Cluster 4 Digital, Industry and Space

To ensure industrial competitiveness and the capacity to address the global challenges ahead, the EU must increase its technological sovereignty and its scientific, technological and industrial capacities in the key areas that underpin the transformation of our economy, the work place and society.

A new wave of innovation, involving a merging of physical and digital technologies, will trigger huge opportunities for EU industry and improve the quality of life for EU citizens.

Digitisation is a major driver. As it continues at a rapid pace across all sectors, investment in priority areas ranging from trustworthy artificial intelligence to next generation internet, high performance computing, photonics, quantum technologies, robotics and micro-/nano-electronics, becomes essential for the strength of our economy and the sustainability of our society.

Key enabling technologies (advanced materials and nanotechnology, photonics and micro- and nano-electronics, life science technologies, advanced manufacturing and processing, artificial intelligence and digital security and connectivity) underpin the blending of the digital and the physical worlds, central to this new global wave of innovation. Investing in research, development, demonstration and deployment of key enabling technologies, and ensuring a secure, sustainable and affordable supply of raw and advanced materials, will secure EU strategic autonomy and help EU industry to significantly reduce its carbon and environmental footprints.

Specific future and emerging technologies will also be pursued as appropriate.

The EU has a world-class space sector, with a strong satellite manufacturing and access to space industry and a dynamic downstream services sector. Space provides important tools for communication, navigation, and earth observation and opens up many business opportunities especially in combination with digital technologies and other sources of data. The EU must make the most of these opportunities by fully exploiting the potential of its space programmes Copernicus, EGNOS and Galileo, and the new components aiming at the protection of space and terrestrial infrastructures against space threats (SST) and promoting governmental satellite communications (GOVSATCOM). These components will be completed with research in quantum technologies in order to establish the UE as a global reference in this area.

The EU has the unique chance of being a global leader and increase its share of world markets, by showcasing how digital transformation, leadership in key enabling and space technologies, the transition to a low-carbon, circular economy and competitiveness can reinforce each other through scientific and technological excellence.

To make the digitised, circular, low-carbon and low-emission economy a reality, action is needed at EU level because of the complexity of value chains, the systemic and multi-disciplinary nature of the technologies and their high development costs, and the cross-sectoral nature of the problems to be addressed. The EU must ensure that all industrial players, and society at large, can benefit from advanced and clean technologies and digitalisation. Developing technologies alone will not suffice. A societal understanding of these technologies and evolutions is crucial for engaging end users and behavioural change. Industrially-oriented infrastructures, including pilot lines, will help EU businesses, and in particular SMEs, deploy these technologies and improve their innovation performance and may be facilitated also by other EU programmes.

Thus, for the seven-year period the following intervention areas will be addressed:

  • Manufacturing Technologies

  • Key Digital 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

A strong engagement of industry and civil society is essential for setting priorities and developing research and innovation agendas, increasing the leverage of public funding through private and public investments, and ensuring the better uptake of results. Societal understanding and acceptance, including consideration of the design of products, goods and services, are key ingredients for success, as well as a new agenda for industry-relevant skills and standardisation.

Therefore, at least 8 public-private partnerships are foreseen in this cluster:

  • High Performance Computing

  • Key Digital Technologies

  • Smart Networks and Services

  • AI, data and robotics

  • Clean Steel – Low Carbon Steelmaking

  • European Metrology

  • Made in Europe

  • Process4Planet

This Cluster contributes indirectally to all Missions due to its technological and cross-sectorial nature.