Research & Innovation - Participant Portal


TOPIC : Potential of the Physical Internet

Topic identifier: MG-5-4-2017
Publication date: 14 October 2015

Types of action: CSA Coordination and support action
Opening date:
20 September 2016
Deadline: 01 February 2017 17:00:00

Types of action: RIA Research and Innovation action
Opening date:
20 September 2016
2nd stage Deadline:
26 January 2017 17:00:00
19 October 2017 17:00:00

Time Zone : (Brussels time)
  Horizon 2020 H2020 website
Pillar: Societal Challenges
Work Programme Year: H2020-2016-2017
Topic Updates
  • 12 January 2017 15:46

    Please note that from January 2017 Switzerland is associated to the whole Horizon 2020 programme instead of the previous partial association. This applies to all the grant agreements signed on 1 January 2017 and afterwards. For more information see the relevant Note on the Participant Portal.

Topic Description
Specific Challenge:

Ongoing research efforts show that the translation of the working principles of the Digital Internet to the routing of freight, thus creating the Physical Internet (PI), has the potential to be a real game-changer. In the PI world freight travels from hub to hub in an open network rather than from origin to destination directly. Each parcel is routed automatically and at each section it is bundled for efficiency. In the PI network of networks many (if not all) transport and logistics services would be accessible on demand to all users.

This will however require the successful integration of many innovative concepts and non-the-least the mental-shift to adopt a very different governance structure. The Internet of Things for example, which could link every future container, load unit or parcel to the internet, can be considered a pre-requisite for the Physical Internet to work as there will be an increased need to track all goods in a freight environment lacking a fixed and known transport route. The main challenge is to model a future Physical Internet network topology and assess the benefits it could generate in terms of carbon footprint, throughput times and cost reductions. Additionally the concept of the Physical Internet, already identified by ALICE[1], needs to be detailed into a strategic and operational vision which has the capability to get industry-wide endorsement of all stakeholders.


This topic will be implemented through two types of actions:

1) Research and Innovation Actions. Proposals should cover all the following issues:

―Set up a case study, based on real situation, to identify the position, size and number of hubs needed for efficiently linking the long distance network and providing sufficient access points to urban areas.

―Map the influence sphere of each node and its benefits across borders to fuel future shared investments.

―Develop simulation and modelling tools to assess the possible impact of the PI, including the socio-economic aspects.

―Identify criteria for potential pilot implementations of physical internet concepts.

―Define possible business models to support the development of the PI concept.

2) Coordination and Support Actions. Proposals should cover all the following issues:

―Develop a roadmap towards the Physical Internet (milestones, first implementation opportunities, etc.) defining which changes are required for migrating to a PI and how these could take place (e.g. current vs future logistic practices, IT applications and enabling technologies, business models, mental shift, integration of SMEs, customer behaviour, etc.).

―Monitor logistics and freight transport initiatives and research projects from relevant European programmes (H2020, TEN-T, etc.), and their impacts and contributions to Physical Internet. Fostering the links between ALICE and other transport and manufacturing focused ETPs with the aim to identify barriers and opportunities for the deployment of research results and improvement of framework conditions.

―Create support and consensus between public bodies, research and industry stakeholders on opportunities, barriers and next steps towards a PI. Organise workshops to present and discuss results, trends, exchange experience and foster innovation aspects

―Explore the need for legislative initiatives by authorities, including a legal contractual framework for participants to the Physical Internet.

In line with the Union's strategy for international cooperation in research and innovation[2], international cooperation, in particular with US, Canada and Hong Kong, is encouraged.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of between EUR 2 to 3 million each for Research and Innovation Actions, and between EUR 0.5 to 1 million for Coordination and Support Actions would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Expected Impact:

To achieve the benefits resulting from the paradigm change proposed by the Physical Internet, actions are expected to demonstrate how the following aspects can be achieved:

―Kick-Start the development of the Physical Internet through building industry-wide support.

―Improved asset utilisation.

―30% reduction in terms of congestion, emissions and energy consumption.

Delegation Exception Footnote:

The Coordination and Support Actions of this activity, directly aimed at supporting the development and implementation of evidence base for R&I policies and supporting various groups of stakeholders, are excluded from the delegation to the Innovation and Networks Executive Agency (INEA) and will be implemented by the Commission services.

Cross-cutting Priorities:

International cooperation
Socio-economic science and humanities

[1]Alliance for Logistics Innovation through Collaboration in Europe (


Topic conditions and documents

Please read carefully all provisions below before the preparation of your application.

  1. List of countries and applicable rules for funding: described in part A of the General Annexes of the General Work Programme.
    Note also that 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 part B and C of the General Annexes of the General Work Programme.

    Proposal page limits and layout: Please refer to Part B of the standard proposal template.

  3. Evaluation

    3.1  Evaluation criteria and procedure, scoring and threshold: described in part H of the General Annexes of the General Work Programme .

    3.2 Submission and evaluation process: Guide to the submission and evaluation process

  4. Indicative timetable for evaluation and grant agreement:

    Information on the outcome of single-stage evaluation: maximum 5 months from the deadline for submission.
    Signature of grant agreements: maximum 8 months from the deadline for submission.

    Information on the outcome of two-stage evaluation:
          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.
  1. Provisions, proposal templates and evaluation forms for the type(s) of action(s) under this topic:

    Research and Innovation Action:
    Specific provisions and funding rates
    Proposal templates are available after entering the submission tool below
    Standard evaluation form
    H2020 General MGA -Multi-Beneficiary
    Annotated Grant Agreement

    Coordination and Support Action:
    Specific provisions and funding rates
    Proposal templates are available after entering the submission tool below
    Standard evaluation form
    H2020 General MGA -Multi-Beneficiary
    Annotated Grant Agreement
  2. Additional provisions:

    Horizon 2020 budget flexibility

    Classified information

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

    Financial support to Third Parties – where a topic description foresees financial support to Third Parties, these provisions apply.

  3. 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.

    - 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.


  4. Additional documents:

Applicants can find introductory remarks to the activities of this respective area of the call in the text of the H2020 Work Programme 2016-17 for Societal Challenge "Smart, green and integrated transport" which can be accessed by clicking in the link above.

Additional documents

  • Flash Call Info MG 2017 2nd stage en
  • Flash Call Info MG 2017 2nd stage en
  • Flash Call Info MG 2017 2nd stage

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