Research & Innovation - Participant Portal


TOPIC : Moving freight by Water: Sustainable Infrastructure and Innovative Vessels

Topic identifier: MG-2-6-2019
Publication date: 27 October 2017

Types of action: RIA Research and Innovation action
Opening date:
05 September 2018
2nd stage Deadline:
16 January 2019 17:00:00
12 September 2019 17:00:00

Time Zone : (Brussels time)
  Horizon 2020 H2020 website
Pillar: Societal Challenges
Work Programme Year: H2020-2018-2020
Topic Updates
  • 25 July 2018 00:01

    Please note that the description of topic MG-2-6-2019 has been updated further to the revised version of the H2020 Work Programme that has been published on 25 July 2018.

Topic Description
Specific Challenge:

Although it is a means of transport that can reduce transport CO2 and air polluting emissions and significantly contribute to reducing congestion on European roads waterborne transport around European coasts and on its inland waterways remains under-utilised and is not fully integrated in the multimodal European Transport system. Both technical and administrative requirements hinder the take up of Intra-European waterborne transport. Improvements are needed concerning: efficient and seamless integration between transport modes and last mile connection, inland waterway bottlenecks, capacity of small ports, loading times, efficiency of transferring cargo between modes, cost effectiveness of partial cargo loads, environmental impacts and the feasibility of mixed passenger/freight services. There is a need to stimulate the modernization of intra-European waterborne transport as well as waterborne transport with neighbouring countries, particularly in the case of the outermost regions by fostering automation and digitisation so as to enable their more efficient and reliable participation in the whole supply chain, to reduce environmental impacts such as noise and to respond to changing freight flows and supporting full implementation of synchromodality within inland waterways.


Proposals should focus either on area a) inland waterways or on area b) maritime transport. Proposals should clearly indicate which area they are covering.

To tackle this challenge, proposals should address the first bullet point (if they focus on the Maritime transport area), or the fourth bullet point (if they focus on the Inland Waterway Transport area), and in total at least five bullet points set out below:

• With a focus on the TEN-T network, develop to at least TRL5 one or more innovative inland waterway or short sea transport solutions incorporating innovative vessels which can operate more effectively within intermodal logistic chains with limited and affordable improvements to existing infrastructure. For example, solutions may combine freight with passenger services or ship to ship transfers so as to improve the cost effective feeding of freight from large to small inland ports. The role of smaller coastal ports, inland waterways and their urban waterfront, including those located in the outermost regions, should not be neglected as a means to exploit their high potential to contribute to innovative mobility solutions and last mile freight delivery.

• Solutions should address the entire business model including connectivity IT infrastructure and integration with other transport modes.

• Automated and connected inland waterway and/or port infrastructure should be addressed to enable more efficient operations. As appropriate, smart systems and automation should consider the automation of bridges, locks and dams, cargo handling and units, docking systems and shore side power. Digitisation, for example, EGNOS/Galileo services should facilitate efficient cross-border traffic and cargo information and ensure multi-modal interconnectivity and integration. The High Precision and Authenticated Positioning services of Galileo should be taken into account in optimizing the port operations.

• Proposals addressing inland waterways, should address solutions for infrastructure maintenance and operation that increase the network resilience as well as long-term reliable navigability forecast, and should ensure compatibility with existing and emerging harmonised cross border and intermodal traffic management systems.

• Environmental performance must be significantly improved compared to the current state of the art with regard to local air quality, noise, energy efficiency and risk of pollution. An environmental impact assessment and safety assessment of the developed solution in comparison to alternative forms of transport should be undertaken.

• Concepts should be proven, a cost-benefit analysis undertaken and experimental validation and demonstration should be undertaken where feasible.

• Dissemination, engagement and cooperation with logistics, shippers and intermodal transport operators are encouraged.

• Business cases should be developed for key routes including comparison with existing transport solutions.

• Recommendations should be made for optimising the conditions for intermodal solutions incorporating waterborne freight transport, including over shorter distances.

• Outcomes should be developed to a level which would be potentially suitable for deployment possibly with the support of CEF TEN-T, EIB loan, ESIF or other programme.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU between EUR 5 and 10 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:

Decongest road and/or city infrastructure. Reduce the CO2 and air pollutant emissions of intra-European freight transport. Enhance the performance of the CEF TEN-T network. Substantially increase the amount of freight fed from intercontinental European ports using waterborne transport. Modernise, increase the reliability and competitiveness of Intra European Waterborne transport. Proposal should demonstrate that the deployment of solutions can increase the quantity of freight moved by Inland Waterways or Short Sea Shipping by at least 10% by 2030 compared to 2010 baseline data.

Cross-cutting Priorities:

Socio-economic science and humanities
Blue Growth

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.

Grants will be awarded to proposals according to the ranking list. However, in order to ensure a balanced portfolio of supported actions, at least the highest-ranked proposal in the area of a) Inland Waterways and b) Maritime Transport will be funded provided that it attains all thresholds.

4. Indicative time for evaluation and grant agreements:    

Information on the outcome of evaluation (two-stage call):
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.


5. Proposal templates, evaluation forms and model grant agreements (MGA):

Research and Innovation 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.

8. Additional documents:

1. Introduction WP 2018-20       
11. Smart, green and integrated transport 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.


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No submission system is open for this topic.

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