Call for proposals 2021 - A human-centred and ethical development of digital and industrial technologies 2021 HORIZON-CL4-2021-HUMAN-01 Open!

Objectives

Proposals for topics under this Destination should set out a credible pathway contributing to the following expected impact:

  • A human-centred and ethical development of digital and industrial technologies, through a two-way engagement in the development of technologies, empowering end-users and workers, and supporting social innovation.

As Europe takes the lead in the green and digital transitions, workers, regions, and societies are faced with extremely fast transformations, and will be differently affected by these changes. The rapid adoption of new technologies offers an immense potential for improved standards of living, safer mobility, better healthcare, new jobs, or the personalisation of public services. At the same time, it presents risks such as skills mismatches, digital divides, customer lock-in, or serious breaches of security or privacy.

As Europe sets off on its path to recovery towards a greener, digital and more resilient economy and society, the need to improve and adapt skills, knowledge and competences becomes all the more important. Developments in digital and enabling technologies have the potential to enhance social inclusion, can inform up-skilling training programmes and ensure a two-way engagement with society with regard to developing technologies.

The issue of trust has become central in the use of technologies, following revelations about the exploitation of personal data, large-scale cybersecurity and data breaches, and growing awareness of online disinformation. As outlined in the White Paper on Artificial Intelligence (COM(2020)65), for AI technologies, trust requires in particular improving transparency (explainability, expected levels of performance). For the Internet, increasing trust requires new tools and services to ensure that GDPR is a reality for end-users.

It is also an opportunity for Europe to re-gain presence on the consumer electronics market, by developing new interactive applications in various sectors with solutions meeting European values and requirements in terms of privacy and security. The COVID-19 crisis has also shown how important distance and innovative learning is for society.

Actions under this Destination will support EU objectives of inclusiveness, by supporting a human-centred approach to technology development that is aligned with European social and ethical values, as well as sustainability. These actions will further contribute to addressing the challenges faced by European industry and support the creation of sustainable, high-quality jobs by targeting skills mismatches, the need to empower workers, and ethical considerations relating to technological progress.

Actions should devote particular attention to openness of the solutions and results, and transparency of the research process. To ensure trustworthiness, public awareness and support, wide adoption by user communities for the benefit of society, actions should promote the highest standards of transparency and openness. Actions should ensure that the processes and outcomes of research and innovation align with the needs, values and expectations of society, in line with Responsible Research and Innovation.

This Destination is structured into the following headings, which group topics together with similar outcomes to address a common challenge:

  • Leadership in AI based on trust

The objective of this heading is to ensure autonomy for Europe in AI, leading the way in research, development and deployment of world-class technologies that are beneficial to humans individually, organisationally and societally, and that adheres to European values, such as the principles reflected in our fundamental rights and environmental sustainability. Technologies need to be developed that industries and citizens will trust, so and that they could be applied in a wide range of applications and industrial sectors. Trustworthy AI is particularly key in applications such as (but not limited to) healthcare or in diverse critical infrastructures such as energy and transportation.

Some topics of this heading are under the co-programmed Partnership ‘AI, Data and Robotics’.

Proposals are encouraged to link with relevant European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) and its Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs), in particular the EIT Digital.

EIT Digital plays role in shaping technologies and innovations that work for people. At least two of its focus areas, Digital Wellbeing and Digital Cities, address directly topics such as ethical artificial intelligence, predictive analytics or augmented and virtual reality that are relevant to this areas. The solutions will benefit from the increasing will of citizens to participate in the sharing economy. EIT Digital, through projects with cities for example, improves engagement and inclusiveness of the citizens and of the visitors by increasingly organising and exposing data, especially in real time and along with analytics and machine learning. Augmented and virtual reality of the cities are another facet of exposing or simulating city data from the past, present or future to the benefit of citizens. ​

  • An Internet of Trust

The issue of trust in the internet has become central, following revelations about the exploitation of personal data, large-scale cybersecurity and data breaches, and growing awareness of online disinformation. A 2019 survey[[]] shows that half of the global internet users are more concerned about their online privacy compared to a year previously. Distrust in the Internet is causing people to change the way they behave online, for example by disclosing less personal information. Users also express an increasing level of distrust of social media platforms.

The objective of this heading is to develop a trustworthy digital environment, built on a more resilient, sustainable, and decentralised internet, to empower end-users with more control over their data and their digital identity, and to enable new social and business models respecting European values.

  • eXtended Reality (XR)

Due to its low presence in the consumer electronics industry, Europe is increasingly dependent on external providers in this area. This raises concerns about its digital sovereignty in crucial domains such as digital interaction services that are being adopted by a growing number of European users and industries. The COVID-19 crisis has shown how important distance and innovative learning is for society, our children, their parents and their teachers, maintaining social and educational links under challenging circumstances. Emerging technologies such as virtual reality, eXtended Reality or immersive environments provide numerous opportunities for personalised, innovative, efficient and inclusive learning, for learners of all ages, gender and condition

The objective of this heading is to gain industrial leadership in eXtended Reality technologies and immersive environments, while ensuring the European values of privacy, ethics and inclusiveness. It also aims to support the digital transformation of education through these technologies in particular.

  • Systemic approaches to make the most of the technologies within society and industry.

This heading promotes various systemic approaches to encourage creativity and make the most of the technologies developed elsewhere within society and industry. They include testing ideas in local communities; support for IP, standardisation and industry-academia exchanges; art-driven design; and assessments of complex socio-economic systems. These are complemented by support for a network of National Contact Points (NCPs), with a special emphasis on engaging with new actors.

Activities beyond R&I investments will be needed to realise the expected impacts: testing, experimentation, demonstration, and support for take-up using the capacities, infrastructures, and European Digital Innovation Hubs made available under the Digital Europe Programme; further development of skills and competencies via the European Institute of Innovation and Technology, in particular EIT Digital and EIT Manufacturing; upscaling of trainings via the European Social Fund +; use of financial instruments under the InvestEU Fund for further commercialisation of R&I outcomes; and links to the thematic smart specialisation platform on industrial modernisation

Expected impact

Proposals for topics under this Destination should set out a credible pathway to contributing to a human-centred and ethical development of digital and industrial technologies, and more specifically to one or several of the following impacts:

  • Increased inclusiveness, by supporting a human-centred approach to technology development that is aligned with European social and ethical values, as well as sustainability;
  • Sustainable, high-quality jobs by targeting skills mismatches, the need to empower workers, and ethical considerations relating to technological progress[[2019 CIGI-Ipsos Global Survey on Internet Security and Trust]].

Actions

This call covers the following topics:

  • HORIZON-CL4-2021-HUMAN-01-01: Verifiable robustness, energy efficiency and transparency for Trustworthy AI: Scientific excellence boosting industrial competitiveness (AI, Data and Robotics Partnership) (RIA) (HORIZON-RIA - HORIZON Research and Innovation Actions)
  • HORIZON-CL4-2021-HUMAN-01-02: European coordination, awareness, standardisation & adoption of trustworthy European AI, Data and Robotics (AI, Data and Robotics Partnership) (CSA) (HORIZON-CSA - HORIZON Coordination and Support Actions)
  • HORIZON-CL4-2021-HUMAN-01-03: European Network of AI Excellence Centres: Pillars of the European AI lighthouse (RIA) (HORIZON-RIA - HORIZON Research and Innovation Actions)
  • HORIZON-CL4-2021-HUMAN-01-04: Trust & data sovereignty on the Internet (RIA) (HORIZON-RIA - HORIZON Research and Innovation Actions)
  • HORIZON-CL4-2021-HUMAN-01-05: Trustworthy open search and discovery (RIA) (HORIZON-RIA - HORIZON Research and Innovation Actions)
  • HORIZON-CL4-2021-HUMAN-01-06: Innovation for Media, including eXtended Reality (IA) (HORIZON-IA - HORIZON Innovation Actions)
  • HORIZON-CL4-2021-HUMAN-01-07: Next Generation Internet community-building and outreach (CSA) (HORIZON-CSA - HORIZON Coordination and Support Actions)
  • HORIZON-CL4-2021-HUMAN-01-08: NGI International Collaboration - Transatlantic fellowship programme (CSA) (HORIZON-CSA - HORIZON Coordination and Support Actions)
  • HORIZON-CL4-2021-HUMAN-01-09: NGI Tech Review (CSA) (HORIZON-CSA - HORIZON Coordination and Support Actions)
  • HORIZON-CL4-2021-HUMAN-01-13: eXtended Reality Modelling (RIA) (HORIZON-RIA - HORIZON Research and Innovation Actions)
  • HORIZON-CL4-2021-HUMAN-01-14: eXtended Reality for All – Haptics (RIA) (HORIZON-RIA - HORIZON Research and Innovation Actions)
  • HORIZON-CL4-2021-HUMAN-01-17: Awareness raising on Intellectual property (IP) management for European R&I (CSA) (HORIZON-CSA - HORIZON Coordination and Support Actions)
  • HORIZON-CL4-2021-HUMAN-01-18: Fostering standardisation to boost European industry's competitiveness (CSA) (HORIZON-CSA - HORIZON Coordination and Support Actions)
  • HORIZON-CL4-2021-HUMAN-01-19: Testing innovative solutions on local communities’ demand (CSA) (HORIZON-CSA - HORIZON Coordination and Support Actions)
  • HORIZON-CL4-2021-HUMAN-01-20: Piloting a new industry-academia knowledge exchange focussing on companies’ needs (CSA) (HORIZON-CSA - HORIZON Coordination and Support Actions)
  • HORIZON-CL4-2021-HUMAN-01-21: Art-driven use experiments and design (RIA) (HORIZON-RIA - HORIZON Research and Innovation Actions)
  • HORIZON-CL4-2021-HUMAN-01-24: Tackling gender, race and other biases in AI (RIA) (HORIZON-RIA - HORIZON Research and Innovation Actions)
  • HORIZON-CL4-2021-HUMAN-01-25: eXtended Collaborative Telepresence (IA) (HORIZON-IA - HORIZON Innovation Actions)
  • HORIZON-CL4-2021-HUMAN-01-26: Workforce skills for industry 5.0 (RIA) (HORIZON-RIA - HORIZON Research and Innovation Actions)
  • HORIZON-CL4-2021-HUMAN-01-27: AI to fight disinformation (RIA) (HORIZON-RIA - HORIZON Research and Innovation Actions)
  • HORIZON-CL4-2021-HUMAN-01-28: eXtended Reality Ethics, Interoperability and Impact (CSA) (HORIZON-CSA - HORIZON Coordination and Support Actions)
  • HORIZON-CL4-2021-HUMAN-01-29: Support for transnational activities of National Contact Points in the thematic area of Digital (CSA) (HORIZON-CSA - HORIZON Coordination and Support Actions)
  • HORIZON-CL4-2021-HUMAN-01-30: Support for transnational activities of National Contact Points in the thematic area of Industry (CSA) (HORIZON-CSA - HORIZON Coordination and Support Actions)
  • HORIZON-CL4-2021-HUMAN-01-31: Support for transnational activities of National Contact Points in the thematic area of Space (CSA) (HORIZON-CSA - HORIZON Coordination and Support Actions)

European community funding

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

  • 206,00 Million EUR (Global Budget)

All the important deadlines

  • 21 October 2021 - in 27 days (Deadline for the presentation of proposals)

Further information about the call

Official webpage of the call

Useful documents

  • Work Program (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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