Science comes to town (HORIZON-WIDERA-2024-ERA-02-02)

  • Action type: HORIZON-CSA HORIZON Coordination and Support Actions
  • Opening date: 15 May 2024
  • Closing time: 25 September 2024 17:00 (Europe/Brussels)
  • Budget per project: € 6 000 000 of total € 6 000 000
  • Estimated number of projects funded: 1
  • Official website


Part of the ambition of the new European Research Area is to increase societal responsibility, trust and commitment in science and innovation by engaging stakeholders, local communities and citizens in the design and implementation of R&I policies and by enhancing science communication activities. This action provides a unique opportunity to cities in Member States and Associated Countries to take centre stage in implementing this vision. It allows them to bring together their citizens and R&I communities to showcase the contribution of science in addressing the needs of citizens and its contribution to improving the wellbeing of citizens on a sustainable planet together with economic prosperity. The call topic invites a small group of cities to jointly design and implement a vibrant and engaging year-long programme of activities under the label “Science comes to town 2026” with impact at local, regional and European level. The programme should connect local R&I communities with a broad group of stakeholders and, most importantly, citizens around the topic of science and its role in society.

Project results are expected to contribute to all of the following expected outcomes:

  • A year-long programme of diverse events and activities with a robust concept and brand, jointly developed and organised by a group of cities, promoting R&I in Europe and fostering dialogue and exchange on science and its role in society.
  • Improved communication of science to the public through regular activities showcasing the latest developments and results in R&I and their relevance to citizens and their lives, and through experimentation with innovative ways of connecting citizens and scientists, involving different age and social groups at local, regional and European level.
  • Enhanced discussion and debate on the future of science and R&I policy in Europe, with emphasis on inclusive and participatory approaches, involving all relevant stakeholders within and outside the EU (e.g., researchers, research funders, policy-makers, publishers, citizens, civil society organisations).
  • Improved appeal of younger generations to careers in R&I (in academia, industry or starting own business) through organising European-wide science competitions, including the European Union Contest for Young Scientists (EUCYS) and the European Union Contest for early-career researchers (EU TalentOn), as well as other similar initiatives.

Scope:The new European Research Area (ERA) has the engagement of citizens, local communities and civil society at its core, seeking greater societal impact and increased trust in science. This action supports ERA Policy Agenda (2022-2024) action 14 – ‘Bring science closer to citizens’ through broad and inclusive engagement of all relevant stakeholders in a range of activities with a view to increasing the understanding, acceptance, uptake and impact of R&I in society.

The action supports a consortium involving cities to host a coordinated joint 1-year programme with focus on connecting citizens and scientists in the participating cities and beyond, including the following:

  • A year-long programme of various events and activities, such as lectures, workshops, exhibitions, competitions or prizes, in the spirit of the European Capital of Culture or the European Green Capital, that highlights the contribution of science to society and the results of R&I projects supported by national/regional/EU funds, including the Horizon Europe programme.

In addition, the programme of activities must include the following two components:

  • EUCYS 2026, the European Union Contest for Young Scientists, an annual science competition for 14- to 20-year-olds that brings together first prize winners of national science contests for pre-Higher Education Institution school science projects to compete for prizes and awards. The contestants are judged by a jury of eminent scientists selected by the European Commission. The jury award 1st, 2nd and 3rd monetary prizes as well as other prestigious prizes donated to the contest by international research organisations and other similar bodies. The EU Contest takes place each year in a different location. The organisation of the contest is based on the General Guidelines on the organisation of the European Union Contest for Young Scientists and its Annex 1 – Rules of the contest. These are updated annually by the European Commission[1]. The participating city that the proposal designates as host for EUCYS 2026 must provide as part of the proposal the commitment from its respective National EUCYS Organiser to run the 2026 competition as part of the project.
  • EU TalentOn 2026, the European Union Contest for Early Career Researchers, is a biennial science competition for 21- to 35-year-olds that brings together at least 100 early-career researchers to work on scientific solutions to societal challenges[2]. The objective is to promote careers in research, facilitate cross-border and cross-sectoral collaboration among early-career researchers, and to promote entrepreneurship and opportunities in academia and industry. The researchers are divided into small teams, which should be gender-balanced and be as much as possible geographically and socially inclusive, to compete for prizes and awards. The teams are mentored by experts from academia, industry and SMEs. Specific challenges are determined through a consultation with stakeholders in the field and are based on broader policy priorities.

The programmed activities should target a wide population of European citizens with impact at local, regional and European level, and involve participants of different ages and across social groups and actors (students, researchers, citizens, policymakers, business and third sector organisations).

Proposals should develop and test the overall concept and brand of “Science comes to town” with a view to future editions. Proposals are invited to experiment with new interactive and engaging formats across the programmed activities. In this context, special emphasis is placed on exploring and supporting citizen science as an important dimension of open science and as a way to promote science education and various forms of public engagement with science. The programme should take place in the participating cities, but proposers are encouraged to design and implement outreach activities that reach communities beyond the ones in the cities directly participating. Wherever possible, synergies should be sought with the European Researchers’ Night, Europe’s largest science communication and promotion event which brings together over 1,5 million visitors across Europe every year; as well as the Researchers at School initiative, both funded under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions[3].

The programme of activities must take place in at least 3 cities of 3 different Members States and/or Associated Countries, with the majority being in Member States. The consortium can comprise different types of legal entities that can represent the host cities and/or join them in designing and implementing the activities. Applicants must provide with their proposal commitment letters from the public authorities of the selected cities (city council or similar). The inclusion of local partners that provide the link to science, research and innovation is strongly encouraged.

Applicants must submit as part of their proposal the overall concept for the annual programme of activities, including the vision for content (focus and scope of activities), outreach strategy, and contribution to long-term vision for the cities. The concept has to distinguish between:

a) events, including EUCYS and TalentOn, that will be funded partially or fully by the Union contribution;

b) activities, such as the overall coordination and communication activities, that will be funded partially or fully by the Union contribution;

c) activities and events that will be financed by the participating cities; sponsorship and other resources (activities not funded by the Union contribution).

The consortium has to quantify in their proposal their commitment to mobilise substantial resources beyond the Union contribution. Monetary or in-kind sponsorships are encouraged to support and broaden the programmed activities, and further increase the impact of the action. Already established activities of the participating cities and other partners are encouraged to be included in the programme, but are excluded from funding under this action. The consortium has to report on the implementation of the activities and events not financed by the Union contribution, but not the related costs.

If participating cities wish to further expand the collaboration by engaging with other cities, e.g., with satellite events, they can consider to include them as partners without declaring costs in order to limit the administrative effort for them.

Priority activity for the successful applicants will be to co-design the detailed draft programme of activities. This will be a deliverable, due not later than 3 months before the formal launch of the “Science comes to town 2026”, subject to the approval of the Granting Authority.

This action allows for the provision of financial support to third parties in the form of prizes to the total amount of:

  • EU TalentOn: €80,000
  • EUCYS: €70 000

The amount awarded to individuals must not exceed €60 000.

The expected duration of the project is between 24 and 30 months.





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