European Calls

There are regular Photonics Calls for Proposals published by the European Commission. The Photonics21 community is the dedicated body to define the European call topics for photonics.

European Photonics Calls:

There are no open European photonics calls at the moment.

The photonics calls under Horizon Europe Work Programme 2025 will be published as soon as the European Commission publishes the Work Programme.

You can find all open Horizon Europe calls on the CORDIS website.


Open Calls under the Digital Europe Programme (DIGITAL):

Specialised Education Programmes in Key Capacity Areas

Opening date: 04 July 2024
Deadline date: 21 November 2024



This topic aims at contributing to the target of reaching 20 million ICT specialists in the EU by 2030, while promoting gender convergence, as set in the Digital Decade Policy Programme. Gains from major breakthroughs in key capacity digital technological areas (e.g. artificial intelligence, data analytics, virtual worlds, photonics, quantum, cloud and edge computing, and others) cannot materialise if there are not enough people with adequate knowledge to develop, deploy and use those digital technologies and their related applications. Evidence from the Structured Dialogue on digital education and skills with Member States shows that a majority of Member States expressed concerns about the shortage of ICT specialists1. Even in Member States that are digital frontrunners, there is a persistent shortage of people able to develop and deploy key digital technologies2. There also is a significant increase in the demand for professionals combining sectoral knowledge with digital skills enabling the use of digital solutions for specific business cases. This is for example the case of employees in the manufacturing sector able to use augmented reality/virtual reality (AR/VR) tools to repair engines remotely, software developers and engineers with specific automotive expertise, or professionals in industrial sectors that are key to the green transition who are increasingly relying on advanced digital technologies in the development of renewable energy or clean and smart mobility solutions. These profiles can be referred to as users of advanced digital technologies and they are crucial to enable and support the digitalisation of traditional industrial sectors from agriculture and finance to manufacturing, automotive and medicine, and are key to achieve the twin green and digital transition.

Looking at the related education offer, the 2022 JRC report shows that the offer of specialised education programme in AI, cybersecurity, HPC and data science has slightly improved in the EU 27, in particular in AI, where the number of Master programmes has increased by 20% compared to the previous year. However, it remains lower than in the United States. For cybersecurity the United Kingdom alone continue to offer as many programmes as all EU Member States together3.

The actions in the skills pillar therefore aim at tackling this challenge, while triggering a new way of delivering these programmes, building partnerships between academia, businesses and research across the EU.

1 SWD (2023) 205 final: COMMISSION STAFF WORKING DOCUMENT accompanying the documents: Proposal for a Council Recommendation on the key enabling factors for successful digital education and training and Proposal for a Council Recommendation on improving the provision of digital skills in education and training {COM(2023) 205 final}

2 For example, over 70% of enterprises looking for ICT specialists in the Netherlands, Finland and Luxembourg found it extremely difficult to recruit ICT specialists. DESI 2022,




The first calls for Master’s programmes’ in the Digital Europe Programme have supported the development of excellent consortia delivering education programmes and self-standing modules to build up advanced digital skills in key digital areas, mainly AI and cybersecurity4, as well as interdisciplinary programmes targeting the acquisition of advanced digital skills in specific sectors, such as health. The call of 2023 built on the experience of the first work programme5, addressing the latest initiatives to support the development and deployment of key digital skills and capacities in digital technology areas, such as AI, data, cloud computing, Internet of Things, as well as other inter-, trans- or multi-disciplinary areas, and their applications in strategic sectors. The call of 2024 will support the development and deployment of key digital skills in selected digital areas: virtual worlds, edge computing, quantum computing, photonics, and robotics and automatization. The call will also support interdisciplinary programmes that will target the acquisition of advanced green digital skills (e.g. in the area of AI, data analytics, virtual/augmented reality, robotics, cloud computing, Internet of Things, machine learning, etc.) in selected strategic sectors: agriculture, transport, renewable energy, waste management, as well as the acquisition of advanced digital skills for government and public sector. In the selected digital areas and strategic sectors there is a high demand for ICT specialists (and is expected to further grow), but at the same time the offer of education programmes for these areas/sectors is limited, what will hinder their potential for economic uptake and growth. The call should also support possible cooperation in the context of ongoing international cooperation related to digital topics (e.g. digital partnerships, trade and technology councils, policy dialogues, Talent Growth Task Force), e.g. by supporting students from those countries with financial support (e.g. via scholarships, fee waivers, or others) to participate in the education programmes including promoting female students participation. The proposals should clearly identify one digital area or one strategic sector as the main focus of their work and the challenges addressed. It is expected to fund at least the highest-ranking proposal from each above listed digital area or strategic sector providing that all thresholds are attain and within the limits of the budget available for this topic.

Projects financed under this topic are encouraged to build synergies and complementarities with actions on technology deployment supported by other pillars of the programme as well as links and synergies with programmes and initiatives like Erasmus+, European Universities Alliances, Erasmus+ Alliances for Innovation, European Digital Innovation Hubs (EDIHs), the EIT Campus, the Deep Tech Talent Initiative and its possible follow-up initiatives, as well as the Large Scale Partnerships under the Pact for Skills.

The primary objective of this topic is to support the design and deliver a higher degree education programme(s) (at ISCED levels 6 (Bachelor's or equivalent level), 7 (Master's or equivalent level) or equivalent in 2023 and at ISCED levels 6, 7, 8 (doctoral or equivalent level) in 2024 - hereafter education programmes and to develop related self-standing modules, in selected key digital areas and for the acquisition of advanced digital skills in specific strategic sectors. Besides the design and delivery of new educational programmes and self-standing modules, the selected projects can cover activities to attract qualified teaching staff, scholarships for students, the purchase or leasing costs for equipment, and different activities to establish partnership between academia, industry and research centers. The selected projects will also bring a clear EU added-value to the proposed education activities (such as cross-border collaborations, networks and exchange of ideas).

4 Previous calls prioritised key digital areas were: Artificial intelligence, Blockchain, Cloud computing, Cybersecurity, Data, Extended reality, Internet of Things, Microelectronics, Photonics, Quantum, Robotics.

5 List of selected projects from previous DIGITAL programme calls are and will be available on the Funding and Tenders portal (i.e. DIGITAL-2021-SKILLS-01-SPECIALISED and DIGITAL-2022-SKILLS-03-SPECIALISED-EDU).


Expected Impact:


  • Consortia of higher education institutions, research organisations and businesses and other stakeholders design and deliver education programmes and self-standing modules in the area of advanced digital skills for developers and users of advanced digital technologies.
  • Higher education institutions are upgraded with digital solutions, equipment and infrastructure, with a special focus on interoperability of IT systems.
  • Students are supported with scholarships (for participating in education programmes and internships), or via other financial and support measures.
  • Structural and sustainable partnerships between members of the consortium are established.

Find more information on the official call website.


Open Calls by the European Innovation Council:

EIC Accelerator: It focuses on scientific discoveries or technological breakthroughs, which need significant funding over a longer timeframe before returns can be generated. Such innovations often struggle to attract financing because the risks and time involved are generally too high. This funding enables the innovators to attract the full investment amounts that are needed to scale up in a shorter timeframe.

EIC Pathfinder: Interdisciplinary teams of researchers can apply for research and innovation grants that will support them to realise their breakthrough ideas and have a transformative positive effect on our economy and society.