By Caterina Buonocore, Horizon 2020 Italian National Contact Point* for Societal Challenge 1 “Health, demographic change and wellbeing’ APRE – Agency for the Promotion of European Research
The 2018-2020 ‘Health’ Work Programme for ‘Health, demographic change and wellbeing’ seems to have three central themes:
- Better Health and Care, economic growth and sustainable health (BHC) – indicative budget: €445 M for 2018, €504M for 2019);
- Digital transformation in Health and Care (DTH) – budget: €100 M for 2018, €107.5M for 2019;
- Trusted digital Solution and Cybersecurity in health and care – budget 2018 €36 M, 2019 €60 M.
Under the first call, ‘Better Health and Care, economic growth and sustainable health (BHC)’ five priorities have been chosen:
- 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: optimizing 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 call, ‘Digital Transformation in Health and Care (DTH)’ the focus on healthcare solutions is 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.
The previous 2016-2017 Work Programme mainly consisted of translational and clinical research calls, with the 2018-2020 “Better Health and Care” topics seem to be open to more early stage research and 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” all 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 standardization 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.
*The network of National Contact Points (NCPs) is the main structure to provide guidance, practical information and assistance on all aspects of participation in Horizon 2020. NCPs are also established in many non-EU and non-associated countries (“third countries”).