Research & Innovation - Participant Portal


TOPIC : Demonstrating systemic urban development for circular and regenerative cities

Topic identifier: CE-SC5-03-2018
Publication date: 27 October 2017
Focus area: Connecting economic and environmental gains - the Circular Econonmy (CE)

Types of action: IA Innovation action
Opening date:
07 November 2017
2nd stage Deadline:
27 February 2018 17:00:00
04 September 2018 17:00:00

Time Zone : (Brussels time)
  Horizon 2020 H2020 website
Pillar: Societal Challenges
Work Programme Year: H2020-2018-2020
Topic Updates
  • 20 February 2018 15:50

    Please find here the published FAQs.

  • 07 February 2018 15:00

    The page limit for a first stage proposal is 10 pages, including the cover page. You may remove the page break in that page so as to start drafting your proposal therein.

Topic Description
Specific Challenge:

Cities struggle in their transition to implement a full circular economy model incorporating regenerative practices. There is a clear need for cities to become circular in order to alter urban consumption patterns and value chains, and to stimulate innovation, business opportunities, and job creation in both established and newly created sectors. New, more flexible systemic urban planning instruments enabling the design and implementation of circular urban processes would make urban and peri-urban areas regenerative and facilitate their adaptation to emerging economic, social and environmental challenges.


Actions should demonstrate how cities[1] can be transformed into centres of circular innovation and stimulate regenerative practices in both urban and peri-urban areas (including the surrounding industrial areas and commercial ports).

Actions should develop and implement innovative urban planning approaches and instruments (e.g. dynamic and semantic 3D real time flexible geospatial data and planning tools, innovative governance and legislation enabling new practices, design approaches, business models, etc.) to support and guide the transition towards circular and regenerative cities in terms of their built environment, public space, urban spatial use and programming. They should demonstrate innovative solutions for closing the loop of urban material and resource flows within the nexus of water, energy, food, air, ecosystem services, soil, biomass, waste/wastewater, recyclables and materials and for supporting an increase in the regenerative capacity of the city while limiting pollution of the environment, for example by reducing the emissions of air pollutants. At the same time, these solutions should ensure sound management of trade-offs and synergies among and across sectors. They should include ways of sustainably reusing and (mixed-use) reprogramming of existing buildings, open spaces and (infra)structures. The action should actively involve public authorities, societal stakeholders and community-based partners such as city-makers, urban (fab-) labs, urban planners, (urban) designers, cultural & creative organisations, and start-ups in close collaboration with the cities to find practical and durable solutions.

In addition actions should develop and implement innovative local governance structures and networks to enhance circular economy innovation in the urban fabric and help prioritise flexible implementation of urban space programming for circular initiatives. Actions should enable the continuous monitoring and optimisation of “urban metabolic” processes and rapid management interventions, where needed, deploying new indicators enabling easy assessment, comparison and sharing of best practice on the ground as well as digital solutions comprising networks of sensors, big data, geo-localisation, observational programmes such as Copernicus and GEOSS, satellite navigation and positioning services offered by EGNOS/Galileo, and citizens’ observatories.

Actions are expected to establish long-term sustainable data platforms securing open, consistent data on the impacts of the deployed approaches, and to ensure interoperability of relevant data infrastructures for effective communication, public consultation, and exchange of experiences.

An interdisciplinary approach, including the participation of applied natural sciences, social sciences and humanities disciplines (such as behavioural economics, gender studies, urban planning and governance) is considered crucial to properly address the complex challenges of this topic.

Proposals should pay attention to the special call conditions for this topic.

To enhance the impact and promote upscaling and replication of these solutions, actions should engage in substantial networking and training activities to disseminate their experience, knowledge and deployment practices to cities that are planning to design and implement similar solutions in a successive phase beyond the duration of the project. To enhance impact, cooperation and synergies with the activities undertaken within the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy initiative, and in particular the regional component for Europe[2](supported by the EC) should be sought where appropriate.

Furthermore, actions should envisage resources for clustering with other ongoing and future projects on sustainable cities through nature-based solutions funded under the 'Smart and Sustainable Cities' call in part 17 of the 2016-2017 Work Programme as well as under the topics SC5-20-2019 and SC5-14-2019 of this Work Programme. They should also ensure that there will be no duplication with work undertaken by relevant projects funded under the topic 'CO-CREATION-02-2016 - User-driven innovation: value creation through design-enabled innovation'.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU in the range of EUR 10 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Expected Impact:

The project results are expected to contribute to:

  • measurable reduction of materials, natural resource consumption and environmental footprint in urban and peri-urban areas;
  • measurable increase of the regenerative capacity of urban and peri-urban areas due to a measurable increase in material and natural resource creation in cities, as well as increased productivity through maximisation of (multi)-functional use and programming of urban spaces;
  • set of social behavioural, economic, environmental performance and geospatial indicators to monitor and assess the urban and peri-urban circularity and regenerative capacity;
  • local governance innovation in response to the needs and concerns of stakeholders and the affected public as well as boosted creativity and entrepreneurship related to circularity and regenerative processes;
  • the implementation of the EU Circular Economy Action Plan with a direct link to the urban fabric (built and public space), and the Habitat III New Urban Agenda's commitment to transition to a circular economy.
Cross-cutting Priorities:

Clean Energy
Socio-economic science and humanities
Open Science

[1]For the purposes of this topic, the definition of a 'city' is to be understood according to the harmonised definition of a city established by the OECD and the European Commission, which can be found at:


Topic conditions and documents

1. Eligible countries: described in Annex A of the Work Programme.
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 2020 projects. See the information in the Online Manual.

2. Eligibility and admissibility conditions: described in Annex B and Annex C of the Work Programme. 

Specific eligibility and admissibility conditions apply to this topic:

To ensure coverage of geographic, socio-economic and cultural diversity across the EU, consortia must comprise at least 4 cities from different Member States or Associated Countries that are committed to implement the proposed innovative actions/schemes during the project and to assess their impacts and cost-efficiency in enhancing the circular and regenerative capacity of the cities.

Proposal page limits and layout: please refer to Part B of the proposal template in the submission system below. 

3. Evaluation:

  • Evaluation criteria, scoring and thresholds are described in Annex H of the Work Programme.
  • Submission and evaluation processes are described in the Online Manual.

4. Indicative time for evaluation and grant agreements:

Information on the outcome of evaluation (two-stage call):
For stage 1: maximum 3 months from the deadline for submission.
For stage 2: maximum 5 months from the deadline for submission.
Signature of grant agreements: maximum 8 months from the deadline for submission.

5. Proposal templates, evaluation forms and model grant agreements (MGA):

Innovation Action:

Specific provisions and funding rates
Proposal templates are available after entering the submission link below.
Standard evaluation form
General MGA - Multi-Beneficiary
Annotated Grant Agreement

6. Additional provisions:

Horizon 2020 budget flexibility
Classified information
Technology readiness levels (TRL) – where a topic description refers to TRL, these definitions apply

Specific Grant conditions apply to this topic:

As an exception from General Annex D for grants awarded under this topic and type of action, funding rate of construction and installation of “infrastructure-targeted” interventions is 20% of the eligible costs. Beneficiaries’ own resources and/or mobilisation and leverage of additional investments beyond Horizon 2020, whether private or public, should make up the remaining investment costs and should secure economic and financial sustainability for the execution of the project.

Members of consortium are required to conclude a consortium agreement, in principle prior to the signature of the grant agreement.

7. Open access must be granted to all scientific publications resulting from Horizon 2020 actions.

Where relevant, proposals should also provide information on how the participants will manage the research data generated and/or collected during the project, such as details on what types of data the project will generate, whether and how this data will be exploited or made accessible for verification and re-use, and how it will be curated and preserved.

Open access to research data
The Open Research Data Pilot has been extended to cover all Horizon 2020 topics for which the submission is opened on 26 July 2016 or later. Projects funded under this topic will therefore by default provide open access to the research data they generate, except if they decide to opt-out under the conditions described in Annex L of the Work Programme. Projects can opt-out at any stage, that is both before and after the grant signature.

Note that the evaluation phase proposals will not be evaluated more favourably because they plan to open or share their data, and will not be penalised for opting out.

Open research data sharing applies to the data needed to validate the results presented in scientific publications. Additionally, projects can choose to make other data available open access and need to describe their approach in a Data Management Plan.

Projects need to create a Data Management Plan (DMP), except if they opt-out of making their research data open access. A first version of the DMP must be provided as an early deliverable within six months of the project and should be updated during the project as appropriate. The Commission already provides guidance documents, including a template for DMPs. See the Online Manual.

Eligibility of costs: costs related to data management and data sharing are eligible for reimbursement during the project duration.

The legal requirements for projects participating in this pilot are in the article 29.3 of the Model Grant Agreement.

8. Additional documents:

1. Introduction WP 2018-20
12. Climate action, environment, resource efficiency and raw materials WP 2018-20
18. Dissemination, Exploitation and Evaluation WP 2018-20

General annexes to the Work Programme 2018-2020

Legal basis: Horizon 2020 Regulation of Establishment
Legal basis: Horizon 2020 Rules for Participation
Legal basis: Horizon 2020 Specific Programme

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No submission system is open for this topic.

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