Taking a deep dive into Horizon Europe funding for AI

Horizon Europe is the world’s largest transnational research funding programme, running from 2021 to 2027. The programme offers a multitude of opportunities for researchers as well as other societal actors.

In the thematic pillar of the programme – Global challenges and European industrial competitiveness – artificial intelligence is a horizontal priority where AI features as a key enabling technology across all clusters. Investments in AI itself are largely found in cluster 4 on digital, industry and space, where AI and robotics is listed as a key area of intervention.

According to the legislation that underpins Horizon Europe, the broad lines of AI-related intervention in the programme will cover:

  • Enabling AI technologies such as explainable AI, ethical AI, human-controlled AI, unsupervised machine learning and data efficiency and advanced human-machine and machine-machine interactions
  • Safe, smart, collaborative and efficient robotics and complex embodied and autonomous systems
  • Human-centric AI technologies for AI-based solutions
  • Developing and networking the research competences in the area of AI across Europe under an open collaborative perspective while also developing the capacity for closed testing
  • The employment of AI and robotics to support people affected by disability, and inclusion of marginalised individuals
  • Technologies for open AI platforms including software algorithms, data repositories, agent-based systems, robotics and autonomous systems platforms

The funding calls are found in two-year work programmes, with the last 2021-2022 WP deadlines now approaching. The 2023-2024 WP is currently being prepared by the European Commission, with publication foreseen towards the end of this year, so that calls can open in early 2023. At Research Services, we have sight of the WP drafts, which give an early indication of which topics may appear.

Having skimmed through the most recently received drafts, below is a flavour of what we can expect in terms of AI-related topics across clusters. Please note that the drafts are subject to change and some topics may change or disappear.

Cluster 1 – Health

  • Personalised prevention for non-communicable diseases – addressing areas of unmet needs using multiple data sources
  • Harnessing the potential of real-time data analysis and secure point-of-Care computing for the benefit of person-centred health and care delivery
  • Development and harmonisation of methodologies for assessing digital health technologies in Europe

Cluster 2 – Culture, creativity and inclusive society

  • Beyond the horizon: A human-friendly deployment of artificial intelligence and related technologies
  • New approaches for combatting corruption and other undue influences on political decision-making
  • Assessing and strengthening the complementarity between new technologies and human skills

Cluster 3 – Civil security for society

  • Capabilities for land border surveillance and situational awareness
  • Identify, inspect, neutralise Unexploded Ordnance (UXO) at sea

Cluster 4 – Digital, industry and space

  • Novel paradigms and approaches, towards AI-driven autonomous robots
  • Novel paradigms and approaches, towards AI-powered robots – step change in functionality
  • Industrial leadership in AI, Data and Robotics enabling the green transition
  • Computational models for the development of safe and sustainable by design chemicals and materials
  • Smart sensors for the home and personal products market
  • Cognitive Computing Continuum: Intelligence and automation for more efficient data processing
  • Next Generation eXtended Reality

Cluster 5 – Climate, energy and mobility

  • Further climate knowledge through advanced science and technologies for analysing Earth Observation and Earth System Model data
  • Critical technologies for the future ocean energy farms
  • User-centric design and operation of ZEV for optimized energy efficiency
  • Competitiveness and digital transformation in aviation – advancing further capabilities, digital approach to design
  • AI for advanced and collective perception and decision making for CCAM applications

Cluster 6 – Food, bioeconomy, natural resources, agriculture and environment

  • Transformative action of policy mixes, governance and digitalisation addressing biodiversity loss
  • Using automatic species recognition and artificial intelligence to fight illegal fish discards and revolutionise fisheries control
  • Eradicate micronutrient deficiencies in the EU
  • Citizens’ science as an opportunity to foster the transition to sustainable food systems
  • Knowledge and innovative solutions in agriculture for water availability and quality
  • Develop innovative applications to support the European Green Deal, building on meteorological satellite data
  • Digital technologies supporting plant health early detection, territory surveillance and phytosanitary measures
  • Data-driven solutions to foster industry’s contribution to inclusive and sustainable food system

Moreover, in the part of Horizon Europe called Widening participation and strengthening the ERA, early indications suggest that there will be prioritised funding to develop area-specific ethics and integrity guidance and training activities to support expertise for AI in specific fields of application.

It is also expected that future EIC Pathfinder Challenges will require the integration of AI. These opportunities will be known via the specific annual work programmes of EIC.

If you are a Lund University employee and have questions about, or plan to apply for, Horizon Europe, please get in touch with members of the Research Services EU-team.


april 28, 2022

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