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The H2020 Work Programme 2018-2020 for ‘health, demographic change and wellbeing’

July 27 2017

The 2018-2020 Work Programmes will mark the end of Horizon 2020, and are expected to be published in October. Draft versions are already circulating, and among others provide insight in what is to come for the Societal Challenge 1 ‘health, demographic change and wellbeing’. Are you ready?

The 2018-2020 ‘Health’ Work Programme for ‘health, demographic change and wellbeing’ seems to have two central themes: Better Health and Care, economic growth and sustainable health (BHC) (indicative budgets: €414M for 2018, €507M for 2019) and Digital transformation in Health and Care (DTH) (indicative budgets: €90M for 2018, €107.5M for 2019).

What does the 2018-2020 Work Programme offer?

Under the first theme, ‘Better Health and Care, economic growth and sustainable health (BHC)’, 5 main priorities have been established:

  • Personalised medicine: understanding causative mechanisms; developing biomarkers for improved stratification and prediction; discovery of combinational therapies. 
  • Innovative health and care industry: developing innovative technologies based on regenerative processes; building innovation platforms for advanced therapies; implementing next-generation sequencing in routine diagnostics.
  • Infectious diseases and improving global health: optimising tools for detection and surveillance; developing concepts for more effective prevention, treatment and/or cure; development of already existing lead drug and vaccine candidates.
  • Innovative health and care systems – integration of care: implementing personalised medicine in healthcare; improving health technology assessment methodology; developing novel patient-centred approaches for survivorship, palliation and/or end-of-life care.
  • Decoding the role of the environment for health and well-being: developing new testing and screening methods for endocrine disrupting chemicals; assessing the impact of environment on health (the exposome).

Under the second theme, ‘Digital Transformation in Health and Care (DTH)’, the focus veers onto healthcare solutions of a more digital nature. By supporting innovations in the areas of eHealth, mobile health (mHealth) and information and communications technology (ICT), the ultimate goals of this call are to:

  • Enable better access to healthcare for patients: innovating tools for more rapid, effective and secure methods for the remote diagnosis and treatment of patients; identifying correlations between real-world metrics and recovery/disease progression et cetera.
  • Ensure the sustainability of health and care systems: designing smart solutions to support the ageing population; developing and validating software tools for enabling personalised diagnostics and treatments; standardising health and medicinal record management systems across Europe; large-scale pilots of digital innovations et cetera.

What did we notice?

Whereas the 2016-2017 Work Programme mainly consisted of translational and clinical research calls, the 2018-2020 the Better Health and Care topics seem to accommodate for more early stage research and the development of novel technologies. While this is good news for fundamental scientists, the programme also offers great opportunities for strategic collaboration with industry (and especially SMEs) to achieve application. Similar to 2016-2017, topics are less defined by disease and more by field, but demand more efficient use of existing resources and data-driven systems approaches for analysis of multiple layers of information. On the other hand, for topics that fall under the Digital Transformation in Health and Care theme, the trend appears to be shifting in the other way, in that a number of calls are designed to support pilot experiments to test the implementation of digital solutions on a large scale. Such calls are to facilitate the EU-wide standardisation and connection of the digital health space, which is in line with several of the Commission’s priorities: a connected Single Digital Market, The European Cloud Initiative and The European Free Flow of Data Initiative. In regards to international partnerships, this Work Programme also introduces several topics requesting strategic collaborations with non-EU organisations in e.g. Latin America, Africa, China, Canada and/or Russia. 

And now?

From identifying the right opportunity and building a strong consortium to navigating the numerous requirements and rules, assembling a competitive H2020 bid can be challenging. ttopstart helps research groups and innovative companies to develop strong funding strategies for the 2018-2020 ‘Health’ Work Programme. We can help identify the right calls, develop competitive (public-private) consortia and support with the writing and project management. If you have an idea that you want to further develop with Horizon 2020 funding, we advise that you start your preparations soon. The first pre-proposal deadline is currently planned for February 2018, with the bulk of major deadlines scheduled in April. You can read up on Horizon 2020 proposal writing with our free resources on the ttopstart academy knowledge hub. Alternatively, feel free to contact us to discuss what the new ‘Health’ Work Programme can mean for you or stay tuned for more updates in the coming months.

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Karlijn Bastiaansen, PhD