International network to promote cultural heritage innovation and diplomacy

Over the years, Europe has developed world-renowned knowledge, expertise, practices, skills and technologies to protect, conserve, manage, enhance and leverage value from its rich and diverse cultural heritage. Cultural heritage not only provides people with a sense of identity and belonging, it also brings a large innovation potential to a number of economic sectors such as tourism, cultural industries, urban planning, regional planning, arts and design. It can also contribute to improving the EU’s relations with other regions. Nevertheless, in some countries cultural heritage is still an underestimated resource and/or is at risk or under threat for various reasons (e.g. lack of awareness, economic crisis, conflicts, natural and anthropogenic hazards, mass tourism, etc.).


Actions should establish an international network that will capitalise on EU expertise to leverage the value of European cultural heritage assets, promote heritage-led innovation for sustainable development and provide expertise and assistance, particularly where cultural heritage is at risk. The network should include researchers, policy-makers, businesses (including SMEs), societal and cultural institutions, including NGOs and CSOs, public and private organisations, investors, experts, innovators and citizens. Through a process of continuous dialogue, interaction and sharing of experiences, including with appropriate UN agencies, the network should:

  • identify, review, document and promote successful heritage-led initiatives, knowledge, innovative solutions, new governance, finance and business models, innovative regulative frameworks, tools, technologies (e.g. Earth observation data – EU Copernicus, drones, satellite navigation and positioning, nanomaterials, ICT etc.) and approaches for monitoring, protecting, preserving and managing cultural heritage, and promoting its innovation potential for sustainable development, especially where cultural heritage is at risk; to further capitalize on the works of the 2018 European Year of Cultural Heritage, the network should explore possibilities for further pursuance of the innovation relevant outcomes generated during this year;
  • identify specific domains and priorities where further research and innovation is needed, accounting also for the gender dimension;
  • analyse potential regulatory, economic, social and technical barriers and propose concrete ways to overcome them at the EU and international levels;
  • develop guidelines, tools and methodologies to leverage cultural heritage potential for diplomacy to improve EU relations with other parts of the world;
  • conduct capacity building to foster collective management, responsibility and ownership of heritage and awareness raising activities among public authorities, stakeholders and society, particularly in countries where heritage is at risk, about the potential of cultural heritage as an investment opportunity with multiple benefits for the economy, society and the environment, rather than as a cost factor.

The network should involve institutions, organisations and relevant stakeholders from a broad range of EU Member States and Associated countries. In line with the strategy for EU international cooperation in research and innovation (COM(2012)497), international cooperation is encouraged, in particular with EU Neighbourhood countries and with countries in which cultural heritage assets are under threat.

The network should envisage resources for clustering with other projects relevant to cultural heritage funded under previous, current and future Horizon 2020 calls within Societal Challenge 5 in order to take due account of their outcomes. It should also create synergies with other relevant ongoing initiatives such as the JPI Cultural Heritage.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU in the range of EUR 2.5 million to EUR 3 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Expected Impact

The project results are expected to contribute to:

  • more extensive protection and preservation of cultural heritage, and optimal use of its innovation potential for sustainable development;
  • the emergence of a global market for heritage-led sustainable innovation, through EU-wide evidence and increased awareness among investors, practitioners and the public;
  • enhanced capacity of third countries to manage, enhance and safeguard cultural heritage, particularly where it is at risk, through provision of EU knowhow and assistance;
  • improved cross-fertilisation between the corresponding EU and UN policies and actions relevant to cultural heritage;
  • increased support to the new EU Strategy for International Cultural Relations and more effective EU external relations through cultural heritage diplomacy.

Delegation Exception Footnote

This activity directly aimed at supporting the development and implementation of evidence base for R&I policies and supporting various groups of stakeholders and the promotion of coherent and effective cooperation with third countries is excluded from the delegation to EASME and will be implemented by the Commission services.

Cross-cutting Priorities

  • International cooperation
  • Gender
  • Open Science
  • Open Innovation
  • RRI
  • Socio-economic science and humanities
Application date
Humanities : Anthropology & Ethnology, Arts and Art history, Digital humanities and big data
Social sciences : Information and Communication Sciences, International Relations, Pedagogic & Education Research, Sociology