Research & Innovation - Participant Portal


TOPIC : European City Facility - European cities as key innovation hubs to unlock finance for energy efficiency

Topic identifier: LC-SC3-EE-17-2019
Publication date: 27 October 2017
Focus area: Building a low-carbon, climate resilient future (LC)

Types of action: CSA Coordination and support action
Opening date:
01 August 2018
Deadline: 05 February 2019 17:00:00

Time Zone : (Brussels time)
  Horizon 2020 H2020 website
Pillar: Societal Challenges
Work Programme Year: H2020-2018-2020
Work Programme Part: Secure, clean and efficient energy
Topic Updates
  • 08 June 2018 15:44

    The Frequently Asked Questions for topic LC-SC3-EE-17-2019 can be accessed here.

Topic Description
Specific Challenge:

Mobilising investment in energy efficiency and renewables is key for Europe's energy transition. The European Commission proposed the Smart Financing for Smart Buildings (SFSB) initiative in the recently published Clean Energy for All Europeans winter package.

For the SFSB to succeed it is essential to boost project aggregation and build a substantial pipeline of energy efficiency investment projects across Europe. Cities and communities are the place where economic, social and environmental transformation actually happens. Cities and communities play a key role in aggregating smaller projects into sizable packages and in mobilising the significant amount of finance needed for the energy transition.

However, despite a tremendous potential, too few cities and communities in Europe succeed in developing and scaling up investment packages. A high degree of organisational, technical and financial innovation is needed to reach significant scale. A key gap is the lack of capacity of public authorities, especially of small and medium-sized municipalities to transform their overall long-term strategies, e.g. Sustainable Energy Action Plans (SEAPs) or similar, into credible investment concepts. Public authorities have limited resources, in particular, to access financial, technical and legal expertise needed to collect additional data, develop an investment programme of scale (e.g. pooling projects and/or bundling with neighbouring constituencies) and design finance strategies which demonstrate sufficient maturity to enable access to different finance routes, i.e. to develop their 'investment concept'.

These concepts would allow a large number of cities and communities to start the process for mobilising the investments in sustainable energy. When relevant, such concepts could be combined with other EU financing streams and services to trigger the expected investment (e.g. EFSI[1], ESIF[2], PDA[3], National Investment Platforms).


Proposals are expected to set up and run a 'European City Facility' which offers financial support and services to cities and municipalities or their groupings:

  • The European City Facility should offer financial support to develop innovative investment concepts within a limited period of time, covering, inter-alia: a clear identification of the potential project pipeline, legal analysis, governance analysis, a description of how the investments will be financed and a design of the process to launch the investments.
  • Proposals should foresee to provide support to third parties ('support scheme') as described in part K of the General Annexes of the Work Programme. At least 80% of the budget should directly benefit cities, municipalities or their groupings.
  • Proposers should demonstrate the ability to run a support scheme at large scale in accordance with Horizon 2020 standards and that they are able to select the most cost-efficient and appropriate city and community applications taking account, inter alia, the scale of the potential investment and the number of inhabitants covered.
  • Proposers should be deeply rooted in the ecosystems of municipal sustainable energy planning and the challenge of finance of energy efficiency. Proposers should demonstrate that they are able to mobilise a critical mass of cities/municipalities or their groupings and have a sound and inclusive outreach strategy to cities and communities across Europe.
  • Proposals should foresee services to underpin European added value and earmark appropriate resources (maximum 10% of the requested EU contribution) for common actions that will underpin European added value.
  • In order to qualify for support through the European City Facility, cities and communities or their groupings should provide proof of political commitment, demonstrate, additionally to existing planning processes and resources, a minimum population covered (single or in groupings of municipalities) and an ambitious scale of potential investment and level of energy savings based on politically approved SEAPs, SECAPs[4] or plans of similar ambition, describe the investment sectors targeted, the type of financial solutions envisaged, the governance to develop the investment concept, and include a plan for long-term capacity building within the public administration, a plan on how they will engage with representatives of the key segments and citizens and a commitment for monitoring for 2 years.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of around EUR 16 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:

Proposals are expected to demonstrate the impacts listed below, using quantified indicators and targets wherever possible:

  • Demonstration and documentation of increased leveraging of finance into energy efficiency investments by public authorities;
  • Overall, the action should trigger for every million Euro of Horizon 2020 support sustainable energy investments worth at least EUR 20 million;
  • Number of investment concepts delivered, and number of concepts that turned into tangible investments after the provided support;
  • Number of public authority staff with increased capacity for developing investible energy efficiency projects;
  • Innovation uptake by potential replicators;
  • Primary energy savings, renewable energy production and investments in sustainable energy triggered by participating public authorities after the support of the action (respectively in GWh/year and in million EUR of investments).

Additional positive effects can be quantified and reported when relevant and wherever possible:

  • Reduction of greenhouse gases emissions (in tCO2-eq/year) and/or air pollutants (in kg/year) triggered by the project.

[1]European Fund for Strategic Investments

[2]European Structural and Investment Funds

[3]Project Development Assistance, e.g. ELENA-EIB, EASME PDA

[4]Sustainable Energy and Climate Action Plan

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

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

For grants awarded under this topic beneficiaries should provide support to third parties as described in part K of the General Annexes of the Work Programme. The support to third parties can only be provided in the form of lump sum grants. The respective options of Article 15.1 and Article 15.3 of the Model Grant Agreement will be applied.

8. Additional documents:

1. Introduction WP 2018-20
10. Secure, clean and efficient energy 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

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.


Partner Search
Organisations are looking for collaborating partners for this topic
View/Edit Partner Search

LEARs, Account Administrators or self-registrants can publish partner requests for open and forthcoming topics after logging into the Participant Portal.

Submission Service

To access the Electronic Sumission Service, please click on the submission-button next to the type of action that corresponds to your proposal. You will then be asked to confirm your choice of the type of action and topic, as these cannot be changed in the submission system. Upon confirmation, you will be linked to the correct entry point.

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 European City Facility - European cities as key innovation hubs to unlock finance for energy efficiency - LC-SC3-EE-17-2019
Guidance on proposal submission: H2020 online manual
IT Guidance: IT help

Get support

H2020 Online Manual is your guide on the procedures from proposal submission to managing your grant.

Participant Portal FAQ – Submission of proposals.

National Contact Points (NCP) - contact your NCP for further assistance in your national language(s).

Research Enquiry Service – ask questions about any aspect of European research in general and the EU Research Framework Programmes in particular.

Enterprise Europe Network – contact your EEN national contact for advice to businesses with special focus on SMEs. The support includes guidance on the EU research funding.

IT Helpdesk - contact the Participant Portal IT helpdesk for questions such as forgotten passwords, access rights and roles, technical aspects of submission of proposals, etc.

Ethics – for compliance with ethical issues, see the Online Manual and Science and Society Portal

European IPR Helpdesk assists you on intellectual property issues

CEN and CENELEC, the European Standards Organisations, advise you how to tackle standardisation in your project proposal. Contact CEN-CENELEC Research Helpdesk at

The European Charter for Researchers and the Code of Conduct for their recruitment

Partner Search Services help you find a partner organisation for your proposal.