Research and innovation to drive the transformation

Becoming the world’s first climate-neutral continent by 2050 is a once in a lifetime opportunity to modernise the EU’s economy and society and re-orient them towards a just and sustainable future.

Research and innovation will play a central role in

  • accelerating and navigating the necessary transitions
  • deploying, demonstrating and de-risking solutions
  • engaging citizens in social innovation

Europe’s green research and innovation investments

Horizon Europe is the EU's next research and innovation programme starting in 2021. 

Its powerful instruments and innovative governance will drive the necessary systemic changes to reach climate neutrality and ensure an inclusive ecological and economic transition.

Horizon Europe, in synergy with other EU programmes, will be key to leveraging national public and private investment. Together they will foster new technologies, sustainable solutions and disruptive innovation and spread successful new solutions across Europe and the world.

Over 35% of Horizon Europe spending will contribute to climate objectives.

Green partnerships

There will be a new wave of research and innovation partnerships under Horizon Europe.

Partnerships will help drive the huge transformations in environment, society and the economy that the European Green Deal calls for.

The EU will work closely with industry and countries to support partnerships in critical areas such as transport - including batteries - clean hydrogen, low-carbon steel, circular biobased sectors, the built environment and biodiversity.

Green missions

The missions in Horizon Europe will mobilise research and innovation, catalyse action, deliver impact, demonstrate solutions, and produce European public goods.
At the same time, they aim to capture citizens' imagination and inspire confidence in the transformations ahead.
Four out of the five agreed mission areas in Horizon Europe directly support the European Green Deal

  • Healthy oceans, seas, coastal and inland waters
  • Climate-neutral and smart cities
  • Soil health and food
  • Adaptation to climate change and societal transformation

Green research and innovation rules

To deliver on the European Green Deal, a careful assessment, analysis and design of existing and future legislation is necessary. At the same time, it is important to leave room for new and out-of-the-box ideas to reach a sustainable future more quickly and more effectively.

The Innovation Principle approach can be a useful tool in this regard.

Successful projects

EU-funded research projects are already producing results that will help deliver the European Green Deal.

Some examples

  • BAMB supports the circular economy with low-emission building design and component re-use
  • AMBER is helping restore local river ecosystems
  • REFRESH is using insights from behavioural science to cut food waste
  • MUSICA is decarbonising small islands' electricity production using renewables
  • FIRST2RUN is showing how underused crops can be converted into bioproducts, animal feed and energy
  • SPARCs works with cities to smooth the transition to a citizen-centred, zero-carbon, resource-efficient economy
  • DownToTen is improving measurement of nanoparticles to support future emissions regulation
  • E-FERRY is a 100% electric ferry, powered only by batteries
  • LACTIPS makes water-soluble plastic packaging from milk by-products
  • BIOSKOH is producing low-emission bioethanol cheaply on brownfield sites

Find more successful green research projects