Previously, euRobotics participated in Horizon 2020 activities as part of the SPARC partnership. This page explains the importance of robotics and the work of SPARC, which is useful background reading for anyone with an interest in the work of euRobotics in partnership with the European Commission prior to the creation of ADRA.


What is SPARC?

The Partnership for Robotics in Europe

Robotics has a tremendous impact

Robotics is on the verge of having a tremendous impact on the economy and our society.

Robots are known to save costs, to improve quality and working conditions, and to minimise resources and waste.

From today’s €22bn worldwide revenues, robotics industries are set to achieve annual sales of between €50bn and €62bn by 2020.

In the field of industrial robotics, which is currently growing at 8 % p.a., Europe’s share of the world market is about 32%. Here it will be important to find new applications outside the automotive sector.

Europe’s share in the world service robotics market currently stands at 63% which is the result of Europe’s excellence in interdisciplinary research in “intelligent robots” and a culture of cooperation between industry and academia.

However, the much larger impact comes from the effect robotics has upon the competitiveness of the manufacturing and service industries that use robotics systems and technologies, and upon the quality of life for citizens.

Industrial robots are not only good in the automotive industry. They have entered the food industry a few years ago. This example shows robots picking pretzels from a conveyor belt (Source: ABB)

A recent study by McKinsey estimates that the value of the application of advanced robotics in healthcare, manufacturing and services could have an annual economic impact of between $1.7 trillion and $4.5 trillion worldwide by 2025.

Largest civilian robotics programme

With €700M in funding from the Commission for 2014 – 2020, and triple that amount from European industry, SPARC is the largest civilian-funded robotics innovation programme in the world.

The Public-Private Partnership in Robotics is based on a contract between the European Commission and euRobotics AISB, signed by Commissions Vice-President Neelie Kroes and Bernd Liepert, President of euRobotics, on 17 Dec 2013.

Ensuring Leadership

SPARC is a Public-Private Partnership between the European Commission, and European industry and academia to facilitate the growth and empowerment of the robotics industry and value chain, from research through to production.

To maintain and extend Europe’s leadership and secure the economic and societal impact for Europe, the European Commission decided in 2012 to initiate the Public-Private Partnership in Robotics (SPARC) by building on Europe’s scientific excellence and its history of successful industries that have changed the world.

SPARC is a contractual Partnership of the European Commission and the European Robotics Community. euRobotics aisbl, a non-for-profit association according to Belgian law and with seat in Brussels was founded in September, 2012, to provide the European Robotics Community a legal entity to engage in a contract with the European Commission.

More than 250 member organisations from European industry and research, aiming at a strategic positioning of European robotics in the world and ensuring its benefits for European economy and society at large, bring in their expertise from industry, research and business.

euRobotics was founded on 17 Sep 2012 by 35 organisations. Now, euRobotics represents more than 250 companies, universities and research institutions, ranging from traditional industrial robotics manufacturers to producers of agricultural machinery and innovative hospitals.

euRobotics aisbl is accepting new member organisations representing all interested European stakeholders in robotics including end users, finance and professional bodies. euRobotics AISBL and its members are committed to SPARC being run as an open association with open calls under Horizon 2020.

A Roadmap for SPARC

Experts from euRobotics AISBL member organisations work in Topic Groups, advise on market domains which would bring maximum results in terms of economy and benefits for the society, and launch a multi-annual Roadmap (MAR).

Download the H2020 Robotics Multi-Annual Roadmap

Based on this roadmap, SPARC develops recommendations to the Commission for funding within the area of Robotics under Horizon 2020.

SPARC will stimulate an ever more vibrant and effective robotics community that collaborates in the successful development of technical transfer and commercial exploitation.

Download the SPARC brochure (June 2018)

SPARC in practice

How SPARC is used

Horizon2020 with new instruments to spur innovation

SPARC is the agent for implementing robotics strategy within Europe. Its purpose is to connect the science base to the marketplace, a connection that ultimately benefits society. Its vision is to attain a world-wide leading position in the robotics market across all domains.

Horizon 2020 is the eighth European Framework Programme. It places emphasis on innovation and the transfer of technology to the marketplace.


Monitoring the progress:

From this year on, the Periodic Monitoring report of SPARC is published.

Please find the report for 2017 here.


The following projects were funded under SPARC:

Call 2014: https://ec.europa.eu/digital-single-market/en/news/first-robotics-projects-h2020-starting

Call 2015: https://ec.europa.eu/digital-single-market/en/news/new-robotics-projects-2015-announced

Call 2016: 10-success-stories/new-horizon-2020-robotics-projects-2016.html?changelang=2, https://ec.europa.eu/programmes/horizon2020/en/news/new-horizon-2020-robotics-projects-2016

Call 2017: https://ec.europa.eu/digital-single-market/en/news/discover-new-h2020-robotics-projects-contributing-sparc-strategy

Call 2018: under evaluation, public information expected end of 2018

An overview which includes also other funding schemes can be found at https://ec.europa.eu/digital-single-market/en/programme-and-projects/project-factsheets-robotics


Horizon 2020 builds on the success of the seventh Framework Program (FP7) while attaching greater importance to innovation and wealth creation resulting from research. Robotics will continue to provide a strategic focus within Horizon 2020.

Horizon 2020 has a number of strategic objectives. For the robotics community these can be distilled into the following:

  • Strengthen the EU’s technical and scientific position.
  • Strengthen industrial leadership in innovation. This includes major investment in key technologies, greater access to capital and support for SMEs
  • Address major concerns shared by all Europeans such as; climate change, sustainable transport, affordable renewable energy, food safety and security, or coping with an ageing population.

At completion Framework 7 directly funded some 130 robotics based R&D&I projects involving around 500 organisations with total grants of some €536 million. Other funding with elements related to robotics amounts to some €170 million.

This unique level of investment has yielded a vibrant and active research community within Europe both in academia and industry. Europe therefore has a strong basis on which to innovate and create. The focus of Horizon 2020, biased closer to the market and encompassing innovation, will help to leverage this advantage for the Robotics community as new markets and service opportunities are created.

In particular the mechanisms for pre-competitive procurement of systems and services provide an exciting opportunity to showcase the potential of robotics technology to improve service delivery and provide a real advantage. The Horizon 2020 programme will introduce a number of specialised instruments to push innovation closer to market while at the same time stimulate dialogue between academics, producers and users of robotics technology.

Most notable of these will be Pre-Commercial Procurement (PcP), and the Public Procurement of Innovation (PPI) instruments. In addition a specialised Pilot Installations instrument will be created to enable longer term deployment of robotics systems into real environments to be tested. In order to aid the involvement of SMEs in Horizon 2020 a dedicated SME instrument will be implemented that focuses on the strengths of SMEs in the Research Development and Innovation process. This is particularly critical for the Robotics community given the high density of SMEs working at the lead edge of robotics technology. The success and growth of these companies will be critical for Europe to meet its key targets.

The European Commission (here: Berlaymont Building which serves as the Commission’s seat) is often claimed as too large and bureaucratic. The truth is that with 33,000 officers, the EC has less staff than many large cities in Europe. The officers responsible for robotics are dedicated to making SPARC a European success.

The Role of the European Commission (EC)

SPARC is the teaming up of the robotics industry, research, academia and the European Commission to launch a joint research, development and innovation programme in order to strengthen the competitive position of European robotics.
The basic aim of the PPP in robotics is to boost robotics research, development and innovation in Europe, by better connecting academia and industry. To do this, the EC will translate the research requirements of industry and academia into concrete work programmes and calls for proposals and organise a strategic dialogue with them on these matters. Doing so will mean that the research results of calls for proposals will be more relevant for these stakeholders.

SPARC is not a “Closed Shop”

SPARC is jointly run by the European Commission (representing the public side) and euRobotics AISBL, the association of the European robotics community which includes robotics manufacturers, component manufacturers, systems integrators, end users, trade fair organisers, venture capitalists, research institutes, universities. The public and private side meet regularly in a so-called Partnership Board where the joint strategy is discussed and decided. For reasons that funding from the Commission is generated as part of the legal framework of the European Union, the European Commission will remain responsible within European laws for issuing funding and will be the legal partner responsible for calls, evaluations, and the contractual agreements. SPARC is dedicated to ensure openness, transparency and fair representation of all stakeholders. It is important to note that SPARC is not laid out for a “closed shop”, but on the contrary will be open to new stakeholders having access to the activities organised and funded under this programme.

Information from the European Commission on Calls.


How to get there

The role of SPARC

In a technology based economy the role of public bodies is to develop and implement policy that supports the creation of a viable and relevant science base, while the role of private industry is to transform the resulting technical advantage into products and services thus creating wealth and economic growth.

SPARC embodies this symbiosis.

SPARC joins together the European Commission, on the public side, and euRobotics AISBL on the private side. Where euRobotics AISBL represents the interests of the robotics community in Europe, SPARC disseminates its intentions through delivery of the Strategic Research Agenda (SRA) supported by the multiannual roadmap (MAR), and the updating of these documents to reflect new developments and markets.

The Strategic Research Agenda is a compendium for SPARC’s operation 2014-2020.

The SPARC community constitutes the full spectrum of interest in robotics across Europe; On one side, the European Commission and, on the other, European researchers, industry and end users. euRobotics AISBL, led by industry, having equal representation from the industrial and research communities in its executive and a wide range of members also engages with end users and interested parties through associate membership.

The Roadmapping process developed in SPARC is a transparent and rational methodology to develop ontologies, criteria, and assessments of potentials, with technology and market inputs from Topic Groups and external experts. The outcome are recommendations to the Commissions for Calls, both in terms of targets and the most appropriate project types (instruments).


Strategic Research Agenda (SRA)

The Strategic Research Agenda (SRA) provides a high level strategic overview for the robotics community. It is also intended to act as an introduction to the European robotics community for non-robotic specialists, policy makers, entrepreneurs and industries intending to use or work within the robotics market.

Its companion document, the multi-annual Roadmap (MAR) is a more detailed technical guide identifying expected progress within the community and providing a detailed analysis of medium term research and innovation goals.

If you are a policy maker, investor, or entrepreneur trying to understand the robotics market in Europe you should read this document. It will give you an overview of the status and potential of robotics. Depending on your interests some parts of the companion document “Multi-annual Roadmap MAR”, particularly those relating to innovation and products, may provide a deeper insight.

If you are an innovator, technologist or researcher you may find the detail you are looking for in the “Multi-annual Roadmap MAR” document, and a higher level overview of robotics in Europe in this document.

Click here to download the last version of SRA


Multi-annual Roadmap (MAR)

The Multi-annual Roadmap (MAR) is a companion to the Strategic Research Agenda (SRA) providing a greater level of technical and market detail. Compared with the SRA, the MAR is a more detailed technical guide identifying expected progress within the community and providing a detailed analysis of medium term research and innovation goals. It is updated annually as priorities, technologies and strategic developments shape European research development and innovation (R&D&I). Robotics is a diverse field and the MAR relies on expert opinion in each domain and technical field to provide and verify the information within it. The annual review process examines each key technical and market area to ensure material is brought up to date.

The annual update process utilises the expertise within Topic Groups formed by euRobotics aisbl and seeks open consultation. You, the reader, are encouraged to engage with this process and to contribute your knowledge to the content of this document. It will then reflect and sustain a live discourse on the current state of robotics technology. The previous Wiki is no longer available, a new Wiki will be set up soon.

Download the H2020 Robotics Multi-Annual Roadmap ICT-2017.



Topic Groups (and how to join)

Experienced delegates from the euRobotics member organisations, supported by external experts, work in 25 Topic Groups. Topic Groups develop suggestions and have to undergo a scrutinised procedure to be matched with given criteria. The priorities for R&D&I funding, including near market activities, will be derived from the MAR as a part of the annual review cycle.

Topic Groups are initiated by members of euRobotics AISBL and coordinated by the Board of Directors. They can be:

  • Sector groups such as: industrial robotics, professional service robotics, domestic service robotics, security robotics, space robotics, medical and healthcare robotics, agricultural robotics;
  • Groups covering the supply chain such as: component suppliers, system integrators, service providers;
  • End user groups covering existing and new markets for robotic systems;
  • Technology-related groups as identified in strategic documents and roadmaps.

They identify gaps and challenges, describe the desired paths towards solutions, milestones to be reached at specified instants in time and with a specified quality. They identify Innovation Milestones, and mobilise members and non-members to realise them, and to support their subsequent exploitation. All activities span the full spectrum from basic research, to technological development, and concrete innovation, showing smooth paths of knowledge transfer along the covered spectrum, and identifying concrete actual and potential academia-industry cooperation. Topic Groups are the instrument to provide content to the Strategic Research Agenda (SRA) and the multiannual Roadmap (MAR) of euRobotics aisbl. Reader of the Multi-Annual Roadmap (MAR) are encouraged to engage with this process and to contribute your knowledge to the content of the document. It will then reflect and sustain a live discourse on the current state of robotics technology. You can do this by joining euRobotics and then contributing to the Topic Groups.

Recommendations to the Commission within the PPP consultation process

Robotics encompasses a broad spectrum of different technical disciplines and impacts on a wide range of market domains in diverse ways. The scope of R&D&I is driven by technology, the diversity of market sectors and the need to maintain the innovation pipelines that connect the two together. Any prioritisation of strategy must start by seeking to establish the linkage between improvements in technical capability and market need. This linkage and the corresponding technical requirements will be captured in the PPP roadmap.

The scope of R&D&I is also framed by the European societal challenges that can be addressed with robotics technology. Effective solutions will require the cohesive integration of a wide range of expertise combined with changes to societal and legal frameworks. The PPP has a role in ensuring that its strategy aligns with these challenges and maximises the impact of robotics technology as a potential solution. It is vital to Europe’s economic and societal interests that these impacts are maximised through an appropriate choice of R&D&I priorities. In setting priorities the PPP must take into account this long view of market maturation as well as the shorter time scale defined within Horizon 2020.

The MAR is the basis for developing in Partnership with the Commission content, the selection of instruments (types of projects), and priorities for Calls and actions in the field of robotics under H2020.

Robotics in Europe - Why is Robotics important?

Robotics technology influences every aspect of work and home. Robotics has the potential to positively transform lives and work practices, raise efficiency and safety levels and provide enhanced levels of service. Even more, robotics is set to become the driving technology underpinning a whole new generation of autonomous devices and cognitive artefacts that, through their learning capabilities, interact seamlessly with the world around them, and hence, provide the missing link between the digital and physical world.

Robotics is already the key driver of competitiveness and flexibility in large scale manufacturing industries. Without robotics many of Europe’s successful manufacturing industries would not be able to compete from their current European bases of operation. In these industries robotics already underpins employment. Increasingly robotics is becoming more relevant for smaller manufacturing industries which are central to Europe’s manufacturing and employment capacity.

By the same token, service robotics will show far more disruptive effects on the competitiveness of non-manufacturing industries such as agriculture, transport, healthcare, security and utilities. The growth in these areas over the coming decade will be much more dramatic. From what is currently a relatively low base, service robots used in non-manufacturing areas are expected to become the largest area of global robot sales.

Europe’s Position in Robotics

Europe starts from a strong position in robotics, having a 32% of current world markets. Industrial robotics has around one third of the world market, while in the smaller professional service robot market European manufacturers produce 63% of the non-military robots. The European position in the domestic and service robot market represents a market share of 14% and, due to its current size, this is also a much smaller area of economic activity in Europe than the other two areas.

Europe is strong in interdisciplinary research and team work along the value chain. One example is Bristol Robotics Laboratory (above: BRL’s energy storage lab for robots) which was called by David Willetts, UK Minister for Universities and Science, as a “unique collaboration that harnesses the collective strengths of its university partners, and brings together the best expertise from industry and the academic community to spearhead Britain’s efforts to be a world leader in modern advanced robotics”. Europe has several dozens of those robotics laboratories, often garnered with several spin-off companies in their neighbourhood.

In terms of scientific standing in robotics, Europe also has a strong world position. European diversity in science supports multi-disciplinary domains such as robotics, which in turn relies on a variety of fundamental domains and is thus to a large extent the science of integrating a broad spectrum of technologies. Europe is particularly strong in technologies such as cooperating robots and ambient intelligence; speech and haptics-based human-machine interface; safety; actuation (without gears); grippers and dextrous hands; locomotion (without bipedal locomotion); materials science and engineering; navigation and collision avoidance; motion and task planning; control of arms and vehicles; learning; modelling for control (kinematics and dynamics), biomimetics, bionics, and cybernetics.

In terms of social sciences, the use of robotics in society raises many ethical and societal issues as well as legal ones. Europe has managed to lead the worldwide debate in this area and it is important that ethical, legal, and social (“ELS”) investigations should be at the forefront of considerations regarding the deployment and use of robotics in the wider European society.

The need for European action

In a globally competitive environment, Europe is not only competing against low-wage economies, but also highly automated economies and as the decade progresses robotics usage will increase around the world. In the competitiveness, productivity and sustainability battle, leadership in robotics technology will be the key differentiator.

Robotics markets are evolving quickly and robotics will be a key source of competitive advantage and a means for tackling societal challenges and to excel in science. To maintain and build its position, Europe needs to take concerted action. European-wide action is required to take advantage of regional and national strengths in the core multi-disciplinary competencies of robotics and build critical mass, particularly with regard to efficient supply chains that will be vital for the delivery of cost-effective products and services.

Estimates on the world robotics market developments and reachable European market shares. The effects of SPARC are noticeable in a significant uplift of the European market share (plus 14%) and a resulting additional turnover of approximately €44bn (cumulated over years 2014-2020). Growth rates and market shares are cumulated for the entire robotics domain from industrial, professional (without defence-related applications) and domestic service robotics.

European Success Stories in Robotics

Europe is rich of many success stories in Robotics: from the sector of industrial robots which was and still is the backbone of automation, to professional service robots in agriculture, logistics, underwater, in the air, providing maintenance, inspection, manipulation, and many other jobs to improve productivity, safety, security, and health.

Robotics Projects funded by Horizon2020

The EU-funded Horizon2020 projects represent a wide variety of research and innovation themes: from healthcare, transportation, industrial and agri-food robotics and inspection to search and rescue robotics. Some deal with complex safety matters on the frontier where robots meet people, to ensure that no one comes to harm. Others will create a sustainable ecosystem in the robotics community, setting up common platforms supporting robotics development. There are also collaborative projects on robotics competitions, while others deal with Ethics, Legal, Societal and Economy as well as benchmarking and standardisation,

The research and innovation projects focus on a wide variety of capabilities, such as navigation, human-robot interaction, recognition, cognition and handling. Many of these abilities can be transferable to other fields as well, benefitting Europe’s citizens and economy.

  • HORSE  (1/11/2015 – 30/04/2020)           
  • ReconCell (1/11/2015 – 31/10/2018)      
  • Flourish (1/03/2015 – 31/08/2018)          
  • SWEEPER (inb – 31/10/2018)      
  • SecondHands (1/05/2015 – 30/04/2020)
  • AEROARMS (1/06/2015 – 31/05/2019)
  • RoMaNS (1/05/2015 – 30/04/2018)         
  • CogIMon (1/02/2015 – 31/01/2019)        
  • COMANOID (1/01/2015 – 31/12/2018)  
  • CENTAURO (1/04/2015 – 30/09/2018)   
  • WiMUST (1/02/2015 – 31/01/2018)        
  • RobDREAM (1/02/2015 – 31/01/2018)   
  • EurEyeCase (1/01/2015 – 31/12/2017)  
  • SoMa (1/05/2015 – 30/04/2019)
  • FLOBOT (1/01/2015 – 30/06/2018)          
  • SARAFun (1/03/2015 – 28/02/2018)        
  • RETRAINER (1/01/2015 – 31/12/2018)
  • AEROWORKS (1/01/2015 – 31/12/2017)               
  • SmokeBot (1/01/2015 – 30/06/2018)      
  • ColRobot (1/02/2016 – 31/01/2019)       
  • RAMPup (1/01/2016 – 31/12/2019)        
  • SafeLog (1/01/2016 – 31/12/2019)          
  • Bots2ReC (1/02/2016 – 31/07/2019)       
  • BabyRobot (1/01/2016 – 31/12/2018)    
  • MuMMER (1/03/2016 – 29/02/2020)      
  • EndoVESPA (1/12/2015 – 30/11/2018)   
  • MURAB (1/01/2016 – 31/12/2019)          
  • INPUT (1/02/2016 – 31/01/2020)             
  • SPEXOR (1/01/2016 – 31/12/2019)          
  • ROBOTT-NET (1/01/2016 – 31/12/2019)               
  • SoftPro (1/03/2016 – 29/02/2020)           
  • RockEU2 (1/02/2016 – 31/08/2018)        
  • TrimBot2020 (1/01/2016 – 31/12/2019)               
  • DeTOP (1/03/2016 – 29/02/2020)            
  • EDEN2020 (1/04/2016 – 31/03/2020)     
  • AEROBI (1/12/2015 – 30/11/2018)           
  • UP-Drive (1/01/2016 – 31/12/2019)        
  • XoSoft (1/02/2016 – 31/01/2019)             
  • An.Dy (1/01/2017 – 31/12/2020)
  • MEMMO (1/01/2018 – 31/12/2021)        
  • AirBorne (1/01/2018 – 31/12/2020)        
  • BADGER (1/01/2017 – 31/12/2019)         
  • micro-ROS (1/01/2018 – 31/12/2020)     
  • PICKPLACE (1/01/2018   – 31/12/2020)   
  • SheaRIOS (1/01/2018 – 31/12/2020)       
  • SPIRIT (1/01/2018 – 28/02/2021)              
  • MyLeg (1/01/2018 – 31/12/2021)             
  • HYFLIERS (1/01/2018 – 31/12/2021)        
  • HEPHAESTUS (1/01/2017 – 30/06/2020)               
  • VERSATILE (1/01/2017 – 31/12/2019)     
  • CROWDBOT (1/01/2018 – 30/06/2021)  
  • CYBERLEGs Plus Plus (1/01/2017 – 31/12/2020) 
  • Co4Robots (1/01/2017 – 31/12/2019)    
  • ROPOD (1/01/2017 – 31/12/2019)           
  • REFILLS (1/01/2017 – 30/06/2020)           
  • MoveCare (1/01/2017 – 31/12/2019)     
  • ROSIN (1/01/2017 – 31/12/2020)             
  • ILIAD (1/01/2017 – 31/12/2020)               
  • MULTIDRONE (1/01/2017 – 31/12/2019)
  • IMAGINE (1/01/2017 – 31/12/2020)        
  • SMARTsurg (1/01/2017 – 31/12/2019)   
  • RobMoSys (1/01/2017 – 31/12/2020)     
  • Dreams4Cars (1/01/2017 – 31/12/2019)               
  • THING (1/01/2018 – 31/03/2021)             
  • FABULOS (1/01/2018 – 31/12/2020)       
  • ESMERA (1/01/2018 – 28/02/2022)         
  • RobotUnion (1/01/2018 – 31/12/2020)  
  • SARAS (1/01/2018 – 31/12/2020)             
  • EUROBENCH (1/01/2018 – 31/12/2021) 
  • COVR (1/01/2018 – 31/12/2021)
  • INBOTS (1/01/2018 – 31/12/2020)
  • SciRoc (1/02/2018 – 31/01/2022)
  • REELER (1/01/2017 – 31/12/2019)
  • VineScout (1/12/2016 – 30/11/2019)
  • ECHORD Plus Plus

As of 09/07/2018

Success Stories

Legged robotic systems

Legged robotic systems

Detecting methane leakages on landfills

Detecting methane leakages on landfills

Autonomous navigation makes logistics smart

Autonomous navigation makes logistics smart

Autonomous unloading by RobLog

Autonomous unloading by RobLog

Giving robotics a hand

Giving robotics a hand

Aerial robotics for the society

Aerial robotics for the society

“Neuro-inspired” autonomous service robot for better air quality

“Neuro-inspired” autonomous service robot for better air quality

Collaboration between robot and human worker

Collaboration between robot and human worker

SPARC in the press

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