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Horizon Europe: Driving Technological Innovation in Europe


An analysis of how Horizon Europe is fostering digital transformation in key sectors

Nowadays, digital technology has become a key driver of progress and global competition. Europe recognizes this fact and is leading the way towards a comprehensive digital transformation through Horizon Europe, the European Union’s signature program for research and innovation.

In this article we will analyze how Horizon Europe is fueling technological innovation by promoting digital transformation in key sectors such as health, agriculture, energy and industry.

Digital Transformation in Europe: A Strategic Focus

Digitalization involves the fusion of technologies in the business environment and their influence on society. Among the technologies that impact several sectors and people’s daily lives are digital platforms, the Internet of Things, cloud computing and artificial intelligence. This is why the European Commission has identified digital transformation as a strategic priority for economic growth, job creation and the well-being of European citizens. Horizon Europe plays a major role in funding research and innovation projects that drive the adoption of advanced digital technologies in diverse sectors.

Connected and Individualized Health

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In healthcare, Horizon Europe is stimulating the adoption of digital technology to create more connected and personalized systems. Horizon Europe-funded projects are developing innovative solutions, such as telemedicine, artificial intelligence applied to diagnosis and treatment, and the interoperability of electronic medical records. These technologies will improve the efficiency of healthcare services, optimizing treatments, and allowing patients to manage their health more independently.

For further information, in the video you can find the speech of Carlos III Health Institute presenting funding opportunities in the field of biomedicine and health in 2024- Horizon Europe

The health cluster aims to enhance population wellness through education, awareness, and the development of innovative solutions. Its goals include disease prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and curing diseases, alongside mitigating health risks and promoting equitable and sustainable health systems. Achieving these will involve leveraging digital health technologies and healthcare systems, among other strategies. The funded projects will contribute to reduce the burden of EU Non-Communicable Diseases, aligned with the Healthier Together initiative.

Smart and Sustainable Agriculture

In the agricultural sector, Horizon Europe is encouraging the adoption of more sustainable farming practices through digitization. Funded projects are developing data-driven solutions such as precision agriculture as WineGRover scheme, remote crop monitoring using drones (SPADE) and smart water management. These technologies are increasing agricultural efficiency and productivity, reducing environmental impact, and contributing to food safety.

The European project SPADE, where we participate as partners, aims to promote the creation of innovative solutions for agriculture by financing projects that address a variety of challenges, such as drone swarm communication, real-time data transfer, aerial mapping, forest area cartography and sensor integration for livestock tracking.

The Digital Agenda for Europe and the Agricultural Data Strategy aim to harness digital technology to address the challenges facing agriculture. They highlight the need to ensure equitable access to technology in rural areas to maximize its positive impact on agriculture.

Clean and Efficient Energy

In the energy sector, Horizon Europe is supporting the transition to cleaner, more efficient and sustainable energy through digitization. The following funded projects are developing innovative solutions, such as smart renewable energy management for self-consumption HY4RES, CEF Energy smart grids and advanced energy storage. These technologies are accelerating the adoption of renewable energy sources, reducing carbon emissions, and improving the competitiveness of the European energy industry.

Industry 4.0 and Advanced Manufacturing

In the industrial sector, Horizon Europe is driving the adoption of digital technologies and advanced manufacturing for Industry 4.0. Among solutions being developed are Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), process optimization, augmented reality in production or predictive maintenance. These technologies are enhancing efficiency, flexibility, and customization in industrial production, therefore boosting the global competitiveness of European companies. Industry 4.0 is framed within Horizon Europe’s Cluster 4: Digital, Industry and Space, one of the main cornerstones of the program. In HE 2024, research and innovation is encouraged in key areas such as industrial cybersecurity, smart manufacturing, and advanced automation, among others.

Since Artificial intelligence (AI) drives innovation, it has a crucial role in the manufacturing industry. The AI4EU project, closed in 2021, aims to democratize access to AI and accelerate its adoption in industry. Some examples of AI applications are process optimization, error detection and predictive maintenance.

Horizon Europe aims to support SMEs and start-ups in the affected by COVID-19, fostering sustainable transitions, where collaboration between humans and robots, is of vital importance. Indeed, The CoLLaboratE project, was a pioneer in enabling these workspaces.

Digging deeper into the world of manufacturing, these are some of the Horizon 2020 AI projects that have revolutionized the working environment as we know it today. Speaking of task-specific performance, IMAGINE focuses on e-waste recycling. Other complementary projects, such as HEPHAESTUS (robots made to build) and THOMAS (double arm buddy robot) present brand new industrial robotic systems, while ROBINS targets the certification of these systems in industrial environments. As for the study of AI-based tools for improving the efficiency of production processes through predictive maintenance, we find SERENA.

Conclusions

To conclude, Horizon Europe is playing a key role in promoting digital transformation accross Europe, driving technological innovation in health, agriculture, energy, and the manufacturing industry. Through funding R&I projects, the adoption of advanced digital technologies is being enabled, while enhancing economic competitiveness and contributing to the well-being of European citizens. In an increasingly digitized world, the UE’s key funding programme is leading Europe at the forefront of global technological innovation.