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Topic outline

  • Brief information on the Funding Opportunity

    Program: Horizon Europe Framework Programme (HORIZON)  |  Call ID: HORIZON-CL5-2023-D5-01-16
    Geographical coverage: EU

    Available contribution €: 9 000 000 €

    Deadlines: 20 April 2023 17:00:00 Brussels time

    Type of Action: HORIZON-RIA HORIZON Research and Innovation Actions

    Type of MGA: HORIZON Action Grant Budget-Based [HORIZON-AG]

    For more information on meanings of TRL, Type of Project and General Rules, please refer to the General Annexes of the Work Programme:  Link to the General Annexes of the Work Programme

  • This topic was introduced in the Horizon Europe info days - Cluster 5, you can find the video and presenation below

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  • Expected Outcomes

    Project outputs and results are expected to contribute to the following expected outcomes:

    • Development and validation of a small zero-emission automated vessel concept which can support shifting cargo from road to water. The concept will take into account cargo types and navigation conditions (e.g. small waterways, bridges, locks and shallow coastal waters and estuaries).
    • Quantification and assessment of the reduced costs and emissions and stronger intra- and intermodal competitiveness of waterborne transport through integration of zero emission propulsion of automated vessels and transhipment into automated transport chains, internet of things and possibly urban logistics.
    • Development of business models that benefit from a high degree of automation digitalisation, considering technical, safety, security and organisational aspects and when relevant smart on demand services.

  • Scope

    Waterborne transport can transfer large freight volumes from road and as a result reduce emissions and decongest road infrastructure. There are large opportunities to increase waterborne freight, especially in coastal and inland or congested urban regions. This potential is particularly underdeveloped within smaller waterways, lakes, estuaries and intra urban regions and with the use of less developed ports which are not accessible for larger vessels.

    Whilst projects addressing coastal transport and metropolitan inland waterway transport, including new autonomous waterborne feeder loop logistic services are underway, these remain at an early stage or are tailored to specific use cases which cannot be widely deployed.

    Emerging energy efficient, zero-emission and automation technology can help fully exploit the potential of small-sized waterborne transport but are expected to be adopted to the needs of such vessels and the related additional transhipment.

    Lower costs are needed for small waterborne transport to become more competitive with road transport.

    Flexible, fully automated transport chain is expected to facilitate waterborne services to new and previously poorly accessible regions.

    Shallow water depths of smaller waterways with confined conditions require a broad variety of intelligent vessel solutions, which are tailored to the regional requirements, the specifics of individual cargo types and load units, e.g., ISO containers, swap-bodies, unitized and palletized goods for urban transport etc.

    Decarbonisation of propulsion systems is needed to address the challenges of climate change. Automated solutions need to also take into account unexpected recreational users of the waterways.

    Research should develop versatile zero emission solutions for small, shallow water capable automated vessels that are also usable on different classes of waterway and/or coastal waters.

    Developments should advance beyond the state of the art taking into account current and emerging developments concerning low-water designs, modular vessels, automation, digital communication and security battery electrification, charging, and propulsion systems.

    Proposals are expected to address all of the following aspects:

    • Development, testing and demonstration of the automated flexible vessel concepts with emission-free propulsion systems in a relevant environment. In addition, the optimisation of the logistics chain will be assessed through logistics modelling.
    • Innovative automation approaches for substantial cost savings.
    • Tailored propulsion arrangements for small, flexible and versatile vessels which are compatible with shallow water.
    • Automated operations in multimodal logistics should be envisaged through further development and integration of single automated functions into fully autonomous systems such as; navigation and vessel command, machinery surveillance, maintenance, berthing, cargo handling, transhipment etc.
    • Self-organised or remotely controlled fleet-wide coordination of operations, along with an integration of the vessels into land-based digital logistics processes.
    • The development of new business models including a high degree of digitalisation and smart on-demand services. Consideration of key stakeholder behaviours, including retailers’ and customers.
    • Ensuring safety, cyber security and resilience of automations systems.
    • Early communication and discussion with relevant regulatory and standardisation bodies.

  • Specific Topic Conditions

    Activities are expected to achieve TRL 5-6 by the end of the project – see General Annex B.
  • Clean and competitive solutions for all transport modes (2023/24)

    This Destination addresses activities that improve the climate and environmental footprint, as well as competitiveness, of different transport modes.

    The transport sector is responsible for 23% of CO2 emissions and remains dependent on oil for 92% of its energy demand. While there has been significant technological progress over past decades, projected GHG emissions are not in line with the objectives of the Paris Agreement due to the expected increase in transport demand. Intensified research and innovation activities are therefore needed, across all transport modes and in line with societal needs and preferences, in order for the EU to reach its policy goals towards a net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and to reduce significantly air pollutants.

    The areas of rail and air traffic management will be addressed through dedicated Institutional European Partnerships and are therefore not included in this document.

    This Destination contributes to the following Strategic Plan’s Key Strategic Orientations (KSO):

    • C: Making Europe the first digitally enabled circular, climate-neutral and sustainable economy through the transformation of its mobility, energy, construction and production systems;
    • A: Promoting an open strategic autonomy[[ ‘Open strategic autonomy’ refers to the term ‘strategic autonomy while preserving an open economy’, as reflected in the conclusions of the European Council 1 – 2 October 2020.]] by leading the development of key digital, enabling and emerging technologies, sectors and value chains to accelerate and steer the digital and green transitions through human-centred technologies and innovations.

    It covers the following impact areas:

    • Industrial leadership in key and emerging technologies that work for people;
    • Smart and sustainable transport.

    The expected impact, in line with the Strategic Plan, is to contribute “Towards climate-neutral and environmental friendly mobility through clean solutions across all transport modes while increasing global competitiveness of the EU transport sector", notably through:

    • Transforming road transport to zero-emission mobility through a world-class European research and innovation and industrial system, ensuring that Europe remains world leader in innovation, production and services in relation to road transport (more detailed information below).
    • Accelerating the reduction of all aviation impacts and emissions (CO2 and non-CO2, including manufacturing and end-of-life, noise), developing aircraft technologies for deep reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, and maintaining European aero-industry’s global leadership position (more detailed information below).
    • Accelerate the development and prepare the deployment of climate neutral and clean solutions in the inland and marine shipping sector, reduce its environmental impact (on biodiversity, noise, pollution and waste management), improve its system efficiency, leverage digital and EU satellite-navigation solutions and contribute to the competitiveness of the European waterborne sector (more detailed information below).
    • Devising more effective ways for reducing emissions and their impacts through improved scientific knowledge (more detailed information below).

    Several levels of interactions are foreseen with other European initiatives, in particular with the Industrial Battery Value Chain (BATT4EU) partnership, the Cooperative Connected and Automated Mobility (CCAM) partnership and the Mission on Climate Neutral and Smart Cities, in particular:

    • Joint topic “2ZERO – BATT4EU” D5-1-4 B - Innovative battery management systems for next generation vehicles (2ZERO & Batteries Partnership) (2023)
    • Joint topic “CCAM – 2ZERO – Mission on Climate Neutral and Smart Cities” D5-1-5 Co-designed smart systems and services for user-centred shared zero-emission mobility of people and goods in urban areas (2ZERO, CCAM and Cities’ Mission) (2023)

    Zero-emission road transport

    Main expected impacts:

    • Affordable, user-friendly charging infrastructure concepts and technologies that are easy to deploy with a wide coverage of urban spaces and of the road network and include vehicle-grid-interactions, ready for mass electrification of passenger and freight road transport.
    • Accelerated uptake of affordable, user-centric solutions for optimised energy efficiency and energy flexibility (vehicles and services).
    • Effective design, assessment and deployment of innovative zero-emission solutions for the clean road transport challenge.
    • Innovative demonstrations use cases for the integration of zero tailpipe emission vehicles, and infrastructure concepts for the road mobility of people and goods.
    • Increased user acceptability of zero tailpipe emission vehicles, improved air quality, a more circular economy and reduction of environmental and health[[These aspects are also dealt with in the specific “Impact of transport on environment and human health” section]] impacts.
    • Support EU leadership in world transport markets at component, vehicle and transport system level, including related services.


    Main expected impacts:

    • Disruptive low TRL technologies that have potential to lead to 30% reduction in fuel burn and CO2, by 2035, between the existing aircraft in service and the next generation, compared to 12-15% in previous replacement cycles (when not explicitly defined, baselines refer to the best available aircraft of the same category with entry into service prior to year 2020).
    • Disruptive low TRL technologies that have potential to enter into service between 2035 and 2050, based on new energy carriers, hybrid-electric architectures, next generation of ultra-high efficient engines and systems, advanced aerostructures that will enable new/optimised aircraft configurations and their cost-competitive industrialisation.
    • New technologies for significantly lower local air-pollution and noise.
    • Increased understanding and analysis of mitigation options of aviation’s non-CO2 climate impacts.
    • Accelerated uptake of sustainable aviation fuels in aviation, including the coordination with EU Member States/Associated countries and private initiatives.
    • Maintain global competitiveness and leadership of the European aeronautics ecosystem. Focus on selected breakthrough manufacturing and repair technologies that have high potential to lower the overall operating cost.
    • Further develop the EU policy-driven planning and assessment framework/toolbox towards a coherent R&I prioritisation and timely development of technologies in all three pillars of Horizon Europe. Contribute to the mid-term Horizon Europe impact assessment of aviation research and innovation.

    Waterborne transport

    Main expected impacts:

    • Increased and early deployment of climate neutral fuels, and significant electrification of shipping, in particular intra-European transport connections.
    • Increased overall energy efficiency and use of renewable energies such as wind to drastically lower fuel consumption of vessels. This is increasingly important considering the likelihood of more expensive alternative fuels, where in some cases the waterborne sector will have to compete with other transport modes.
    • Enable the innovative port infrastructure (bunkering of alternative fuels and provision of electrical power) needed to achieve zero-emission waterborne transport (inland and maritime).
    • Enable clean, climate-neutral, and climate-resilient inland waterway vessels before 2030 helping a significant market take-up and a comprehensive green fleet renewal which will also help modal shift.
    • Strong technological and operational momentum towards achieving climate neutrality and the elimination of all harmful pollution to air and water.
    • Achieve the smart, efficient, secure and safe integration of maritime and inland shipping into logistic chains, facilitated by full digitisation, automation, resilient and efficient connectivity.
    • Enable safe and efficient fully automated and connected shipping (maritime and inland).
    • Competitive European waterborne industries, supporting employment and reinforcing the position of the European maritime technology sector within global markets. Providing the advanced green and digital technologies which will support European jobs and growth.

    Impact of transport on environment and human health

    Main expected impacts:

    • The reduction of road vehicle polluting emissions (looking at both regulated, unregulated and emerging ones) from both existing and future automotive fleets in urban and peri-urban areas.
    • The better monitoring of the environmental performance and enforcement of regulation (detection of defeat devices, tampered anti-pollution systems, etc.) of fleets of transport vehicles, be it on road, airports and ports.
    • Substantially understand and provide solutions to reduce the overall environmental impact of transport (e.g.: as regards biodiversity, noise, pollution and waste) on human health and ecosystems.

  • General conditions

    1. Admissibility conditions: described in Annex A and Annex E of the Horizon Europe Work Programme General Annexes

    Proposal page limits and layout: described in Part B of the Application Form available in the Submission System

    2. Eligible countries: described in Annex B of the Work Programme General Annexes

    A number of non-EU/non-Associated Countries that are not automatically eligible for funding have made specific provisions for making funding available for their participants in Horizon Europe projects. See the information in the Horizon Europe Programme Guide.

    3. Other eligibility conditions: described in Annex B of the Work Programme General Annexes

    If projects use satellite-based earth observation, positioning, navigation and/or related timing data and services, beneficiaries must make use of Copernicus and/or Galileo/EGNOS (other data and services may additionally be used).

    4. Financial and operational capacity and exclusion: described in Annex C of the Work Programme General Annexes

    5. Evaluation and award:

    • Award criteria, scoring and thresholds are described in Annex D of the Work Programme General Annexes

    • Submission and evaluation processes are described in Annex F of the Work Programme General Annexes and the Online Manual

    • Indicative timeline for evaluation and grant agreement: described in Annex F of the Work Programme General Annexes

    6. Legal and financial set-up of the grants: described in Annex G of the Work Programme General Annexes

    7. Specific conditions: described in the specific topic of the Work Programme

  • Documents

  • Additional documents