Identifiant du topic: HORIZON-CL6-2022-COMMUNITIES-02-01-two-stage

Smart solutions for smart rural communities: empowering rural communities and smart villages to innovate for societal change

Type d'action : HORIZON Innovation Actions
Nombre d'étapes : Two stage
Date d'ouverture : 28 octobre 2021
Date de clôture 1 : 23 février 2022 17:00
Date de clôture 2 : 06 septembre 2022 17:00
Budget : €14 000 000
Call : Resilient, inclusive, healthy and green rural, coastal and urban communities
Call Identifier : HORIZON-CL6-2022-COMMUNITIES-02-two-stage
Description :


The successful proposal will contribute to fostering a sustainable, balanced and inclusive development of rural areas, supporting the implementation of the European Green Deal[1], in particular its fair and just transition component, the European digital strategy[2], the European pillar of social rights[3] and the EU long-term vision for rural areas[4]. It will do so by supporting digital, social and community-led innovations and by equipping rural communities with innovative and smarter solutions that increase access to services, opportunities and adequate innovation ecosystems, including for women, youth and the most vulnerable groups, improve attractiveness and reduce the feeling of being left behind, even in the most remote locations like mountains. The increased availability of smart solutions and support to community-led innovations will empower people to act for change and get prepared to achieve climate neutrality by 2050, adapt to climate change, and turn digital and ecological transitions into increased resilience, good health and positive long-term prospects, including jobs, for all including women, young people and vulnerable groups.

Project results are expected to contribute to all of the following expected outcomes:

  • Enhanced capacity of rural communities and rural people to innovate for change thanks to the specific outcomes below;
  • Enlarged set of smart solutions for rural communities (practical and transferable innovative solutions to challenges faced by rural communities in a variety of fields e.g. social services, health, energy, mobility, climate adaptation and mitigation, biodiversity and ecosystem management, education, access to culture, etc.).
  • Upgraded approaches, methods, tools and skills to design, implement, monitor and evaluate community-led innovations contributing to the implementation of smart village[5] strategies and social innovation[6] initiatives improving i) rural people’s well-being, ii) rural community resilience to shocks, iii) rural contributions to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and to the EU long-term vision for rural areas[7].
  • Strengthened human capital, including networks, enhanced relations and knowledge exchange between smart villages and rural community innovators on transferable innovations and innovation processes.


Proposals should start from past work conducted in the framework of i) EU action on smart villages[8], including the related preparatory actions[9]; and ii) Horizon 2020 projects dedicated to social innovation in rural areas[10]. Proposals should support a large number of rural community-led, social innovation or smart village pilot initiatives in a set of locations in the EU and Associated Countries representative of the diversity of social and geographical contexts. They should prototype, test, pilot and demonstrate innovations that answer the most pressing rural challenges found at these locations, with particular attention to social and environmental challenges.

Proposals should explore various forms of innovations: technical, technological, business, organisational and social. Social innovation is recommended when the solution is at the interface between social and technical solutions and requires social change, new social practices, social ownership or market uptake. Proposals should exploit in particular the potential of digital technologies to answer rural communities’ challenges, respecting the principles of the declarations on “joining forces to boost sustainable digital transformation in cities and communities”[11] and on “a smart and sustainable digital future for European agriculture and rural areas”[12]. Proposals should build on the work of projects funded under the topic DT-ICT-09-2020[13] and avoid duplications.

Criteria for selecting the pilot initiatives supported should include the contribution to rural people’s well-being, rural community resilience to shocks, Sustainable Development Goals and the EU’s long-term vision for rural areas as well as the potential transferability or replicability of the innovations to other European villages facing similar conditions. The experience gained from supporting these community-led innovation pilot initiatives should lead proposals to formulate upgraded approaches, methods and tools that should be widely disseminated in close coordination with the ‘expertise and training centre on rural innovation funded under HORIZON-CL6-2021-COMMUNITIES-01-02. Proposals should also capitalise on i) rural innovation processes and knowledge and innovation systems or ecosystems needed to support rural community-led or social innovation and smart villages; and ii) lessons learnt to improve policies and governance frameworks, especially on instruments supporting the development of social capital, social networks, social economy and social innovation and with attention to various needs of various target groups.

Proposals must implement the multi-actor approach, bringing together scientists alongside rural community organisations, action groups or networks with a demonstrated ability to connect to a large number of local communities and disseminate and exploit project results. The consortium should bring together a multiplicity of competences and science disciplines with an effective contribution of SSH disciplines, to ensure a skilled accompaniment of a wide range of innovation areas likely to come from the pilot initiatives (climate mitigation and adaptation, social care and services, energy, mobility, culture, education etc.) and innovation approaches and technologies (technical, organisational, social, digital…). It should demonstrate substantial prior experience in facilitating community-led bottom-up innovation initiatives.

As an option, proposals may provide financial support to third parties, particularly for SMEs or entities who would develop specific innovative solutions needed in the pilot initiatives. Consortia who decide to use this option should define the selection process of entities for which financial support will be granted.

Proposals should include a task to cooperate with other projects funded under this topic, other relevant innovation projects and with the ‘expertise and training centre on rural innovation’ funded under HORIZON-CL6-2021-COMMUNITIES-01-02 from the beginning of the project (taking up tools and training kits) until its end (dissemination of upgraded tools and smart solutions) and with the projects funded under HORIZON-CL6-2022-COMMUNITIES-01-01 for issues related to women-led innovation. Proposals should also foresee close coordination with the common agricultural policy networks[14] to maximise the contribution of project activities to the achievement of future common agricultural policy (2021-2027) objectives[15], in particular in relation with smart villages[16]. Finally, proposals are encouraged to liaise with the relevant European Institute of Technology knowledge and innovation communities[17].

Specific Topic Conditions:

Where relevant, activities are expected to achieve TRL 6-7 by the end of the project – see General Annex B.

Cross-cutting Priorities:

Social sciences and humanitiesSocial InnovationSocietal EngagementDigital AgendaArtificial Intelligence





[5]Smart villages are defined for this call as “communities in rural areas that use innovative solutions to improve their resilience, building on local strengths and opportunities”. A more complete definition is available on p.2 of the briefing note from February 2019:

[6]Social innovation is defined for this topic as “the reconfiguring of social practices, in response to societal challenges, which seeks to enhance outcomes on societal well-being and necessarily includes the engagement of civil society actors”. (SIMRA)




[10]In particular:





[14]Currently ENRD and EIP-AGRI ( to be replaced by the networks to be funded under the future CAP:…