AI, Drones, Technology EU Funding | Ewropa Consultancy

Of All Things Digital: EU Funding Opportunities for 5G, AI, IoT and Drones

Authors: Gayle Kimberley & Nina Fauser

Amidst the panic caused by the COVID-19 outbreak, whilst many industries have been hit drastically, the tech ecosystem in Europe hasn’t stopped making headlines. Several tech start-ups across Europe have made interesting updates such as the next-generation delivery drones from Germany, the UK and other countries.

..And the EU is taking note. A €672.5 billion Resilience and Recovery Facility will be the key recovery instrument at the heart of NextGenerationEU which will help the EU emerge stronger and more resilient from the current crisis. The Facility will provide an unprecedented €672.5 billion of loans and grants in frontloaded financial support for the crucial first years of the recovery.

One of the main aims of the Next Generation EU is the acceleration of the green and digital transitions. The EU Commission is set on strengthening the Single Market and adapting it to the digital age through the following measures:

  • Investing in more and better connectivity, especially in the rapid deployment of 5G networks;
  • A stronger industrial and technological presence in strategic sectors, including artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, supercomputing and cloud;
  • Building a real data economy as a motor for innovation and job creation;
  • Increased cyber resilience.

5G networks

The rapid large-scale adoption of the 5G mobile networks is urgently needed not only for faster Internet connectivity, but also for the development of emerging technologies. Based on the Commission’s own telling, the delays in 5G uptake have slowed both Europe’s economic digitalization and its adoption of greener practices.

5G will be one of the most critical building blocks of our digital economy and society in the next decade. 5G will provide virtually ubiquitous, ultra-high bandwidth, and low latency “connectivity” not only to individual users but also to connected objects serving a wide range of applications and sectors including professional uses (e.g. Connected Automated MobilityeHealth, energy management, possibly safety applications, etc).

Funding opportunities for 5G

EU investment in 5G research and standards is necessary to support the traffic volume expected by 2025 but also to boost networks and Internet architectures in emerging areas such as Machine-to-Machine (M2M) communication and the Internet of Things (IoT). The EU has acknowledged this and we are expecting the announcement of concrete funding opportunities to aid the rapid deployment of 5G imminently.

AI, IoT and Drones

The twin transition, apart from digitalisation, also focuses on the ‘green’ aspects. To halve emissions by 2030, we need to maximise technologies at different levels of development.

While we have already seen efficiency gains in cloud computing, first-generation industrial automation and 3G and 4G mobile networks, it is now time to ramp this up with 5G, AI, IoT and drones, which all depend on connectivity and open up completely new opportunities.

The EU has started on the journey of adopting the right policy frameworks and strong climate leadership, so that these technologies can concretely move society towards a circular and lean economy, focused on growing service value while reducing waste and pollution. In this respect the Communication from the Commission dated 27th May 2020 on ‘Europe’s moment: Repair and Prepare for the Next Generation makes an interesting read.

EU Funding Opportunities?

The EU will also need a stronger industrial and technological presence in strategic parts of the digital supply chain. Recovery investment will be channeled towards strategic digital capacities and capabilities, including artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, secured communication, data and cloud infrastructure, 5G and 6G networks, supercomputers, quantum and blockchain.

This will be a priority in the Recovery and Resilience Facility, InvestEU and the Strategic Investment Facility. The investment guidelines for the new Solvency Support Instrument will also reflect the need to prioritise digital investments. This will also help to bridge Europe’s digital divide, which has become even more apparent during the crisis.


In order to benefit from the Recovery and Resilience Facility, Member States should submit their draft recovery and resilience plans outlining national investment and reform agendas in line with the aforementioned EU policy criteria. These plans should also enable Member States to meet the green and digital transitions.

We expect Member States to include in their plans investment and reforms in the following flagship areas:

  1. Power up – The frontloading of future-proof clean technologies and acceleration of the development and use of renewables.
  2. Renovate – The improvement of energy efficiency of public and private buildings.
  3. Recharge and Refuel – The promotion of future-proof clean technologies to accelerate the use of sustainable, accessible and smart transport, charging and refuelling stations and extension of public transport.
  4. Connect – The fast rollout of rapid broadband services to all regions and households, including fiber and 5G networks.
  5. Modernise – The digitalisation of public administration and services, including judicial and healthcare systems.
  6. Scale-up – The increase in European industrial data cloud capacities and the development of the most powerful, cutting edge, and sustainable processors..
  7. Reskill and upskill – The adaptation of education systems to support digital skills and educational and vocational training for all ages.

The Facility is expected to become operational as of 1 January 2021 once it is adopted by the European Parliament and Council. Following this, Member States will have until 30 April 2021 to submit their individual Recovery and Resilience plans, although many have already submitted their preliminary draft plans to the EU Commission.

We also expect Member States to engage as soon as possible in a broad policy dialogue with all relevant stakeholders on a national level to prepare their recovery and resilience plans.

Please keep checking Ewropa’s website and LinkedIn or Facebook pages for further announcements on concrete calls for funding opportunities in the tech industry. If you already have a project which you think can contribute to the twin green and digital transition, contact us on  and we will help you identify the right funding opportunity for your project.

Ewropa will assess your project, identify the appropriate funding opportunity and even help you find partners in other Member States. Ewropa’s team will take care of carrying out all necessary research, liaising with external bodies and implementing the application process from A-Z.