Why? • Objectives

From providing digital access to physically inaccessible sites to preserving priceless artefacts, research and innovation (R&I) can nurture smart and technologically advanced solutions to the challenges Europe is facing in trying to protect its cultural heritage.

The Year is an opportunity to showcase and intensify investments that the EU has made in the development of European expertise in this field, through the EU Research and Innovation programme Horizon 2020 and the Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC).

For whom? • Target groups

Researchers, innovators, academics, cultural heritage professionals and experts, public authorities.

What? • Content of the initiative

The initiative has two main components:



This European initiative is showcasing best examples of EU-funded scientific research. From 2014 to 2020, the EU research funding programme Horizon 2020 is expected to invest €500 million on cultural heritage. A Commission (DG RTD) Policy Review entitled ‘Innovation in Cultural Heritage Research’ was published in March at the occasion of the Year. Following a mapping exercise, the Policy Review makes suggestions designed to improve the European research framework after 2020.

The Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) has also developed a number of innovative tools designed to benefit the cultural heritage sector. These include:

• Testing the use of smart materials on historic masonry structures to improve their seismic resistance and allowing post-earthquake structural assessment.

• 3D laser scanning technology used for damage assessment and reconstruction planning of historical buildings. 

In 2018 and beyond, several new actions will be launched under Horizon 2020. These include:

• Allocation of €18 million for research and development into cost-effective technologies to increase resilience or reconstruct damaged historic areas after disasters, while fully respecting their historic value. These projects will also provide local authorities with guidelines for reconstruction, how to involve local communities, as well as new governance and finance models.

• Research on ‘Inclusive and sustainable growth through cultural and creative industries and the arts’ will have an overall budget of €7.5 million. The objective is to provide scientific evidence for designing a more coherent European industrial policy for Cultural and Creative Industries. In addition, €10 million has been earmarked for the research topic ‘Curation of digital assets and advanced digitisation’.

• Research on ‘Digitisation, Digital Single Market and European culture: new challenges for creativity, intellectual property rights and copyright’ will cover essential elements for the development of cultural and creative industries, with a budget of €9 million.

• 2018 will also see the final stages of preparation of new research projects to start in 2019 on ‘Innovative approaches to urban and regional development through cultural tourism’ (€9 million), ‘The societal value of culture and the impact of cultural policies in Europe’ (€9 million), and on ‘Collaborative approaches to cultural heritage for social cohesion’ (€12 million).


• 20 March 2018
European Commission High Level Conference on Innovation and Cultural Heritage, Brussels, Belgium.
Presentation of the Policy Review



In 2018, two research communities will be established by Horizon 2020: a Community of Innovators on Cultural Heritage and the EU R&I Ambassadors on Cultural Heritage. These communities will each gather around 300 universities, research centres, municipalities, industries and SMEs, cultural heritage organisations and practitioners to promote the uptake of successful R&I results and encourage international cooperation in the field. A ‘Social platform on endangered cultural heritage and on illicit trafficking of cultural goods’ will be created (see factsheet n°7).


• October 2018
Launch event of all new Horizon 2020 research projects on Cultural Heritage in Brussels, Belgium
• November 2018
Start of the Network to promote heritage-led innovation and diplomacy
• 15-16 November 2018
‘Fair of EU Innovators’ and ‘Cultural Heritage Alive’ Commission conference in close collaboration with the Community of Innovators on Cultural Heritage in Brussels, Belgium


• Within the Commission, services dealing with research and innovation, education, culture, and the Joint Research Centre
• European universities

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