Skip to main content

Blog Innovate UK

Innovate UK
Innovate UK

Horizon Europe Cluster 4: funding for Digital, Industry and Space

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Funding, International, Support

The road that led to the delivery of the first Horizon Europe work programme for the cluster ‘Digital, Industry and Space’ has not been an easy one. Having worked in EU funding programmes for over twenty years, I can’t remember a work programme that went through so many revisions.

The reason? The EC wanted to restrict the access of some topics (mainly in quantum and space) to Member States only. However, some Member States challenged that Europe only wins when it can work with the best talent and expertise, and that includes the UK. Each round of work programme negotiations between the European Commission and Member States had to balance each viewpoint until both parties were happy with a way forward.

Horizon Europe #HorizonEU The EU Research & Innovation Programme 2021-2027
Image © European Commission

Collaboration opportunities

The good news is now the final version of the work programme has landed we can explore the collaboration opportunities. In Horizon 2020, the UK received over €850 million from equivalent calls, so continuing on that success, the UK has a lot to offer and gain. Building on a global vision and with an emphasis on making a Europe more resilient, green and digitally transformed, Cluster 4 is at the heart of this effort.

Theme guide

The themes (called destinations) and topics have been carefully chosen to support this vision and there are plenty of opportunities for the UK. But that amount of funding creates a problem – finding the right topic in a work programme that is 512 pages long. I have found that the table of contents is your friend to finding the relevant destinations and topics but this short guide should also help:

people working with a drone and looking at digital screens.
Image © European Commission
  • Climate-neutral, circular, and digitised production

Budget: €737.5 million across 30 topics: 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 and energy intensive industrial sectors.

  • Increased autonomy in key strategic value chains for resilient industry

Budget: €766.4 million across 44 topics: This destination is looking to modernise traditional industrial models, including mining and raw materials supply chain, critical raw materials by adopting sustainable production methods and improving resource and energy efficiency. It also addresses barriers to the uptake of reuse and recycling technologies and encourages circular design practices.

  • World-leading data and computing technologies

Budget: €346 million across 10 topics: 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 and tools for decentralised intelligence and swarms.

Businessmans hand touching a robot hand through a digital screen.
Image: ©Getty Images
  • Digital and emerging technologies for competitiveness and fit for the green deal

Budget: €606.4 million across 38 topics: Energy efficiency is a key design principle in this destination, looking for new solutions for ultra-low-power processors to AI, 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.

  • Open strategic autonomy in developing, deploying, and using global space-based infrastructures, services, applications, and data

Budget: €302.6 million across 31 topics: 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’.

  • Human-centred and ethical development of digital and industrial technologies

Budget: €327 million across 31 topics: 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.

Yellow lightbulb on a background of blue questions marks.
Image: ©Getty Images

How do I find out more?

If you are still not sure where to look or have any questions about Horizon Europe, this Cluster has a team of three National Contact Points (NCPs)to help you work through the destinations, rules, and jargon. The EU’s Funding and Tenders Portal, the one-stop-shop for Horizon Europe can be difficult to navigate so if you get stuck, please let us know and we can help.

Development of the Cluster 4 work programme may not have gone to plan, but what the process has shown is that Europe wants to work with the UK. They see us as an important ally in high-quality research and innovation. The EC has even published a Q&A document that reinforces the message that the UK can take part in the first calls for proposals.

We are here to help you

So I now pass the challenge to you. Read the work programme, think about opportunities and reach out to Europe – and if you need help, there are three NCPs waiting for your email.

Sharing and comments

Share this page

1 comment

  1. Comment by Prab Mistry posted on

    Exciting themes!


Leave a comment

We only ask for your email address so we know you're a real person

By submitting a comment you understand it may be published on this public website. Please read our privacy notice to see how the GOV.UK blogging platform handles your information.