€32 million to drive carbon neutrality in cities 

September 5, 2022, Amsterdam – EIT Climate-KIC-led initiative NetZeroCities launches a two-year programme enabling cities to test and implement innovative approaches to rapid decarbonisation in Europe. The call for Pilot Cities runs under the auspices of the EU Mission Cities and offers €32 million in grants and hands-on support to the selected cities. The programme is open to all cities in the EU Member States and Horizon Europe Associated Countries. 

The Pilot Cities Programme will identify cities or districts to support large-scale piloting activities to exploit, deploy and scale research and innovation and systemic solutions that combine social, cultural, technological, nature-based, regulatory and financial innovations, as well as new business and governance models to underpin the transition to the net-zero. The programme will provide cities with support to implement a systemic approach to planning their activities. 

Thomas Osdoba, Director of Net Zero Cities and Senior Advisor on Cities for EIT Climate-KIC says: “Cities participating in the European Cities Mission will need to test new ways of working in order to achieve climate neutrality by 2030. Since no city is the same, we need to invest in them to test and adapt, learning based on how well changes can help make progress toward the Mission goal. This is what the Pilot Cities Programme is designed for.” 

The selected cities will receive funding in the form of grants and direct support for system innovation-oriented pilot activities from the NetZeroCities (NZC) Consortium partners. The grants are funded under Horizon 2020, the European Commission’s 2014-2020 Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (R&I) and will be awarded to 30 cities.

Supported by the services, knowledge and expertise provided by the NZC Platform, the Pilot Cities will commit to implementing projects that test the pathways to decarbonisation and tackle challenges of transformation to ultimately become carbon neutral. All urban systems will be considered in the selection of Pilot Cities, including mobility, energy systems and built environment, material and resource flows, health and well-being, natural areas, cultural, social, financial and institutional systems, and accessible public spaces. A Pilot City may address all or a combination of these, depending on its context and the scope of the proposed pilot activities. 

Selected Pilot Cities will receive support through Mission Platform services provided by NZC Consortium or external expertise to address specific challenges. The NZC Mission Platform will also assist Pilot Cities in obtaining funding and financing for full implementation and subsequent replication and scaling efforts. 

The Pilot Cities will work as a test bed for innovation, which means that the solutions developed within the programme are meant to be scaled to other European locations and among other Pilots. Numerous activities will therefore be organised to promote learnings between the pilot cities, which is a key component of building capabilities, replicating successful innovations, and deepening relationships. A twinning programme will link each lead city with two or three twin cities from all EU Member States.  

The Pilot Cities programme will be implemented under the auspices of NetZeroCities, an EU Missions project that supports the European Green Deal in building a low-carbon, climate-resilient future through research and innovation. The four-year NZC project is coordinated by EIT Climate-KIC and supports 112 European cities in drastically reducing their greenhouse gas emissions to achieve climate neutrality. NetZeroCities consists of 33 partners from 27 European countries and will act as a platform tailored to cities’ sustainability needs and supported by climate practitioners. 

More information are available in the Call Guidelines and Guidebook. 

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