Cultural Heritage

Policies, publications and funding details to support preserving Europe's cultural heritage

Horizon 2020

The EU has supported research and innovation in cultural heritage in its various forms -  tangible, intangible and digital - through its framework programmes since 1986.

Cultural heritage R&I is represented in all pillars of Horizon 2020: 

  • Excellent Science: Research infrastructures, Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions and European Research Council grants
  • Industrial Leadership: Leadership in enabling and industrial technologies
  • Societal Challenges: n. 5 'Climate action, environment, resource efficiency and raw materials' and n.6 'Europe in a changing world - Inclusive, innovative and reflective societies'

So far, the EU has invested over €300 million through Horizon 2020 in research and innovation in cultural heritage, and at least €200 million more will be invested between 2018-2020.

Heritage Alive

New orientations for EU research and innovation

Cultural heritage is a non-renewable, irreplaceable resource and a common good, but is frequently under threat from environmental challenges and climate change, disaster risks, neglect, decay and under-funding. It can play a crucial and catalytic role in well-being, cultural diversity, sustainable development and social cohesion.

Horizon 2020 helps leverage the innovation potential of cultural heritage to protect and preserve it and at the same time enhance socio-economic opportunities. This new approach sees cultural heritage as a strategic resource for the society of the future and the economy, rather than a passive stock, as highlighted in the Horizon 2020 expert group report 'Getting cultural heritage to work for Europe' (2015).

The 'Heritage Alive' orientations promote:

Cultural heritage as a driver for sustainable growth in urban and rural areas, by leveraging investments in urban areas, promoting adaptive reuse of the historic built stock and systemic heritage-led strategies for rural regeneration. Under the Horizon 2020 Societal Challenge, €5.3 million has been invested in projects to regenerate cities and rural areas, currently involving more than 50 cities and regions across Europe. Following on this line, €25 million will be invested in 2019 in projects intended to transform historic urban areas or cultural landscapes into hubs of entrepreneurship and social and cultural integration. (ROCK projectCLIC project, RURITAGE projectOpenHeritage project)

Mitigating the impacts of climate change and natural hazards on cultural heritage, by strengthening the resilience of sites and communities and promoting sustainable reconstruction models. In 2018, Horizon 2020 continues to invest in this vein: €18 million has been allocated for 'Increased resilience and sustainable reconstruction of historic areas to cope with climate change and hazard events'. (Cordis Results Pack - Heritage at Risk: EU research and innovation for a more resilient cultural heritage) (STORM project, HERACLES project)

Energy efficiency strategies and solutions for the renovation of historic buildings, through insulation strategies and improved building energetic analysis. (RIBuild project)(PPP EeB)

International networks for cultural heritage innovation and inter-cultural diplomacy, building a genuine community of innovators in cultural heritage. In 2018, €3 million has been allocated to support the creation of an international network to promote cultural heritage innovation and diplomacy. The network will operate for three years starting in November 2018. (ILUCIDARE project)

The current orientation is in line with the Commission policy agenda and contributes to the 10 initiatives of the 2018 European Year of Cultural Heritage, the 2014 Commission communication 'Towards an integrated approach to cultural heritage for Europe' and builds on FP7 experience and results.

To discover more on the EU research and innovation most innovative project results for cultural heritage, have a look at the report ‘Innovative solutions for Cultural Heritage’.

Task Force on ‘Financing and business models for the re-use of built heritage in cites to circular economy models’

Launched by the Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (EASME) and promoted by the Horizon 2020 project CLIC, will provide expertise and advice on linking financing and business models for the re-use of built heritage in cites to circular economy models. Members of the Task Force include several EU-funded research and innovation projects, UN agencies, international funding agencies and relevant stakeholders in the field of cultural heritage, sustainable urban regeneration and circular economy.

‘European Framework for Action on Cultural Heritage’

The Action plan aims to set a common direction for heritage-related activities at European level, primarily in EU policies and programmes. It can also serve as an inspiration for regions and cities in Europe, as well as for cultural heritage organisations and networks when developing their own actions on cultural heritage. Within the strategic objectives for cultural heritage for a sustainable Europe a special attention is given to: regenerating cities and regions through cultural heritage; promoting adaptive re-use of heritage buildings; and balancing cultural heritage with sustainable cultural tourism and natural heritage.

Community of innovators in cultural heritage

Launched during the ‘Fair of European Innovators in Cultural Heritage’ on 15 November 2018 in Brussels, the Community is a policy initiative that will help to disseminate R&I results, create new synergies among key stakeholders and bridge the gap between research, market and society. The Community of Innovators in Cultural Heritage provided with a web-platform, aiming at connecting three main 'worlds':

  1. innovation producers (i.e. researchers, start-ups, social-innovators etc.)
  2. innovation supporters (i.e. investors, businesses, incubators, foundations etc.)
  3. innovation users (i.e. municipalities, public bodies, cultural institutions)

The initiative is empowered by the H2020 Marina and ROCK projects, which have established an innovative web-platform called 'Innovators in Cultural Heritage'. The platform is open to all innovators, researchers, practitioners, 'change-makers', entrepreneurs and 'end-users' of innovations, products and services to visit, register, share and to 'populate' with updates, news and events. Virtual meetings, discussion rooms a market-place will foster creation of new synergies between users.

The platform is able to federate existing communities as well as register individual members under a common virtual environment where discussion and knowledge-sharing is fostered.

Four sub-communities have already been created:

  • ‘Circular, sustainable and creative cities’
  • ‘Heritage at risk’
  • ‘Shared management of cultural heritage’
  • ‘Advanced future technologies for heritage and arts’

New communities will be established in the future as well.