and workers, and supporting social innovation.

As Europe takes the lead in the green and digital transitions, workers, regions, and societies are faced with extremely fast transformations, and will be differently affected by these changes. The rapid adoption of new technologies offers an immense potential for improved standards of living, safer mobility, better healthcare, new jobs, or the personalisation of public services. At the same time, it presents risks such as skills mismatches, digital divides, customer lock-in, or serious breaches of security or privacy.

As Europe sets off on its path to recovery towards a greener, digital and more resilient economy and society, the need to improve and adapt skills, knowledge and competences becomes all the more important. Developments in digital and enabling technologies have the potential to enhance social inclusion, can inform up-skilling training programmes and ensure a two-way engagement with society with regard to developing technologies.

The issue of trust has become central in the use of technologies, following revelations about the exploitation of personal data, large-scale cybersecurity and data breaches, and growing awareness of online disinformation. As outlined in the White Paper on Artificial Intelligence (COM(2020)65), for AI technologies, trust requires in particular improving transparency (explainability, expected levels of performance). For the Internet, increasing trust requires new tools and services to ensure that GDPR is a reality for end-users.

It is also an opportunity for Europe to re-gain presence on the consumer electronics market, by developing new interactive applications in various sectors with solutions meeting European values and requirements in terms of privacy and security. The COVID-19 crisis has also shown how important distance and innovative learning is for society.

Actions under this Destination will support EU objectives of inclusiveness, by supporting a human-centred approach to technology development that is aligned with European social and ethical values, as well as sustainability. These actions will further contribute to addressing the challenges faced by European industry and support the creation of sustainable, high-quality jobs by targeting skills mismatches, the need to empower workers, and ethical considerations relating to technological progress.

Actions should devote particular attention to openness of the solutions and results, and transparency of the research process. To ensure trustworthiness, public awareness and support, wide adoption by user communities for the benefit of society, actions should promote the highest standards of transparency and openness. Actions should ensure that the processes and outcomes of research and innovation align with the needs, values and expectations of society, in line with Responsible Research and Innovation.

This Destination is structured into the following headings, which group topics together with similar outcomes to address a common challenge:

Leadership in AI based on trust

The objective of this heading is to ensure autonomy for Europe in AI, leading the way in research, development and deployment of world-class technologies that are beneficial to humans individually, organisationally and societally, and that adheres to European values, such as the principles reflected in our fundamental rights and environmental sustainability. Technologies need to be developed that industries and citizens will trust, so and that they could be applied in a wide range of applications and industrial sectors. Trustworthy AI is particularly key in applications such as (but not limited to) healthcare or in diverse critical infrastructures such as energy and transportation.

Some topics of this heading are under the co-programmed Partnership ‘AI, Data and Robotics’.

Proposals are encouraged to link with relevant European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) and its Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs), in particular the EIT Digital.

EIT Digital plays role in shaping technologies and innovations that work for people. At least two of its focus areas, Digital Wellbeing and Digital Cities, address directly topics such as ethical artificial intelligence, predictive analytics or augmented and virtual reality that are relevant to this areas. The solutions will benefit from the increasing will of citizens to participate in the sharing economy. EIT Digital, through projects with cities for example, improves engagement and inclusiveness of the citizens and of the visitors by increasingly organising and exposing data, especially in real time and along with analytics and machine learning. Augmented and virtual reality of the cities are another facet of exposing or simulating city data from the past, present or future to the benefit of citizens. ​

An Internet of Trust

The issue of trust in the internet has become central, following revelations about the exploitation of personal data, large-scale cybersecurity and data breaches, and growing awareness of online disinformation. A 2019 survey[[]] shows that half of the global internet users are more concerned about their online privacy compared to a year previously. Distrust in the Internet is causing people to change the way they behave online, for example by disclosing less personal information. Users also express an increasing level of distrust of social media platforms.

The objective of this heading is to develop a trustworthy digital environment, built on a more resilient, sustainable, and decentralised internet, to empower end-users with more control over their data and their digital identity, and to enable new social and business models respecting European values.

eXtended Reality (XR)

Due to its low presence in the consumer electronics industry, Europe is increasingly dependent on external providers in this area. This raises concerns about its digital sovereignty in crucial domains such as digital interaction services that are being adopted by a growing number of European users and industries. The COVID-19 crisis has shown how important distance and innovative learning is for society, our children, their parents and their teachers, maintaining social and educational links under challenging circumstances. Emerging technologies such as virtual reality, eXtended Reality or immersive environments provide numerous opportunities for personalised, innovative, efficient and inclusive learning, for learners of all ages, gender and condition

The objective of this heading is to gain industrial leadership in eXtended Reality technologies and immersive environments, while ensuring the European values of privacy, ethics and inclusiveness. It also aims to support the digital transformation of education through these technologies in particular.

Systemic approaches to make the most of the technologies within society and industry.

This heading promotes various systemic approaches to encourage creativity and make the most of the technologies developed elsewhere within society and industry. They include testing ideas in local communities; support for IP, standardisation and industry-academia exchanges; art-driven design; and assessments of complex socio-economic systems. These are complemented by support for a network of National Contact Points (NCPs), with a special emphasis on engaging with new actors.

Activities beyond R&I investments will be needed to realise the expected impacts: testing, experimentation, demonstration, and support for take-up using the capacities, infrastructures, and European Digital Innovation Hubs made available under the Digital Europe Programme; further development of skills and competencies via the European Institute of Innovation and Technology, in particular EIT Digital and EIT Manufacturing; upscaling of trainings via the European Social Fund +; use of financial instruments under the InvestEU Fund for further commercialisation of R&I outcomes; and links to the thematic smart specialisation platform on industrial modernisation

Expected impact

Proposals for topics under this Destination should set out a credible pathway to contributing to a human-centred and ethical development of digital and industrial technologies, and more specifically to one or several of the following impacts:

  • Increased inclusiveness, by supporting a human-centred approach to technology development that is aligned with European social and ethical values, as well as sustainability;
  • Sustainable, high-quality jobs by targeting skills mismatches, the need to empower workers, and ethical considerations relating to technological progress[[2019 CIGI-Ipsos Global Survey on Internet Security and Trust]].
Link Link to Programme
Call
European coordination, awareness, standardisation & adoption of trustworthy European AI, Data and Robotics (AI, Data and Robotics Partnership)
Description of call
"European coordination, awareness, standardisation & adoption of trustworthy European AI, Data and Robotics (AI, Data and Robotics Partnership)"

Expected Outcome:

Proposal results are expected to contribute to either of the following expected outcomes, depending on their focus (the proposals should focus on one of the two expected outcomes exclusively):

Outcome 1:
  • Efficient AI, Data and Robotics Public-Private Partnership supporting the community and the implementation of the SRIDA.
  • Reinforced links among initiatives in AI, Data and Robotics in H2020, Horizon Europe, Digital Europe Programme, and other programmes (Networks of excellence centres, DIHs, pilots, data platforms, and other projects).
  • Widespread educational and outreach programmes
  • Increased adoption of AI technologies in all Member States and Associated Countries, towards elimination of gaps between Member States and Associated Countries.
  • Increased adoption of trustworthy AI, data and robotics in procurement both public and private (B2B, B2C, B2G, etc.)
  • Standardisation methods for trustworthy and ethical AI to foster AI, data and robotics industry, and in support of the Commission regulatory framework.

Outcome 2:

  • Efficient support to the research community via the AI-on-demand-platform, a public community resource.

Scope:

The proposals should address one of the following focus areas:

Focus 1) the first type of proposals (EU contribution around EUR 4.00 million), will address the following aspects:

  • Support to the PPP on AI, Data and Robotics to develop a strong and inclusive network bringing, academia, industry, and public and industry users, including the major industrial European sectors and all relevant stakeholders, to guarantee strong coordinated efforts toward trustworthy AI, for the economy, society and environment. The network will also include national representatives, to link to national programmes and to foster synergies and coordination between the various European, national, public and private initiatives. Such coordination of efforts in research, innovation and expertise will be important for Europe’s leadership in AI. The objective is to support the community in defining and implementing the AI, Data and Robotics strategy for research, innovation, and deployment, and support the PPP in its coordination and support of the community in non-R&D tasks as well.
  • Coordinate and establish links with all relevant initiatives in AI, Data and Robotics in Horizon 2020, Horizon Europe, Digital Europe Programme, and other programmes (Networks of excellence centres, DIHs, pilots, data platforms, and other projects), in view of sharing knowledge, developing synergies, and coordinate the efforts when possible. Synergies should be developed with the relevant projects through efficient mechanisms (e.g. joint task forces), organisation of joint events gathering projects, etc.
  • Support and encourage the adoption of AI technologies in all Member States and Associated Countries, with particular emphasis on geographical aspect and elimination of gaps in digital competences and access between Member States and Associated Countries
  • Widespread educations and outreach programmes including public awareness and addressing acceptability and trustworthiness, informing about potentialities of AI but also ensuring that expectations are realistic to avoid backlash in the adoption. Such activities should target in particular the business community, with a particular focus on SMEs, as well as public administrators, and citizens at large.
  • Investigate and promote the potential contribution of AI, data and robotics to social welfare and sustainability, for example as framed by the UN SDGs (sustainable development goals) and highlight the value generated by the combination of AI/data/robotics in different environments.
  • Promote the adoption of trustworthy AI, data and robotics in procurement both public and private (B2B, B2C, B2G, etc.): this is crucial to foster the development of European AI industries and applications built on European data and compliant with the European regulatory framework, and to foster vast deployment of AI-based solutions.
  • Support to standardisation in view of boosting AI, data and robotics industry, helping to create, and guarantee trustworthy and ethical AI, data and robotics, and in support of the Commission regulatory framework.
    • Standards should guarantee that AI, data and robotics technology in industry brings a high level of trust and safety of operations, and that it respects fundamental values and human rights. Standards should also ensure appropriate governance of AI, data and robotics throughout the system lifecycle and make sure that decision systems are trustworthy by being robust, un-biased, safe and secure.
    • Developing a coherent and broadly accepted set of AI, data and robotics standards requires a minimum level of support to ensure that all essential players are involved and that their voices are heard and in order to disseminate information and collect essential requirements. Support is also needed to coordinate and encourage contributions to standardization activities around the world.
    • An important dimension will be to explore needs for standardisation and qualification of equipment and processes, notably the application of Artificial Intelligence to business processes

The standardisation activities should include:

  • The creation of an online observatory of published standards and ongoing standardisation activities in AI, data and robotics worldwide
  • The identification of gaps and recommendations for key topics for future standardisation, in particular building on on-going activities in European Standardization Organizations (ESOs) and other relevant standardisation initiatives.
  • Support to a mechanism for information exchange between international and European Standardization Organizations (ESOs) to increase the transparency of ongoing work at international and European levels.
  • Support participation of European stakeholders in the international standardization initiatives
  • Networking of all key players, collection of essential requirements for AI, data and robotics standardization and dissemination of information
  • Recommendations on links between standardisation, certification and regulation
  • Recommendations for research and innovation activities supporting standardization

One large CSA is expected to cover all the aspects above. Close cooperation is expected with the second CSA supporting the AI-on-demand platform.

Focus 2) the second type of proposals (EU contribution around EUR 9.00 million), will address the following aspects:

The second type of CSA proposals will be in charge of the maintenance and necessary developments and services provision for the AI-on-demand-platform, a public community resource, with a focus on supporting the research community. Such platform should support the research community in providing modules, codes, tools, knowledge base to share and continuously strengthen the S&T excellence. It should also provide the necessary access to resources (data, compute power, equipment, etc.) to offer the AI, Data and Robotics R&D community an environment in which to develop new solutions and to ensure a leading position to Europe in S&T in these fields. It should also implement methods to compare solutions, and demonstrate progress. Proposals should demonstrate how their methodology will promote excellence, by serving the needs of the scientific community. In close cooperation with the first Coordination and Support Action, it will further develop the platform services that offer a common portal gathering relevant information, success stories, etc. The activities of this AI-on-demand-platform funded through Horizon Europe will serve the needs of the research community while the AI-on-demand platform funded through the Digital Europe Programme will focuses on AI tools at higher TRLs, to serve the needs of the market. Synergies will be developed between the two platforms to ensure complementarity and avoid overlaps. Results from this platform should be transferred to the other platform, after reaching sufficient level of maturity.

This topic implements the co-programmed European Partnership on AI, Data and Robotics.

All proposals are expected to allocate tasks to cohesion activities with the PPP on AI, Data and Robotics and funded actions related to this partnership. Proposals should include activities to collaborate with projects stemming from topics relevant to AI, Data and Robotics, primarily in destinations 3, 4 and 6 of Cluster 4, but also in other destinations and clusters, and share or exploit results where appropriate. Proposals should also develop synergies with relevant activities in Digital Europe Programme.

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, Consumer Protection, Disaster Prevention, Resiliance, Risk Management
Funding area EU Member States
Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs)
Origin of Applicant EU Member States
Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs)
Eligible applicants Research Institution, International Organization, Small and Medium Sized Enterprises, SMEs (between 10 and 249 employees), Microenterprises (fewer than 10 employees), NGO / NPO, Public Services, Other, Start Up Company, University, Enterprise (more than 250 employees or not defined), Federal State / Region / City / Municipality / Local Authority, Education and Training Centres
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 21.10.2021
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: 30 pages

Type of Funding Grants
Financial details
Expected EU contribution per projectThe Commission estimates that an EU contribution of between EUR 4.00 and 9.00 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 13.00 million.
Typ of ActionCoordination and Support Actions (CSA)
Funding rate100%

To ensure a balanced portfolio covering the two complementary types of activities defined in this topic to coordinate and support the field of AI, Data and Robotics, grants will be awarded to applications not only in order of ranking but at least also to the highest ranked proposal amongst the first type of proposals (see focus 1 under Scope), and to the highest ranked proposal amongst the second type of proposals (see focus 2 under Scope), provided that the applications attain all thresholds.

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

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