How Cluster 4 – Digital, Industry & Space can help Europe get ready for the digital transformation

January 9, 2023

This cluster 4 of the Horizon Europe funding scheme comes after the first three ones, about Health, Culture, and Civil Security for Society, that we have analyzed in the relevant blog articles you can find in our site. Here we will analyze the 4th Cluster, about Digital, Industry & Space.

The 4th Cluster that is addressing issues of Digital, Industry & Space, is part of a series of six Clusters that come under the Pillar II of the Horizon Europe programme, named “Global Challenges & European Industrial Competitiveness”. The other 5 Clusters are: Health, Culture, Civil Security for Society, Climate, Energy & Mobility, and Food, Bioeconomy, Natural Resources, Agriculture & Environment. 

If you want to read more general information about the whole structure of the Horizon Europe programme, its components and aims, click on our relevant blog article.  

Cluster 4 | Digital, Industry & Space

Digitization of our everyday life is more prevalent nowadays than ever before. If you consider your everyday activities, how many of them do not use some kind of technology to get finished? Whether behind the computer screen at work or at home relaxing on your couch, you most probably use some kind of digital technology to communicate, shop, chat, get involved in a public initiative, book air tickets, play games, join an event, watch a webinar, pay the bills, etc. We are truly a digital society! In the business world, many enterprises operate in the same way if they do not want to stay behind. They use the internet to close commercial deals, to pay their employees, to interact with clients, to implement marketing tricks, even to stalk the competition! Not to mention the new capacities brought about during COVID-19, when businesses reinforced their digital services in order to endure and overcome the limitations of the lock-downs. According to statistics by Eurostat, in 2021, 56% of EU enterprises reached a basic level of digital intensity, meaning that they used at least four of twelve selected digital technologies (such as using any AI technology; having e-commerce sales account for at least 1% of total turnover; etc.). Digital technologies have the ability to transform the way the industry develops, produces new products and services, and are central to any sustainable future of the whole world and of course Europe. 

Europe faces another major challenge of staying resilient and productive yet democratic and inclusive while making pivotal changes in its digital technologies’ infrastructure and industrial base. It needs to strengthen its autonomy and create its own resources, provide crucial raw materials, technologies and services that are safe and secure for industry and people, thus reducing its dependency on other external economies. It also has to reach some targets that relate to the peoples’ digital literacy skills as well. For example, the EU needs to add 1.2 million ICT (Information & Communications Technology) specialists to the employment figures every year until 2030 to hit its Digital Decade targets. It similarly needs to make an extra 20% of the EU’s population digitally literate by the same year. These are pressing tasks, especially when today barely more than 50% of EU citizens can conduct basic tasks like downloading an app or purchasing online, and when EU average figures mask substantial differences in technology access among specific groups.

This Cluster number 4 addresses one more technology sector, the one related to space. From mobile communication to global navigation, from intelligence data to climate change mitigation — satellite infrastructure is one of the most important of our century. The EU has to decide the role it wants to play in this increasingly contested terrain. It needs to tackle important questions like space traffic management, corporate liability and sustainability. As for our own space activities, with Copernicus, Galileo and EGNOS, the European Union has proven that it is capable of facilitating world leading satellite programmes.

In conclusion, the overarching vision behind the proposed investments under Cluster 4 is that of Europe shaping competitive, secure and trusted becoming the leader in key areas, while respecting the boundaries of our planet, and maximising the benefits for all parts of society.

In that scope, the European Union along with the European Commission and the European Parliament have decided to dedicate €2,54 billion to projects related to this Cluster about Digital, Industry & Space (figures published on 23/12/22). 

The Destinations or impacts of Cluster 4:

Actions under this cluster will support key enabling technologies that are strategically important for Europe’s industrial future, and deliver on the following six expected impacts in the Strategic Plan, through matching destinations in this Work Programme: 

  • Industrial leadership and increased autonomy in key strategic value chains with security of supply in raw materials.
  • Globally attractive, secure and dynamic data-agile economy.
  • Open strategic autonomy in digital technologies and in future emerging enabling technologies.
  • Open strategic autonomy in developing, deploying and using global space-based infrastructures,
  • services, applications and data.
  • A human-centred and ethical development of digital and industrial technologies.
  • Global leadership in clean & climate-neutral industrial value chains, circular economy and climate-neutral digital systems and infrastructures.

Some facts & figures | Projects, participants & funding under Digital, Industry & Space of the Horizon Europe

About the funding of the projects under the Cluster Digital, Industry & Space (that belongs in the Pillar II: “Global Challenges & European Industrial Competitiveness”), we can see that the Net EU contribution is €2,54 billion, with the total cost reaching €3,01 billion, 439 signed grants in total for 2021 and 2022 and with 5.891 organisations participating in them (figures published on 23/12/22). 

The four top participating countries in terms of the number of participants are in this order: Spain, Germany, Italy and France. 

The top four participant countries in terms of the NET EU contribution come in this order: Germany, Spain, Italy, France

The top three participating organisations in terms of Net EU contribution are: 

Fraunhofer Germany (FRAUNHOFER GESELLSCHAFT ZUR FORDERUNG DER ANGEWANDTEN FORSCHUNG EV), Imec from Belgium (INTERUNIVERSITAIR MICRO-ELECTRONICA CENTRUM) and Commissariat à l’énergie atomique et aux énergies alternatives (CEA) from France.

Cyprus’ financing on Cluster Digital, Industry & Space of the Horizon Europe

Concerning the projects funded under this Cluster about Digital, Industry & Space, Cyprus is coming in the 21st position in terms of the number of participants (figures published on 23/12/22).

The Net EU contribution is €23,59 million, with the total cost reaching €26,08 million, 37 signed grants in total for 2021 and 2022 and with 52 organisations participating in them.
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