Inspiration from the Horizon

Inspiration from the EU Horizon Fund showing us what's possible when you mainstream applied, trans-disciplinary, ambitious research projects.

Inspiration from the Horizon
Photo by Nicole Avagliano / Unsplash

I've got some more posts in the works on Experimentation, Ecotones and more, but this week I'm feeling struck by the richness of some of the projects which are being funded by the EU Horizon Fund, and wanted to share these to expand our collective horizons for what is possible.

The common themes in these I'm seeing, other than their funding source are:

  • Participatory - creatively weaving participatory methods throughout
  • Ambitious - oriented for impact in their design and execution
  • Applied & Multi-place - an impressive dynamic of multiple contexts coming together with their own needs, cultures, challenges and opportunities, implementing change and sharing back results
  • Collaborative and Learning-centric - weaving together multiple stakeholders in collaborative experimentation and learning, translating insights and patterns into useful outputs as they go
  • Concatenated an quasi acronym-based names - Horizon seems to love a good acronym-based pun, and I am supportive of this funding strategy

So let's take a look at the projects...


CrAfT is placing the transition to climate neutrality at the heart of urban stakeholders.

CrAFt - Creating Actionable Futures
We believe in bringing together cities and their citizens, policymakers, arts and academia to jointly shape the transition to climate neutrality.

One thing I like about CrAfT:

As well as some lovely human interest storytelling (head to the Stories section), the CrAfT Cookbook is an excellent resource - part handbook, part impact explainer, part features and case studies. I love a quality output (I hesitate to say report) which feels usable, transferable, whilst also bringing to life the project itself.


CitiObs will consolidate and apply tools and practice-based knowledge for co-creating data, knowledge and local action via Citizen Observatories (COs).

Enhancing citizen observatories for sustainable cities - CitiObs
CitiObs in a nutshell CitiObs will consolidate and apply tools and practice-based knowledge for co-creating data, knowledge and local action via Citizen Observatories (COs): these tools will enhance existing and new citizen observatories to engage citizens and marginalised communities, add value to environmental observations in the urban context, increase and validate citizen observations of the

One thing I like about CitiObs:

I've been a fan of citizen science as a model for engaging and supporting participation, capability building and curiosity-awakening, and generally creating pathways for people to be involved in their towns and cities decision making, for awhile. CitiObs takes that to the next level - going beyond shallow CitSci activities like "1 day a year bird counts". I love the model which brings citizen science data into both Academia and Policy / Urban Decision Making. One of their first articles also tackled the thorny subject of equity, diversity, and power - kudos.


The project will tackle specific challenges related to sea levels, coastal erosion and extreme weather events using an integrated solution of smart technologies and nature-based solutions. 

Smart control of the climate resilience in European coastal cities - Score
SCORE is a four-year EU-funded project aimingto increase climate resilience in European coastal cities. Find out more on our website.

One thing I like about SCORE:

Other than having met a few of the SCORE team at the Open Living Lab Days conference in Barcelona and confirming that they're good folks, I like lots of things about SCORE - not least that they're tackling a challenging topic of climate adaptation, with a common data & evidence platform, and generating early warning systems for coastal locations and sharing how they're doing it openly. I do like SCORE's commitment to creating accessible learning content about the different aspects of what they do, such as Nature-based Solutions and utilising Low Cost Sensors.

Wrap Up

This is meant to be a quick and light post, sharing a little inspiration (and maybe a little fomo) from projects in Europe. I genuinely feel like Horizon Funding has changed the landscape of the types of research, education and trans-disciplinary projects that are "mainstream" over there now.

Having been involved in some projects which are doing / aspiring to do similar things based across Aotearoa NZ and Australia, I think we can take heart and inspiration from these types of projects - the type I think we need more of in the world.

For my Aotearoa NZ friends - this is your reminder that the Horizon Fund is open to NZ now too...

Disclaimer: I am aware my view of these projects is largely shaped from their external facing communications - websites, handbooks, social media and the likes. Everything I've shared is based on that. I'm sure on the inside, they may feel different, maybe less polished, less orderly at times.