Research & Innovation - Participant Portal


TOPIC : Innovation in government - building an agile and citizen-centric public sector

Topic identifier: GOVERNANCE-18-2019
Publication date: 27 October 2017

Types of action: CSA Coordination and support action
Opening date:
06 November 2018
Deadline: 14 March 2019 17:00:00

Time Zone : (Brussels time)
  Horizon 2020 H2020 website
Pillar: Societal Challenges
Work Programme Year: H2020-2018-2020
Topic Description
Specific Challenge:

Given the weight and importance of the public sector in driving economic growth and competitiveness, tightening government budgets, increasing expectations of greater citizen participation in the design and delivery of public services and societal challenges that require new solutions, there is an urgent need to promote innovation and experimentation in the public sector. The purpose is to improve continuously the development of public policy, as well as the efficiency and delivery of public programs and services, and to enhance thereby the creation of public value.


Governments are currently facing accelerating technological and social changes. The complexity and interdependence of today’s 'wicked problems' require radically new approaches to public policy, regulation and service delivery. There is increased pressure on governments to work differently and more efficiently, to engage more with citizens and to transform their operations to harness the opportunities afforded by digital technologies and to adapt faster to emerging challenges. Driving systemic change requires change-makers and champions of innovation within the public sector, as government is the best placed to scale up meaningful solutions. This will require sweeping changes of mind-set and modus operandi in public authorities. As the role of the state evolves, governments must become proactive problem solvers and close collaborators with a wide variety of stakeholders throughout the innovation ecosystem to co-create new solutions.

A growing number of governments are strongly committed to improving their policies, programmes and services. Shifting to a user-centric focus that puts the citizen at the centre, public actors increasingly recognise the need for inclusive and sustainable responses to societal challenges. Most government innovation projects, however, stay small and never scale up to the point where they can make a difference within government administrations in the long run. Innovation is not yet considered a strategic function of government, or the core business of public administrators. There is therefore a need to support governments’ internal innovation efforts through an exchange of experiences and by concrete practical support based on their needs, in order to move from sporadic innovations to systemic transformations.

Based on the achievements and work of the Observatory of Public Sector Innovation managed by the OECD, governments would benefit from further knowledge sharing in an international context, collaboration and support in the practical application of new knowledge in areas of specific interest (e.g. system thinking and systemic transformations, experimentation, co-creation with the ecosystem, stakeholder engagement, dealing with complexity; matrix organizations; organizational culture development; innovation skills development; organizational frameworks conducive to innovation, innovation in regulation, etc.) in real life contexts. Building on this experience, the activity should focus on the following:

  • Developing and piloting practice-led reflections and learning programmes to support governments in their role as change agents (e.g. skills, mindset, organizational culture, hackathons, boot camps for public leaders and administrators);
  • Fostering an international conversation, allowing for exchange of experiences and peer learning between governments, including intensifying collaboration among public innovation practitioners (including workshops, developing common projects for incubation in real life contexts) in order to support the development of innovators in government.
  • Developing a new public sector innovation theory (instead of existing attempts using the business innovation logic) that will support better measurement of public sector innovation in an internationally comparative manner.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of EUR 1.5 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts. Demonstration of applicants' own investment to complement the available Commission contribution would be an asset.

Expected Impact:

The action will deliver learning programmes, (inter-governmental) collaborative projects and a growing body of practical experiences and knowledge, which will support the development of a 21st century model of innovative governance and government. The action will also contribute to embedding innovation as the new normal in government operations and to building inclusive and sustainable innovation communities in the public sector.

Cross-cutting Priorities:

International cooperation
Socio-economic science and humanities

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.

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 (single-stage call): 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):

Coordination and Support Action:

Specific provisions and funding rates
Standard proposal template
Standard evaluation form
General MGA - Multi-Beneficiary
Annotated Grant Agreement

6. Additional provisions:

Horizon 2020 budget flexibility


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

8. Additional documents:

1. Introduction WP 2018-2020
2. Europe in a changing world - inclusive, innovative and reflective societies WP 2018-2020
3. Dissemination, Exploitation and Evaluation WP 2018-2020

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

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.


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To access existing draft proposals for this topic, please login to the Participant Portal and select the My Proposals page of the My Area section.

Type of Action Coordination & support action [CSA]
Topic Innovation in government - building an agile and citizen-centric public sector - GOVERNANCE-18-2019
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