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Horizon 2020

Horizon 2020 combines research and innovation funding as supported under Framework Programme 7 and the innovation related activities of the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme and the European Institute of Innovation and Technology.

Running from 1 January 2014 until 31 December 2020, it is the EU’s main funding programme for research and innovation, as part of the EU’s drive to create new growth, competitiveness and jobs across Europe. It will support (interdisciplinary) collaboration, as well as individual projects and the mobility of researchers. 

This seven year programme has a total budget of €70.2 billion and involves three pillars:

Pillar 1: Excellent Science

This Pillar involves four funding schemes to support excellent researchers and is largely for ‘bottom-up’ funding for individual researchers or teams. The schemes include:

European Research Council (ERC) provides funds for bottom-up, researcher-driven projects on any topic, in any discipline for the most talented and creative individual researchers (of any nationality and age), and their teams, to carry out frontier research of the highest quality, and in particular research introducing unconventional and innovative approaches.

The Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) is a fund for the mobility, training and career development in academia, industry and other non-academic sectors through individual mobility grants and projects.

Future Emerging Technologies (FET) is a fund for collaborative ‘high risk’ research under three different streams to include: FET Open; FET Proactive; and FET Flagships.

Research infrastructures provides funds for e-infrastructures and researchers’ access to infrastructures.

Pillar 2: Industrial leadership 

This is probably the most industry and innovation focused part of Horizon 2020 with funding opportunities for applied research, especially under the Key Enabling Technologies (KETs). The aim is to accelerate the development of new technologies that will underpin future business and economic growth. 

There is also funding for so-called ‘contractual Public-Private Partnerships’ (PPPs), involving a range of topics with a strong focus on industry and market relevance. The Schemes include:

Leadership in enabling and industrial technologies, for applied research, with a strong interaction with industry, especially under the Key Enabling Technologies (KETs, including ICT, Nanotechnologies, Advanced Materials, Biotechnology, Advanced Manufacturing and Processing and for research and innovation in the area of Space);

Risk finance

Innovation in SMEs 

Pillar 3: Societal challenges 

Research and innovation funding under Pillar 3 addresses seven ‘societal challenges’, identified in Europe 2020 policy strategy, as major concerns shared by all Europeans. Activities that have been funded will require breakthrough solutions that must have the necessary scale and scope and represent economic opportunities. 

This Pillar will involve collaborative projects (usually, a minimum of three legal entities from three EU Member States/Associated States), that followa more top-down approach. Pillar 3 will require a broader approach in terms of disciplines and probably the inclusion of different stakeholders.  The seven challenges are:

  • health, demographic change and wellbeing
  • food security, sustainable agriculture, marine and maritime research and the bio-economy
  • secure, clean and efficient energy
  • smart, green and integrated transport
  • climate action, resource efficiency and raw materials
  • europe in a changing world - Inclusive, innovative and reflective societies
  • secure societies - protecting freedom and security of Europe and its citizens

Priorities for funding and call topics are published in Horizon 2020 (H2020) work programmes covering the 3 pillars. The current H2020 work programmes cover 2016-17 and are accessed through the European Research Participant Portal.

H2020 Scoping Papers for 2018-2020 are now published and outline the main priorities for the last three years of each part of H2020, and will form the basis of the work programmes.

The H2020 work programmes for 2018-2020 are expected to be published in October 2017.

Some early draft versions (for internal circulation only) are available upon request to Queen Mary University of London’s EU Unit.

The European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) will be separate from the three main pillars and will include Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs), which are likely to form a different structure with three main calls.

Horizon 2020 provides major simplification through a single set of rules.  In particular, research activities are reimbursed at 100% of a project’s direct eligible costs, and there is a flat rate for indirect costs of 25%. For close-to- market activities, called ‘innovation actions’, the reimbursement rate is 70%. However, universities, not-for- profit organisations and research institutes will still be able to claim 100%.

For further information and regular updates on Horizon 2020, call documentation and funding call announcements, please visit the European Research Participant Portal.

funding i-calendar linked to outlook can be downloaded under Calls and Call updates from a link here.

Horizon 2020 reference documents (to support pre- and post-award activity) can be found here.

Please contact the EU Team for more information on Horizon 2020 and to discuss your proposals. 

Please also subscribe to the UK Research Office (UKRO), as the European office of the UK Research Councils to receive daily alerts on EU funding news and opportunities and website access for comprehensive information on EU policy, funding programmes and events. 

Other European funding schemes

In addition to Horizon 2020, there are other European funding programmes running during the period 2014 – 2020 that may be relevant to your area of research and activity.  An indicative list is attached [PDF 154KB]

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