Call for proposals 2021 - Horizon Europe - European Excellence Initiative (EEI): Strengthening capacity for excellence in higher education institutions and surrounding ecosystems HORIZON-WIDERA-2021-ACCESS-05 Open!


The purpose of the current Horizon Europe action is to support capacity building for networks of higher education institutions and their partners in the local ecosystem, with a view of preparing integrated cooperation between institutions. Higher education institutions may include any type of HEI, research organisations, academies of science, polytechnic HEIs, HEIs of applied science, and specialised public laboratories. Higher Education Institutions’ partners in surrounding ecosystems such as businesses, societal actors or other non-academic entities are encouraged to be involved as partner organisations. The capacity building aims to significantly strengthen cooperation between at
least two organisations from higher education sector in a Widening country (or different Widening countries), by linking it with at least two internationally-leading institutions from two different Member States or Associated Countries.
The action will not fund research and innovation activities; rather it is meant to support the development of joint strategies, and concrete action plans empowering the networks’ research and innovation transformations, as well as the (initial) implementation of the respective action plans, where possible in connection with other relevant EU or national funding sources.
The support for the transformation will occur with respect for the autonomy and diversity of HEIs. The way forward within the different areas for transformation remains the choice of the HEI network. A joint long-term vision to drive systemic, structural and sustainable impact at all levels of the participating higher education institutions developed for the research and innovation dimension should, if and where needed, be elaborated for education.


 Projects are expected to contribute to the following outcomes:

  • Integrated and longer term cooperation between the partner higher education institutions (HEI) in the network, and with actors in surrounding ecosystems, jointly creating critical mass to contribute better to major societal challenges;
  • Tangible progress towards institutional transformation / modernisation of HEI (in its broadest sense), including through pilots or study cases, with a particular emphasis on the entities located in widening countries;
  • Strengthened cooperation with a view to raising excellence, global competitiveness, and general attractiveness for international talents and investments, including gender equality provisions; this includes preparations to embark onto the potential future European Universities initiative;
  • Contribute to a portfolio of successful cooperation models for modernisation/ transformation at research and innovation level, in synergy with HEI’s education dimension; identify remaining barriers at regional/national/EU level hampering cooperation between HEI and modernisation of HEI; act as a regional role model of successful transformation;
  • Facilitate future synergies between the European Education Area and the European Research Area, in particular in relation to the European Universities alliances.

European community funding

The Community provisional funding available for the call for proposals is:

  • 30,00 Million EUR (Global Budget)

All the important deadlines

  • 04 November 2021 - in one month (Deadline for the presentation of proposals)

Further information about the call

Official webpage of the call

Useful documents

  • Call for proposals (Legal base)

Organisations eligible to participate

Opened to the following bodies or institutes with legal status established in the covered areas:

  • Any legal organisation

Covered areas

Bodies or institutes must have their registered legal seat in one of the countries taking part in the Programme which are:

  • European Union (EU)

Directorate-Generale responsible

Directorate-General for Research

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