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Policy support for Industry 2020 in the circular economy
Deadline: Jan 21, 2016  

 Entrepreneurship and SMEs
 Energy Efficiency
 Waste Management
 International Cooperation
 Horizon Europe

Topic Description
Specific Challenge:

Following the recent crisis, a key European priority is re-industrialisation, that is, the re-introduction and expansion of industry. Industry, and the manufacturing sector in particular, is important for Europe because it can create sustainable growth and jobs.

New digital technologies and advances in key enabling technologies provide unique opportunities for productivity gains as well as addressing new markets. A key feature in the latest industrial revolution is the linking of the physical and digital worlds through 'cyber-physical systems', which has the potential of making European industrial system truly flexible, resilient, resource efficient, human centred and highly competitive. Europe has to build on its strong capacities in all key enabling technologies (KETs); capitalise on digital technologies and systems; and bring smart manufacturing to innovative enterprises as well as traditional industries, including SMEs.

A re-industrialisation of Europe will have positive effects also in the context of the circular economy. New technologies help to make products, services, manufacturing and processing cleaner, safer, and more flexible in responding to customers' needs; and they help to use materials and energy as efficiently as possible and to reduce waste and emissions. Europe has stringent legislation for clean industry, including rules to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to foster energy efficiency. The more production is transferred back to Europe, the cleaner industry becomes.

At the same time, a fit-for-purpose eco-system needs to be created around these innovative technologies, to allow industry to be globally competitive and sustainable.


Proposals should assess the contribution of relevant EU projects in the area of KETs, e.g. pilot lines and demonstrators, to the vision of re-industrialisation in the context of the circular economy, as outlined in the specific challenge.

Proposals should build on the roadmaps of relevant European initiatives, such as the Factories of the Future and Sustainable Process Industries cPPPs, as well as relevant EU, national and regional initiatives supporting the transformation towards a more sustainable and competitive EU manufacturing industry.

Proposals should provide the evidence for the impact of R&I on industrial innovation and investments, growth and jobs, identifying also appropriate policy and public actions to further foster private investment into industrial and manufacturing.

Deliverables are expected in all of the following specific areas:

  • A new vision for the EU industry-related to the circular economy in an international context, taking into account the SMEs dimension;
  • An insight into high value-added production in competing economies, and the competitive position of European R&D&I in the NMBP areas, which can help EU industry benefit from international cooperation;
  • An understanding of the interdependencies between science, technology, the economy and society, which are associated to the technology driven paradigm change in production and consumption;
  • Concrete evidence and cases for the needs and framework conditions for industry and SMEs to invest and expand in Europe;
  • An inventory of strategies for potential large-scale industrial investments in Europe to deploy technological advances in new products and services on the market, taking into account public and private funding and financing possibilities including through Important Projects of Common European Interest and the European Fund for Strategic Investments;
  • An assessment of the contribution to this vision of relevant EU projects in the area of KETs, e.g. pilot lines and demonstrators; and
  • Promotion of the results of NMBP projects in this context.

The analysis and strategy work should also take into account "future of work" and social aspects as well as managers' and consumer behaviour aspects. Appropriate contributions from Social Sciences and Humanities (SSH) are therefore essential to the success of these activities.

Complementarity should be sought between this work and the work in the ICT part of Factories of the Future (notably topic FoF-12-2017 on ICT Innovation for Manufacturing SMEs (I4MS)) in the effort of supporting the transformation of the EU's industrial fabric.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU between EUR 1000000 and 1500000, and having a duration not exceeding 18 months, would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

No more than one action will be funded.

Expected Impact:
  • Improved understanding of the current situation and future perspectives for integrating key enabling technologies, in order to shape the future of the EU industry ensuring sustainable growth and jobs;
  • Significant increases in public and private investments in Europe's manufacturing industry;
  • Evidence for policy and other measures needed to improve the eco-system around the key enabling technologies, to help EU industry re-invest in Europe.

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