EARSC Policy Blog: Horizon Europe Work Programme 2021-2022

An overview of the opportunities for the Earth Observation Downstream services sector

Good news! On 15th June 2021, the European Commission adopted the main work programme of Horizon Europe for the period 2021-2022. Horizon Europe is the 95,5 billion euros Research and Innovation programme for 2021-2027. Aligned with the ambitious objectives of the European Green Deal, Horizon Europe will contribute to achieve a more sustainable and digital Europe.

In the context of the work programme 2021-2022, the Commission will invest €14.7 billion in funding of which €5.8 billion will support projects in research and innovation to reach the EU’s objective to make the Union the first climate-neutral continent1.

The calls will present many topics for which space enabled applications can be developed. In the context of the transition towards a more resilient, green and digital Europe, there is no doubt that many opportunities will arise with the Horizon Europe calls.

The objective of this paper is to give a first assessment of these funding opportunities.

Horizon Europe’s destinations

For the first time in the EU Research and Innovation programmes, the use of space technologies is at the core of Horizon Europe and many calls offer funding to reinforce the EU capacity to access and use space. Martina Sindelar, Policy officer at DG Defis, confirmed it when she delivered her presentation during our EARSC annual event EXPANDEO2 on the 16th June 2021. She showed the opportunities for the Earth Observation Downstream industry in the context of Horizon Europe and stressed the fact that the use of EGNSS and Copernicus was “strongly and widely anchored”3 in Horizon Europe, both at the policy level (see the Horizon Europe Strategic plan 2021-2024) and in more than 100 calls across all clusters in the Horizon Europe Work Programme 2021-20224.

It should be recalled that Horizon Europe has 3 main pillars: Excellent science (Pillar 1), Global challenges and European Industrial Competitiveness (Pillar 2) and Innovative Europe (Pillar 3). Pillar 2 is composed of 6 clusters:

  • Health
  • Culture, Creativity and Inclusive Society
  • Civil Security for Society
  • Digital, Industry and Space
  • Climate, Energy and Mobility
  • Food, Bioeconomy, Natural resources, Agriculture and Environment

Under the Pillar 2, Cluster 4 “Digital, Industry and Space” focuses more specifically on the EU approach to technology development and aims to deliver in 6 objectives, through a series of “destinations” (technology sectors) in the Work Programme:

1 https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/IP_21_2993

2 Find more here: https://expandeo.earsc.org/

3 You can watch her presentation here : https://expandeo.earsc.org/session/dd41d626-0ca1-eb11-b566- 501ac5dd82e5

44 The list will be available soon.

 Destination’s titleBudget for 2021- 2022
1Climate neutral, circular and digitised production€734M
2Increased autonomy in key strategic value chains for resilient industry€760M
3World leading data and computing technologies€349M
4Digital and emerging technologies for competitiveness and fit for the Green Deal€734M
  5Open strategic autonomy in developing, deploying and using global space-based infrastructures, services, applications and data5  €497M
6A human-centred and ethical development of digital and industrial technologies€328M
2.      Workplan 2021 Space Calls:

Among the 31 topics detailed in the Workplan 2021-2022, we selected 12 thematics which are of particular interest for the EO Downstream services industry (6 topics for 2021 and 6 for 2022). The review of these calls demonstrates the importance of two main targets: 1- to build upon the Copernicus programme to ensure an enhanced quality and efficiency of the current services and 2- to encourage the development of new products and services in the context of the new Sentinel missions6.

HORIZON- CL4-SPACE- 2021-01-41    Copernicus Climate Change Service evolution11,10-development of new algorithms and processing chains preparing for the use of new products and services in the context of the new Sentinels satellites and new contributions missions -calling for new paradigms in data fusion, data processing and data visualization7
HORIZON- CL4-SPACE- 2021-01-42  Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service evolution7,40-expand the use of satellite data streams in the CAMS -Deliver near-real time operations based emissions of reactive gases and aerosol at global scale.8

55 We selected and described in this paper the calls that could be interesting under Destination 5 but it is important to note that calls under other destinations will be evaluated as well in another document to be published soon.

6 On that matter, EARSC published a position paper in April 2020: “Preparing the future of downstream services” describing the position of the European Earth Observation services industry on the evolution of the Copernicus Programme in its next phase.

7 See p. 322-323

8See p. 324

HORIZON- CL4-SPACE- 2021-01-43    Copernicus Security and Emergency Services evolution4,60-reduce gap between user needs and service provision -improve timeliness of access to data -new paradigms in data fusion, automation of complementary non EO data -Use the synergies between Copernicus and EGNSS under Cluster 3 “Civil security for society”.9
HORIZON- CL4-SPACE- 2021-01-44      Copernicus evolution for cross-services thematic domains5,60-Development of a proof-of-concept or prototype with a Copernicus based-solution to improve the European capacity for monitoring and forecasting the Arctic – Development of a proof-of-concept or prototype with a Copernicus-based solution to improve the European capacity for monitoring the UN Sustainable Development Goals indicators10
HORIZON- CL4-SPACE- 2021-01-81Space technologies for European non- dependence and competitiveness11,90-To improve the overall European space technology landscape and complement and/or create synergy with activities of European and national programmes either in the space or non-space fields11
HORIZON- CL4-SPACE- 2021-02-51EGNSS and Copernicus applications fostering the European Green Deal14,00-Development of innovative EGNSS and Copernicus applications to support the Green Deal objectives and its related policies12
3.      Workplan 2022 Space Calls
HORIZON- CL4-SPACE- 2022-01-41          Copernicus Marine Environment Monitoring Service evolution9,7-Development of efficient and reliable new products chains, calling for new paradigms in data fusion, data processing and data visualisation essential for the service to handle more high-volume satellite data sets and product sets – Development of new algorithms and processing chains preparing the use of the new types of space observation data (being from new Sentinels or other contributing missions) in order to allow development of new products or the improvement of existing products13

9 See p.328

10 See p.330

11 See p. 336

12 See p. 487

13 See p. 348-349

HORIZON- CL4-SPACE- 2022-01-42    Copernicus Anthropogenic CO2 Emissions Monitoring & Verification Support (MVS) capacity5,8-New and innovative methodologies to improve the definition of the correlations between emissions of co-emitted species (CO2, NO2, CO, CH4) in support of CO2 fossil fuel emission estimation New and innovative methodologies to improve the definition of the correlations between emissions of co-emitted species (CO2, NO2, CO, CH4) in support of CO2 fossil fuel emission estimation14
HORIZON- CL4-SPACE- 2022-01-43        Copernicus Land Monitoring Service evolution4,8-develop new and innovative methods to combine and explore data with different spatial and temporal characteristics using automatic processing for land cover and land cover status change assessment – the integration of various sensors will enhance the development of specific automatic processing approaches for real and near real time data processing to respond to emerging European policy needs15
HORIZON- CL4-SPACE- 2022-02-54        Copernicus downstream applications and the European Data Economy9,6-adopt state-of-the-art ICT technologies (such as, for example, Big Data and AI technologies in their wider declinations), and make use of existing European data infrastructures, such as Copernicus DIAS platforms, European open data portals, and industrial data platforms. -contribute to the digitization challenges of the European industry by opening up innovative business opportunities and to support societal challenges16
HORIZON- CL4-SPACE- 2022-02-55        Large-scale Copernicus data uptake with AI and HPC9,6Develop new and innovative products and services , having Copernicus data assets and services products at their core, and scaling up to the increased data volumes of Copernicus’ archives, by solving the technological challengesDevelop new, enabling, scalable, operational solutions and technologies to improve capabilities and performance of the Copernicus value chain and supporting infrastructure17
HORIZON- CL4-SPACE- 2022-02-56Designing space-based downstream applications with international partners5,1-The use of Copernicus data, to develop jointly algorithms, services and/or products, which serve local user needs

14 See p. 351

15 See p. 353

16 See p 501

17 See p. 502

   and/or enhance the Copernicus global product quality – The combined use of EGNSS and Copernicus to develop innovative downstream applications combining positing navigation and timing with Earth observation services.
Next steps:

As the European’s Research and Innovation programme, Horizon Europe aims at boosting key technologies and solutions underpinning the European Green Deal, the Sustainable Development Goals and the European Digital Strategy. In that context, activities under Cluster 4 “Digital, Industry and Space” will support key enabling technologies that are strategically important for Europe’s “data- agile” economy and competitiveness.

As described in the different calls above, the EO Downstream services industry will have many funding opportunities. We will get back to you with a more detailed document in the upcoming weeks to make sure that you have all the useful information!

Important information:

Horizon Europe Work Programme 2021-2022- General Annexes

Horizon Europe Work Programme 2021-2022- 7. Digital, Industry and Space

Funding and Tender opportunities

EU Funding and Tenders Online Manual

Author: EARSC

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