Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to present and discuss the contribution of European Commission (EC) initiatives to stimulate cultural heritage research over the last 20 years and the contribution of the research results to cultural heritage management and sustainable development. Design/methodology/approach – From a brief introduction to the EC initiatives related to cultural heritage, the paper continues with an overview of the research projects so far funded by EC Framework Programmes. It includes the main conclusions and recommendations reached during the NET-HERITAGE conference last March, in support to the debate on the existing gaps, and to suggest ways forward, which can be useful to research institutes as well as other funding organizations. Findings – Although the EC should be commended for its substantial contribution to the field of cultural heritage research over the last 20 years, it is the first, however, to acknowledge that this is just the beginning and that much more needs to be done in order to help ensure sustainability and the consequent transmission of the European cultural legacy to future generations, at both regional and national levels. Originality/value – In providing an overview of EC-funded cultural heritage research, the paper is useful to the readers of the journal, who might consider obtaining EC funding and so stimulate their participation in future funding schemes and related projects. It highlights some potential areas for research and continues to scientifically underpin that cultural heritage research can help increasing competitiveness in Europe and beyond.
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