Digital Technologies, Industry and Space were the focus of EKT's Horizon Europe event

Representatives from business, research, academic and public administration were informed about the new calls recently announced for Cluster 4 of Horizon Europe.

The online event 'Funding & Networking Opportunities for Digital Technologies, Industry and Space in Horizon Europe' was held with great success and participation on Monday 19 July 2021. Speakers included representatives from the European Commission, national representatives, experts, representatives of business sector, research organisations and EKT, which is the National Contact Point for Cluster 4 (Digital, Industry, Space) in Horizon Europe.

The event was organised by the National Documentation Centre (EKT), National Contact Point for Cluster 4, in collaboration with the General Secretariat for Research and Innovation (GSRI) and the European Commission's Directorate-General for Communication Networks (Content and Technology) DG CNECT), Directorate-General for Research and Innovation (DG RTD) and Directorate-General for Defence, Industry and Space (DG DEFIS).

The event livestreamed on EKT's YouTube channel, was attended by more than 450 representatives from the business, research and academic community, public bodies and other organisations. Participants were not only updated on the new calls recently announced for Digital Technology, Industry and Space (Cluster 4) but also on funding and networking opportunities. Success stories were shared and participants posed questions directly to European Commission representatives. 

The event was introduced by the Director of EKT, Dr. Evi Sachini, who referred to the organisation's role as a National Contact Point for Horizon Europe's Cluster 4, which complements all the organisation's activities that focus on research, innovation and digital transformation. She placed special emphasis on digital transformation, which is not only a key pillar of Greece's recovery plan but also a central strategic priority of the EU, and is expected to create new conditions for the country while helping to meet a number of challenges. She did not fail to mention EKT's many years of experience as National Contact Point for previous EU programmes, co-ordinator of Enterprise Europe Network-Hellas, National Statistical Authority and the services it offers businesses and research and academic organisations.

In his welcoming speech, Dr. Christos Dimas, Deputy Minister of Research & Technology,  referred to Cluster 4 as the driving force that, along with the tools of the state, will further strengthen the country's innovative activity. Greece, he said, is among the 5 countries with the greatest improvement in innovation performance, according to the European Innovation Scoreboard, published by the European Commission in June 2021. However, several steps at the country level are still needed, he stressed, to reach the desired EU average and Horizon Europe creates prospects in this direction.

The event continued with representatives of the European Commission who presented the three topic areas in the first working programme (2021-2022) of Horizon Europe's Cluster 4. Dr. Matthieu Delescluse, Deputy Head of Unit DG CNECT of the EU, talked about Digital Technologies, Dr. Nicholas Deliyanakis, Policy Officer DG RTD of the EU, Industry and Francesco Barbato from the DG DEFIS section of the EU, Space. Emphasis was placed on current funding announcements, modifications to the previous programming period, and Key Strategic Orientations and Impacts of each sub-theme (Digital, Industry, Space). Finally, the relationships between Cluster 4 calls and the various Partnerships were clarified (eg 'institutionalised' collaborations such as EIT Health, collaborations with Member States such as those in Joint Undertakings, etc.).

This was followed by the positions of the National Representatives for Cluster 4 (Digital, Industry, Space) in Horizon Europe. Dr. Mara Chachamidou and Vassilis Gongolidis, National Representatives from the General Secretariat for Research and Innovation presented the role of Greece in Horizon Europe, the country's participation in the previous programming period (Horizon 2020) and its very good performance, stressing the need for good partnerships within Horizon Europe.

In the 4th industrial revolution, the smart factory and smart manufacturing make use of Artificial Intelligence. Dr. I. Theodorakopoulos, Exports Sales Manager at the Greek company Gizelis Robotics, explained how, by using new technologies and the tools it offers, his company has become successful in the field of Digital Technologies.

Dr. Nikos Sergis, CEO at the Hellenic Space Centre and research associate at the Office of Space Research and Technology of the Academy of Athens, presented the Greek Space Ecosystem, with about 50 companies and 3,000 employees, which has made huge strides in the last 3 years, with small satellites spearheading development. He referred to the goals of the Hellenic Space Centre as well as to the mission to Saturn, Cassini-Huygens, in which he participated and for which he was awarded by NASA. The space sector in Greece, underlined Dr. Ν. Sergis, is robust and continues to grow.

The positive correlation between innovations, in particular patents, labour productivity and market share in the Digital Technologies sector, and the results of relevant research was presented by Dimitris Exadaktylos, PhD Candidate at the IMT School for Advanced Studies Lucca.

During the next phase of the event, EKT's services as a National Contact Point to support Research & Innovation were explained. Angelos Angelidis, National Contact Point for Digital Technologies in Horizon Europe and Head of the Innovation and Networking Department of EKT, presented Enterprise Europe Network-Hellas, the largest Greek business support network. EKT is the co-ordinator of the network, supporting innovative and outward-oriented Greek companies to gain access to new markets and funding, exploiting their research results and technologies / products. The services it offers include international business, technology and research collaborations, knowledge exchange, technology transfer, participation in business missions and brokerage events.The role of EKT as co-ordinator of Enterprise Europe Network Hellas, stressed Mr. A. Angelidis, supports and complements the services of the organisation as National Contact Point in the Horizon Europe.

EKT's initiative 'Knowledge and Partnership Bridges', its redesigned digital platform, and its potential use within Horizon Europe, was presented by Nikos Maniadakis, Innovation Consultant and National Contact Point in the field of Industry. The initiative, pointed out N. Maniadakis, seeks to make use of the knowledge and know-how of Greeks operating abroad, and their connection with Greece.The new upgraded digital platform of the initiative is designed to provide value-added services for its members and can be a tool for spurring stakeholders into action and enhancing the exploitation of Cluster 4 and Horizon Europe in general.

Varbara Vasilaki, Innovation Consultant and National Contact Point for Industry in Horizon Europe, presented the transition to a cyclical and smart economy and the new productive model, in line with the EU's strategic priorities and policies. V. Vasilaki highlighted the strategic plan for Horizon Europe, with the aim of transforming Europe into the first cyclical, climate-neutral and sustainable economy based on digital technologies, creating a more resilient, open and democratic society.

Particularly successful projects in the field of Space, networking opportunities, and basic statistics on Greek participation in the previous Horizon 2020 programme were presented by Thanasis Haremis, Innovation Consultant and National Contact Point for Space in Horizon Europe. Under Horizon 2020, Greece ranked 8th among EU countries and the United Kingdom in terms of funding, and 6th in the number of projects co-ordinated by Greek agencies. The country's leading position in the space market  demonstrates the strong research and business ecosystem of the country in a market that is expected to experience significant growth rates in the next two decades. He also presented tips and practices for the successful participation in the calls for Space in Horizon Europe.

Throughout the event, the audience were able to ask the speakers live questions, which were answered at the end of the presentations. The event was co-ordinated by George Megas, main National Contact Point for Cluster 4, who stressed the need for synergies in the field of research and innovation, synergies like those we see in the excellent co-operation between 3 EU Secretariats for the smooth co-ordination of the extensive elements of Cluster 4, or the global synergies that made space and cosmological missions and projects like Cassini and the Event Horizon telescope that gave us the image of the first black hole (funded by European Research Council) possible. He also referred to the need to promote research and its results in society through appropriate communication actions and public participation (Co-Creation) and the need for open doors to new entrants to the field.

Watch all the presentations here, or watch the whole event here (video).

Watch the video of the event.

The Cluster 'Digital Technologies, Industry and Space'

Horizon Europe(Cluster 4) 'Digital Technologies, Industry and Space' is one of the Pillar II sub-programmes for addressing global challenges and industry competitiveness.

With a budget of around € 15 billion, the primary vision behind the proposed investments is that of a Europe that shapes competitive and reliable technologies for a European industry that will lead the world in key areas, enhancing the environmental dimension of production process, and consumption, with respect for the boundaries of the planet. The aim is to move to a competitive, digital, low carbon and cyclical industry that will ensure a sustainable supply of raw materials, develop advanced materials and provide the basis for progress and innovation in global societal challenges.

Areas of interventions :

  • manufacturing technologies
  • key digital technologies including quantum technologies
  • emerging enabling technologies
  • advanced materials
  • artificial intelligence and robotics
  • next generation internet
  • advanced computing and Big Data
  • circular industries
  • low carbon and clean industries
  • space including earth observation

EKT as National Contact Point for Horizon Europe

EKT is the National Contact Point for Horizon Europe, specifically the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) programme of Pillar 1  and the 'Health' and Digital Technologies, Industry and Space' sectors of Pillar 2 . With years of experience and know-how as a National Contact Point for European projects, it supports organisations, enterprises, academics and research organisations to identify funding opportunities, draft and submit proposals, implement projects and exploit research results. It not only contributes to the recording and analysis of Greece's participation in European research and innovation programmes but, as a National Contact Point, it also supports the implementation of ongoing projects under Horizon 2020. EKT is a key member of the NCP network for ICT in Horizon 2020 Ideal-ist and will participate in future NCP networks (Digital, Industry, Space).

EKT is the first Digital Innovation Hub (DIH) in Greece to be listed by the European Commission, actively participating in the EC DIH expert group and participating in EDIH submissions. EKT is also the co-ordinator of the EIT Health Hub for Greece.

With combined value-added services, EKT supports the Greek research and business community to excel and grow internationally. As co-ordinator of the Greek node of the Enterprise Europe Network, the largest business support network in the world, it provides services complementary to those of the National Contact Points, operating as a 'one-stop-shop' for business information on European issues, for finding business partnerships abroad, for technology transfer and innovation services, for mediation for international technological collaborations, for access to European funding and finding partners to participate in research proposals., with information from ΕΚΤ, European Commission