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A new European call for proposals for urban transition projects

Driving Urban Transitions

The Driving Urban Transitions (DUT) partnership call, funded by the European Commission under the Horizon Europe programme, will open on 21 September. It aims to support transnational research and innovation projects that address urban challenges to help cities in their transition towards a more sustainable economy and functioning. The deadline for submission of the preliminary proposal is 21 November 2022.

“This is a great opportunity for European cities and regions to work on a transition of cities by bringing together research centres, technology institutes and universities with civil society, businesses and private actors that can provide solutions,” stresses Javier Lahuerta, head of Zabala Innovation’s Regions knowledge area.

The projects selected under the Driving Urban Transition call will be funded directly by the national or regional funding agencies of Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Turkey.

Each proposal must involve at least three partners belonging to three countries on this list and eligible for funding from their respective funding agencies. The added value of transnational collaboration must be indicated in the proposal.

The three paths of Driving Urban Transitions

The call is open to a wide range of scientific disciplines and welcomes interdisciplinary approaches. It aims to support a wide range of activities, from research to innovation and application. It also calls for explicit involvement of stakeholders (businesses, public authorities, NGOs…) in the projects and user needs to be taken into account in the identification of project objectives.

The challenges of this call are grouped around three themes.

Positive Energy Districts (PED)

Aims to optimise the local energy system through energy efficiency, flexibility and local energy generation from renewable energies in actions towards urban energy transition and climate neutrality and the integration of these actions in urban planning processes.

Its development relies heavily on the cooperation of key stakeholders such as public administrations, property developers and utilities. Its mission is to deliver at least 100 districts by 2025. In addition, it will contribute to the Climate Neutral and Smart Cities EU Mission by creating a portfolio of district-related solutions to achieve climate neutrality.

These are its topics:

  • Energy communities – energy transition driven by civil society.
  • Energy flexibility strategies – technological, legal, societal challenges.
  • Energy efficiency in existing urban structures.

15-minute city (15mC)

It focuses on rethinking the current mobility system and urban morphology to promote sustainable mobility options, redistribute urban space and reorganise our daily activities to make our cities more climate neutral, liveable and inclusive.

It is based on the idea that city dwellers should be able to cover most of their daily needs within a 15-minute radius, walking or cycling, while connecting to other districts and travelling longer distances by other forms of sustainable transport. Its mission is to facilitate the analysis, elaboration, experimentation and testing of innovations for 15-minute cities in co-creation environments, bringing them together in an innovation portfolio of cities accumulating more than 50 experiences and practices, recognising different urban contexts and focusing on transferability.

Its topics are:

  • Strengthen the mix of urban functions and services.
  • Foster sustainable options for personal mobility and logistics in urban outskirts (and beyond).
  • (Re)imagine urban public spaces and streets for vibrant, sustainable neighbourhoods.

Circular Urban Economies (CUE)

It aims to foster the design of places characterised by regenerative urbanism, i.e., liveable, inclusive and green communities and neighbourhoods that are underpinned by circular urban economies and resource flows.

CUE promotes a multitude of tools and approaches that combine efforts to increase urban resource efficiency and liveability. By collecting examples and grouping them according to theme and context, CUE will provide a portfolio of more than 50 solutions that can contribute to the circular transformation of urban areas until the end of the partnership.

Its topics are:

  • Urban Resource Sharing and Circularity.
  • Nature-based solutions (NBS).
  • Urban food systems.


Since urban transition issues are intrinsically interconnected, several topics can be addressed in the same proposal, either within the same theme or across different themes.

All projects should choose as their main topic the one that is closest to the theme they wish to address. Although the proposal will be evaluated within the main topic, cross-thematic features will also be taken into account in the evaluation.

DUT is a European partnership co-funded by more than 60 partners from 27 countries, involving national and regional policymakers, funders and city-related policy agencies to invest in urban R&D and strengthen a European innovation ecosystem for urban transitions. Building on the achievements of the Joint Programming Initiative (JPI) Urban Europe, DUT aims to create a strong community around urban transitions and establish a renowned research and innovation platform to help cities become more sustainable, inclusive and liveable. DUT is one of 49 European partnerships under Horizon Europe and the only one that addresses urban development in its complexity, with a close link to the European mission of 100 climate-neutral and smart cities.

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