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Culture and Creativity

Research and innovation

Research and innovation nurture smart and technologically advanced solutions to help Europe protect and promote its cultural heritage. Among other solutions, it can give digital access to physically inaccessible sites and preserve priceless artefacts.

The European Union (EU) invests in developing European expertise in this field through the EU Research and Innovation programme, Horizon 2020, and the Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC).

From 2014 to 2020, Horizon 2020 invested around €500 million on research actions related to cultural heritage. A policy review titled 'Innovation in Cultural Heritage Research' (March 2018) describes the latest cutting-edge developments around these actions.

Research actions under Horizon 2020 dedicated to cultural heritage

In recent years, the European Union has launched several actions under Horizon 2020, some of them at the same time as the European Year of Cultural Heritage. These include the following calls for research and innovation actions:

  • development of cost-effective technologies to “increase resilience and sustainable reconstruction of historic areas to cope with climate change and hazard events” and to reconstruct damaged historic areas after disasters, respecting their historic value.
  • “Inclusive and sustainable growth through cultural and creative industries and the arts”. The aim of this research is to provide scientific evidence for designing a more coherent European industrial policy.
  • “Digitisation, Digital Single Market and European culture: new challenges for creativity, intellectual property rights and copyright”. The aim of this research is to assess the impact of digitisation on access to European cultural goods and services.
  • “Innovative approaches to urban and regional development through cultural tourism”: the aim of this action is to improve available data and understanding of cultural tourism in Europe.
  • “The societal value of culture and the impact of cultural policies in Europe”: the aim of this action is to provide new methodologies and statistical data on the societal value of culture.
  • “Collaborative approaches to cultural heritage for social cohesion”: the aim of this action is to foster cultural diversity and social cohesion in the cultural heritage sector.
  • "Social Platform on endangered cultural heritage and on illicit trafficking of cultural goods”.

The Horizon 2020 research community, Innovators on Cultural Heritage, has also been running since 2018. This is an open exchange platform that offers a virtual environment to share results, exchange ideas and best practices and to create synergies. It gathers key stakeholders, cultural heritage organisations and practitioners, entrepreneurs, investors and researchers.

Highlighted projects


The project, "Cultural Opposition – Understanding the CultuRal HeritAGE of Dissent in the Former Socialist Countries" assembled information on collections of artefacts from cultural resistance movements in former socialist countries in an online registry and built a user-friendly database of these collections.

Find out more about the COURAGE project.


The project, "Transmitting Contentious Cultural Heritages with the Arts", explored the role of history and conflicting heritage in contemporary Europe. It provided new direction for cultural institutions to effectively transmit controversial cultural heritage. One of its priorities was to enable innovative collaborative processes between art, research, heritage agencies and stakeholders and to develop new participatory methodologies.

Find out more about the TRACES project.