Leverage the digital transition for competitive European cultural and creative industries

  • Action type: HORIZON-IA HORIZON Innovation Actions
  • Opening date: 4 October 2023
  • Closing time: 7 February 2024 17:00 (Europe/Brussels)
  • Budget per project: € 4 000 000 of total € 13 000 000
  • Estimated number of projects funded: 3
  • Official website


Projects should contribute to all of the following expected outcomes:

  • Validated and refined measures to increase the use of innovative digital technologies by Europe’s cultural and creative industries (CCIs)[1], with a view to increased competitiveness and sustainability[2].
  • Significant contributions to strengthen the ability of European CCIs to contribute to a human-centred digital transition.

The cultural and creative industries (CCIs) are an important source of growth and job creation in the European economy. Moreover, the CCIs play a key role in shaping culture, values and perceptions across the European Union and beyond.

At the same time, the CCIs are characterised by a large and diverse number of chiefly small and micro enterprises, as well as by hefty differences across geographical and sectorial divides.

The ongoing digital transition brings great opportunities for the CCIs, but also serious threats. The measures taken during the Covid-19 pandemic to reduce contagion forced much human interaction into the digital realm, to a degree illustrating possible consequences of the digital transition. Large parts of the European CCIs were devastated[3].

To take full advantage of the many opportunities offered by the digital transition, and avoid the pitfalls, require capacities and competencies that many of Europe’s CCIs currently lack.

Proposals should provide for devising effective and cost-efficient measures to support CCIs to embrace and make full use of digital technologies for competitiveness and sustainability.

Proposals should choose a suitable set of CCI sector(s), or/and cross-sectoral issues, to focus on, which allow significant impacts to be achieved. A wide array of digital technologies should be considered, which are deemed crucial to the CCI sector(s) or/and issues chosen. Analytical technologies such as “big data” or “artificial intelligence” could be used for instance to better understand users’ behaviours, to better plan activities or/and to engage deeper with customers. Visualisation and multi-sensorial technologies such as “virtual reality”, “augmented reality” or “extended reality” could be employed to create more attractive products and services.

The proposed support measures should be effective and efficient across different Member States/Associated Countries, and address the needs of small, micro as well as larger companies. Such measures may involve the use of platforms or networks to facilitate sharing investments, facilities or competencies among several companies or across sectors.

Funded proposals should set up at least four small scale pilot trials under real world conditions to test and refine the proposed support measures. To ensure validity of the results across different national contexts and company sizes, the pilot trials need to involve at least four different Member States/Associated Countries, as well as CCI companies of different size. A wide set of stakeholders should be involved, in accordance with the focus chosen, with a view to ensure that pilot trials are developed in an effective and realistic manner and that results can readily be taken up by relevant policymakers or/and other decision-makers.

Proposals should build on existing knowledge, activities, networks and platforms, notably the ones funded by the European Union. Furthermore, links should be established and synergies sought with closely related actions, such as relevant R&I actions funded by Horizon Europe or Horizon 2020. In particular, proposals should, if appropriate, seek collaboration with projects funded under the “European Cloud for Cultural Heritage” call in the frame of Horizon Europe Cluster 2.


This destination adopts a people-centred perspective and places cultural heritage and the cultural and creative industries at the very heart of the European economy and its sustainable development. European R&I activities under this destination will support and strengthen European cultural heritage and cultural and creative industries essentially under three areas:

Green: Europe’s cultural heritage and its cultural and creative industries need to share their responsibilities for adapting to the consequences of climate change, and mobilise their resources to support European citizens and societies for an inclusive, socially and culturally sustainable climate transition. A participatory approach to European cultural heritage and digital transformations in the preservation of tangible and intangible heritage will guide new endeavours.

R&I actions will focus on, for example, supporting the cultural and creative industries to turn the challenges of the climate transition into opportunities, and become drivers of an inclusive societal transition. R&I actions will foment the development of new environmentally friendly technologies and methods to manage, restore and preserve cultural heritage, with a view to making Europe a world leader in sustainable management of cultural heritage. R&I will also strengthen our capacity to manage anthropogenic threats. Support to the New European Bauhaus initiative is part of this area, integrating the core New European Bauhaus values of sustainability, inclusion and aesthetics.

Digital: The digital transition promises enormous opportunities for Europe’s cultural heritage and cultural and creative industries, but also serious challenges. It is important to ensure that, through the digitisation, EU citizens benefit from cultural heritage and be enabled to contribute to its enrichment. Digitisation should also provide new training opportunities on creative industries for young citizens in less populated areas.

R&I actions will focus on, for example, innovative approaches to empower the cultural and creative industries, including its many micro enterprises, to reap the benefits of using digital technologies, creating more appealing and valuable products, services and experiences for its users. R&I actions will deepen our knowledge on what, how and why digitised and digital cultural heritage may be exploited, reaping the benefits while avoiding the many pitfalls, and creating societal value. Collaborative platforms for cultural heritage and cultural and creative industries will be supported. A dedicated call, namely HORIZON-CL2-2023-HERITAGE-ECCCH-01, will support the establishment of a digital European cultural heritage collaborative space, including a cloud platform for European cultural heritage institutions. Such platforms will strengthen the collaboration and co-creation among cultural heritage institutions and with other stakeholders in the cultural heritage domain, widen access for citizens and strengthen research. Please consider below some key characteristics and specific conditions of the call. Also, cooperation between different actors within the cultural and creative industries and between the CCIs and other economic sectors and industries will be strengthened, creating new market opportunities for CCI stakeholders.

Innovative: To an ever greater degree, creative and cultural aspects drive socio-ecological innovation, participatory democratic processes and economic growth. Successful new digital and physical products and services need to be appealing and attractive, adapted to cultural particularities. Similarly, societal transformations such as the green and digital transitions depend on behavioural changes, which are largely based on changes in lifestyle, culture and perceptions. In such processes, the human is at the centre, and cultural heritage, the arts and the cultural and creative industries are key.

R&I actions will cover a variety of subjects, such as strengthening the innovation capacity of the cultural and creative industries, and their capability to act as innovation engines. Actions will focus both on cultural heritage and cultural and creative industries holistically, as an innovation ecosystem, and on specific CCI sectors such as music, filmmaking and video games. Actions will also foment innovation in cultural tourism, as well as explore innovative connections between cultural expressions and democracy and politics. Actions will also support the development of new innovative technologies and methods to restore, preserve and manage cultural heritage, as well as re-inforce the role of Europe’s cultural heritage in promoting European values among EU citizens and abroad.

The innovation ecosystems created and nurtured by the Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs) of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), in particular the KIC “EIT Culture and Creativity”, may contribute to innovation actions under this destination, and should as appropriate be considered.

In line with the Commission priorities, R&I actions under this Destination will help promote the European way of life, contribute to achieving the Green Deal goals and support an economy that works for people. They will contribute to the New European Bauhaus[[ The New European Bauhaus initiative was launched by European Commission President von der Leyen in her State of the European Union speech autumn 2020. More information here: https://europa.eu/new-european-bauhaus/index_en]] initiative, to reaching the UN Sustainable Development Goals and to building a stronger, more participatory and crisis-resilient society and economy. They will support the realisation of the full potential of cultural heritage, arts and cultural and creative industries as drivers of sustainable innovation and a European sense of belonging.

The topics under the call HORIZON-CL2-2023-HERITAGE-ECCCH-01 aim at supporting the establishment of a digital European cultural heritage collaborative space, including a cloud platform, and contribute to the vision and objectives of the Commission[[ Recommendation (EU) 2021/1970 of 10 Nov 2021 on a common European Data Space for Cultural Heritage.]]. For the purpose of this call, the collaborative space will be referred to as the “European Collaborative Cloud for Cultural Heritage” (ECCCH).

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