Missions for EU research and innovation

The mission-oriented research and innovation policy adopted in Horizon Europe is a welcomed approach to address challenges faced by people in their daily lives. From a research and innovation perspective it is also an opportunity to reduce policy fragmentation, interdisciplinarity and cross-sectoral collaboration, and strengthen public engagement through the involvement of regional and local innovation ecosystems. As such, the missions bottom-up nature, flexibility, and the clear involvement of citizens going hand in hand with the excellence is a welcome addition to Horizon Europe.

From the first discussions and the Mazzucato report to the selection of the five mission areas and the publication of the interim reports in the summer of 2020, ERRIN has been actively involved in bringing in the regional and local perspective, and exploring what opportunities the missions could provide for regions and cities. Below you will find more information about our work on the different missions.

Mission areas in Horizon Europe

ERRIN's input paper on the Horizon Europe missions

October 2020

ERRIN's work on the Horizon Europe missions

Read more about our work related to the five mission areas.

Climate Neutral and Smart Cities

The Mission area: Climate-neutral and smart cities proposes to support 100 European cities in their systemic transformation towards climate-neutrality by 2030. The Mission aims to create a bottom-up approach towards achieving climate neutrality supported by a Climate City Contract, which requires the participation of the entire local ecosystem and support from all governance levels.

ERRIN is represented in the Mission Assembly, which aims to provide an additional pool of ideas, knowledge and expertise to the mission.

ERRIN has taken an active role in shaping the Mission on Climate Neutral and Smart Cities. Driven by the Smart Cities working group leaders, ERRIN is closely following the work of the Mission Board. Input has been provided in the form of a draft contribution (end 2019) and a more extensive input paper (April 2020), which provides recommendations in relation to the ambitions, financing, selection process and set up of the Mission, while also putting forward practical suggestions on implementation.


Adaptation to climate change including societal transformation

This mission area will support adjustment and solutions to climate change, but also address communities to lead the societal transformation. The vision is to turn the urgent challenge of adapting to climate change into an opportunity to make Europe more resilient, climate prepared and fair, through a three-layered approach. The three objectives are to prepare all citizens for climate disruptions, to build resilience, and to upscale solutions through 100 deep demonstrators, and accelerate the transition in 200 pilot regions and communities.

ERRIN has developed an input document which follows an exchange with Mission Board Chair held earlier this year.  

Green leaves


Cancer is one of Europe’s five major societal challenges and the projection is that, without strong action, the number of diagnosed cases will increase by a fourth by 2035. Across Europe, the possibility of receiving a timely cancer diagnosis and of surviving the disease differs a lot because of inequalities in access to knowledge, prevention, diagnostics, treatments, and care.

To address this, the goal of the mission has been formulated in the following way: “by 2030, more than 3 million lives saved, living longer and better”. In its interim report, the Mission Board proposed five intervention areas: i) understanding ii) prevention iii) diagnosis and treatment iv) quality of life v) equitable access.

In 2020, the Health WG organised a webinar to discuss the development of the mission on cancer with one of the Mission Board members and developed and released a joint statement with EUREGHA calling for the regional dimension of the Mission to be clearly defined and included in its design and implementation. In 2021, the Health WG continues to follow the Mission closely and is anticipating the publication of the implementation plan. 

(Image source: Conquering Cancer. Mission possible: Interim report of the Mission Board for Cancer)

national cancer institute

Regenerating our oceans and waters by 2030

Pollution and unsustainable use have severely damaged and degraded aquatic ecosystems, which are fundamental to life on this planet. Climate change and ocean acidification add additional pressure making the challenge to have healthy oceans and waters even more complex. The Mission Board proposes five targets in its interim report related to science and data, pollution, sustainable use, management of aquatic resources, decarbonisation and improving governance.

Throughout 2020 and 2021 the Blue Growth WG has been closely following the Starfish Mission and in June 2021 organised, together with the Mission Starfish secretariat, prepared an informal dialogue on the area-based lighthouses anticipated in the Mission, focussing on the lighthouses' activities, their scale and governance. A report of the dialogue is available to read here and includes ERRIN's key messages and outcomes relating to the scope, scale, governance and synergies of the lighthouses within the Missions. 

(Image source: Regenerating our Ocean and Waters by 2030 - Interim report of the Mission Board Healthy Oceans, Seas, Coastal and Inland Waters)

Jakob Owens on Unsplash

Soil health and food

Soil degradation is driven by unsustainable human activities related to management practices in forestry and agriculture, pollution from industries and urbanisation, as well as processes in the food chain and food waste. As the Mission Board points out in its interim report, soil is a fragile resource that takes a long time to renew which makes the challenge of restoring and promoting soil health a priority.

To maximise the impact of the mission, research activities will be adapted to local and regional conditions. Knowledge will be co-created in living labs that will address specific needs for soil health. These living lands will form regional clusters with the objective to spur co-innovation at both landscape and watershed levels.

In February 2021, ERRIN's Bioeconomy Working Group organised an info session on the Mission, during which members took a particular interest in the development of the lighthouse demonstrators. The WG continues to follow the Mission and is anticipating the publication of the implementation plan at EU R&I Days 2021. 

Spade in soil

Latest Updates

  • By Heidi Johansson

Call for examples related to the Cities Mission’s Expression of Interest

The Smart Cities working group will in September organise an information session on the call for Expressions of Interest, which will be launched by the European Commission in early autumn within the frame of the Mission on climate-neutral and smart cities. As part of this meeting, the WG is now collecting inspirational examples related to the different elements of the Expression of Interest.

  • By Hilary Webb

Report on ERRIN - EC dialogue on Mission Starfish

ERRIN's report on its recent dialogue with the European Commission on Mission Starfish including examples provided by ERRIN members and key messages on the role of local and regional actors in the Mission. 

  • By Hilary Webb

Report on ERRIN - EC dialogue on Mission Starfish

In June 2021, ERRIN's Blue Growth Working Group and the European Commission’s Mission Secretariat co-organised a dialogue on the participation of regional and local actors in the Mission Area: Healthy Oceans, Seas, Coastal and Inland Waters. ERRIN has produced a report on the dialogue including examples presented by ERRIN members and key messages on the role of regions in the Mission. 

  • By Hilary Webb

Successful ERRIN - EC dialogue on Mission Starfish

On 18 June ERRIN’s Blue Growth Working Group organised together with the Mission Starfish Secretariat a dialogue on the role of regions in area-based lighthouses anticipated in the Mission. It was an opportunity for ERRIN members to come together with those working on the Mission and its implementation plan to discuss potential lighthouse activities, their scale and governance.

  • By Hilary Webb

First Horizon Europe calls launch

The first calls for proposals in the EU's new key funding programme for research and Innovation, Horizon Europe, are now open.

  • By Hilary Webb

Call for input - Dialogue with European Commission on Mission Starfish 2030

ERRIN is organising an informal discussion together with the European Commission on the Mission area: healthy oceans, seas, coastal and inland waters with a particular focus on exploring the proposed 'area-based lighthouse demonstrators'. Ahead of the dialogue, ERRIN members are invited to provide input.