For many reasons (demographic changes, technological progress, fiscal constraints, public health emergencies etc.) the European health and care systems are expected to be subject to severe stress. In particular, the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted existing structural weaknesses in health and care systems, and emphasised areas where not enough effort, planning and resources had been directed to. In addition, rapid technological and societal evolutions call for urgent responses to increasing demands and expectations from citizens. There is a need to accelerate the transition towards more efficient, sustainable, resilient, innovative and accessible health and care systems in Europe. To this end, the creation of a research and innovation (R&I) partnership with a focus on health and care systems’ transformation represents a unique strategic opportunity to bring together stakeholders, create synergies, coordinate R&I actions, facilitate the digitization of health and care services and support the transformation of health and care systems with innovative solutions driven by knowledge and evidence. The partnership should build on knowledge gained from initiatives taken under Horizon 2020 (TO-REACH, Active and Assisted Living programme (AAL), Joint Programming Initiative More Years, Better, Lives (JPI MYBL), European Innovation partnership (EIP-AHA), ICPerMed, etc.). In order to increase the likelihood of successful system transformation, the partnership will facilitate exchange of information and good practices among countries, provide robust guidance and tools, network institutional stakeholders and involve regional ecosystems. It will stimulate service, policy and organisational innovations, as well as the integration of biomedical and technological innovations for the benefit of the European citizens and the European industry. Development of new products is beyond the scope of this Partnership. By laying the ground for the transformation of the health and care systems, the partnership will contribute to the transition of Europe to a more sustainable development and address emerging threats raised by environmental changes and globalisation.
The partnership should bring together a broad range of actors with a common vision of future health and care systems. Through the objectives of Horizon Europe, the partnership should contribute to achieving the following European Commission priorities:
- Promoting our European way of life
- An economy that works for people
- A Europe fit for the digital age
- A European green deal
The partnership will contribute to priorities of the “Communication on effective, accessible and resilient health systems” (COM(2014) 215 final), the “Communication on enabling the digital transformation of health and care in the Digital Single Market; empowering citizens and building a healthier society” (COM(2018) 233 final) and support the objectives of the Commission proposal for the new EU4Health Programme (COM(2020) 405 final).
Thanks to its capacity to bring together different stakeholders (e.g. research funders, health authorities, health and care institutions, innovators, policy makers), to create a critical mass of resources and to implement a long-term Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda (SRIA), the partnership will address the following objectives:
- Supporting multidisciplinary R&I to fill knowledge gaps, produce evidence and develop guidance and tools in priority areas for the transformation of health and care systems,
- Supporting the interdisciplinary development of service, policy and organisational innovations for health and care systems,
- Strengthening the R&I community in the field of health and care systems,
- Improving the capability of health and care actors to take up innovative solutions,
- Gathering stakeholders to develop the ecosystems needed for a swift uptake of innovations by health and care systems.
The European Partnership on transforming health and care systems[[More information on the planned European Partnerships is available on the Horizon Europe Webpage: https://ec.europa.eu/info/horizon-europe-next-research-and-innovation-framework-programme/european-partnerships-horizon-europe_en#partnership-candidates-and-contact-details.]] should be implemented through a joint programme of activities ranging from research to coordination and networking activities, including training, demonstration, piloting and dissemination activities, to be structured along the following main building blocks:
- Joint implementation of the SRIA;
- Joint annual calls for R&I activities, applied R&I, pilots, twinning projects;
- Joint annual calls for experimental development and innovation funding, co-creation, involvement of end-users, new concepts of care and innovative solutions for supporting health according to WHO definition; development of ecosystems, business models;
- Capacity building activities;
- Activities to increase health and digital literacy among citizens and health care practitioners;
- Flanking measures.
The Partnership is open to all EU Member States, as well as to countries associated to Horizon Europe and will remain open to those countries wanting to join. It should include the following actors:
- Ministries in charge of R&I policy, as well as national and regional R&I and technology funding agencies and foundations;
- Ministries in charge of health and care policy, as well as national and regional health and care authorities, organisations and providers.
The Partnership may also encourage engagement with other relevant Ministries and will involve other key actors from civil society and end-users, research and innovation community, innovation owners, health and care systems owners/organisers and health and care agencies.
The Partnership’s governance structure should enable an upfront strategic steering, effective management and coordination, daily implementation of activities and ensure the use and uptake of the results. The governance should leave sufficient space for involving the key stakeholders, including but not limited to R&I community, patients and citizens, health and care professionals, formal and informal care organisations, and innovation owners.
Financial commitments and in-kind contributions are expected to be provided for the governance structure, the joint calls and other dedicated implementation actions and efforts for national coordination.
To encourage national coordination and avoid an excess of grant signatories it is recommended to limit their number to two per country. However, in duly justified cases this number could differ, including for countries with decentralised administration to allow for participation of regional authorities in charge of R&I policy and health and care policy.
To ensure coherence and complementarity of activities and leverage knowledge and investment possibilities, the Partnership is expected to establish relevant collaborations with other Horizon Europe partnerships (institutionalized and co-funded) and missions as set out in the working document on ‘Coherence and Synergies of candidate European partnerships under Horizon Europe’[[https://ec.europa.eu/info/horizon-europe/european-partnerships-horizon-europe_en#synergies]] as well as to explore collaborations with other relevant activities at EU and international level. On top of this, the proposal should consider synergies with EU programmes, including but not limited to EU4Health, DEP, ESF+, ERDF, InvestEU, RRF and TSI.
The Partnership should align with EU-wide initiatives on open access and FAIR data[[FAIR data are data, which meet principles of findability, accessibility, interoperability, and reusability.]].
Although this Partnership will focus on the transformation of European health and care systems, cooperation with international organisations, and non-European institutions and experts may be considered. Applicants should describe in their proposal the methodology for their collaboration and the aims they want to achieve with this kind of collaboration.
Proposals should pool the necessary financial resources from the participating national (or regional) research programmes with a view to implementing joint calls for transnational proposals resulting in grants to third parties. Financial support provided by the participants to third parties is one of the primary activities of this action in order to be able to achieve its objectives. The EUR 60 000 threshold provided for in Article 204(a) of the Financial Regulation No 2018/1046[[Regulation (EU, Euratom) 2018/1046 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 July 2018 on the financial rules applicable to the general budget of the Union, amending Regulations (EU) No 1296/2013, (EU) No 1301/2013, (EU) No 1303/2013, (EU) No 1304/2013, (EU) No 1309/2013, (EU) No 1316/2013, (EU) No 223/2014, (EU) No 283/2014, and Decision No 541/2014/EU and repealing Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 966/2012; https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX%3A32018R1046 ]] does not apply.
The expected duration of the partnership is seven years.
Horizon Europe contribution will be limited to a maximum of 30% of the total eligible costs of the action with a maximum of EUR 100 million of EU contribution