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When IT meets health – European funding for digital solutions in the health and care sector


Promising ICT + health networking opportunities in Horizon 2020

Matters of ICT play a prominent role in the technological progress of the healthcare sector. Therefore, topics related to ICT are widespread throughout most parts of the Horizon 2020 programme, particularly in the Societal Challenge 1 of Horizon 2020 ‘Health, demographic change and wellbeing’. The domains of eHealth and telemedicine open possibilities for innovative cutting-edge developments that enable a digital transformation in health and care.

This article addresses ICT and health communities alike and aims at drawing their attention to a plethora of eHealth topics with high budgets, interesting funding schemes and funding opportunities all the way along the innovation chain. Also, twofold support is offered from ICT and health NCPs.

Funding opportunities for the development, testing and procurement of digital solutions in the health and care sector

The European Commission invests considerable sums in the field of digital health. First of all, Horizon 2020 aims at promoting economic growth and creating jobs. Thus, two calls in the Horizon 2020 Societal Challenge 1 “Health, demographic change and wellbeing” aim at advancing the digital economy in the health and care sector. Furthermore it is believed that the management of health and wellbeing will be improved by boosting the transformation of health and care services to more digitised models of care. For more information, one can find details on the call Digital transformation in Health and Care on the Horizon 2020 participant portal.

Another focus lies on cybersecurity to assure data privacy and protect health and care infrastructures from exterior threats when it comes to big data approaches and user-driven ICT-based solutions in the health sector. More details can be found on the participant portal under the call Trusted digital solutions and cybersecurity in health and care.

IT methods and areas include, but are not limited to:

  • artificial intelligence,
  • big data approaches,
  • in-silico methods,
  • robotics,
  • open service platforms,
  • date interoperability, and
  • smart hospitals of the future.

What is  even more interesting: a large set of funding schemes is available to support basic research, but also offers financial support to feasibility studies, validation of prototypes up to procurement of innovative digital solutions once they are available on the market! The range of funding schemes and how they match the technological advancement in the innovation chain is depicted in the following figure. In brackets the funding rate is indicated, e.g. for research and innovation actions 100 % of the eligible project costs are reimbursed by the European Commission. One of the novelties of Horizon 2020 is that activities that are closer to the market can also receive funding. The field of Innovation Procurement can either support the development of innovative solutions that are not yet on the market (pre-commercial procurement), or even the acquisition of an innovative digital solution in the health and care sector.

Figure „Funding schemes along the innovation chain”, copyright DRL project managment agency.

Figure „Funding schemes along the innovation chain”, copyright DRL project managment agency. 

How to get funding

To make the grade to the high set goals of the European Commission, expertise and skills from health and IT disciplines and sectors need to work cooperatively.

Several bottlenecks might occur:

  • bringing together biomedical expertise, patients representatives, health regulators, insurance companies with cutting-edge IT developers,
  • searching for a “common language” to work out concepts for interdisciplinary proposals,
  • finding the right balance of skills and know-how in the consortia,
  • getting support from the right experts during the proposal writing process.

Given that the partner search, dialogue and project design between very distinct disciplines might be difficult, it is of utmost importance to get early support from experts! This is where National Contact Points (NCPs) can help in solving the bottlenecks and support you along the way. Given the importance of both disciplines, the complementary guidance of Health and ICT NCP can provide a great level of support. Contact information on national Health NCPs can be found on the Health NCP Network (HNN 2.0) website: and on national ICT NCPs on the Ideal-Ist website:

Do not hesitate to contact one or both of the specialised NCPs – we are there to support and guide you throughout your application process, partner search and many other things.  Our services are free of charge. We are looking forward to help you find your way from a great idea to a successful application.

Date of upload: 17/12/2018