Horizon 2020 (soon Horizon Europe)

Horizon 2020 is Europe’s most significant research and innovation program, with nearly €80 billion available for funding (2014 – 2020). For 2021-2027, it will be taken over by Horizon Europe, the most ambitious programme ever implemented to address the ills of society, with €95.5 billion available.

What is Horizon 2020?

Horizon 2020 is the financial instrument implementing the Innovation Union, a Europe 2020 flagship initiative aimed at securing Europe’s global competitiveness.

Seen as a means to drive economic growth and create jobs, Horizon 2020 is backed by the support of Europe’s leaders and the Members of the European Parliament. They agreed that research is an investment for our common future and so put it at the heart of the EU’s blueprint for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth and jobs.

By coupling research and innovation, Horizon 2020 is helping to achieve this with its emphasis on excellent science, industrial leadership and tackling societal challenges. The goal is to ensure Europe produces world-class science, removes barriers to innovation and makes it easier for the public and private sectors to work together in delivering innovation.

The EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation will be complemented by further measures to complete and further develop the European Research Area. These measures will aim at breaking down barriers to create a genuine single market for knowledge, research and innovation.

“Horizon Europe will have simpler rules, cutting red tape for beneficiaries”

European Commission

What will come after Horizon 2020?

The EU is investing substantial resources towards alleviating common problems facing its citizens: human resources, industrial modernization, infrastructure, and inter-regional collaboration. Horizon Europe is the most ambitious programme ever implemented to address the ills of society. Within the long-term budget 2021-2027 the Programme will receive €95.5 billion.

Horizon Europe Strategy

The areas of funding priorities, partnerships, and missions of Horizon Europe will be set in line with the strategic planning approach and will take the form of a multiannual strategy. The European Comission stresses the importance of the planning to remain flexible in order to respond quickly to unexpected crisis or substantiated policy demands.

Thus, work has been ongoing on Horizon Europe’s Implementation Strategy, which presents the framework for carefully designed rules and effective processes throughout the life cycle of the programme and project. As the European Commission claims the Strategy focusses on the following objectives:

  • Maximising impacts
  • Ensuring greater transparency and further simplification
  • Fostering synergies with other EU spending programmes
  • Easing access through digital transformation and outreach

Horizon Europe mission

Unlike Horizon 2020, Horizon Europe is very mission-oriented: it clearly sets specific objectives connected with the key societal challenges in every project portfolio. The missions should be completed using a bottom-up approach.

There are five mission areas aimed to address some of the world’s biggest challenges:

Horizon Europe Budget

The budget will be approx. €95.5 billion for 2021-2027.

This includes €5.4 billion from Next Generation EU to foster recovery and make the EU more resilient for the future, as well as an additional reinforcement of €4.5 billion. The Horizon Europe budget is increased by 30% compared to Horizon 2020 and is it the most ambitious research and innovation programme ever created in the world.

Structure of the Programme

Horizon Europe supports an inclusive structure that widens collaboration and enhances research and innovation systems throughout the continent. The three pillars support the creation and diffusion of excellent knowledge, expected outcomes, including expanding access to research, improving economic opportunity, and innovating collaborative processes.

Mission boards will propose and implement specific objectives, relating to areas of expertise, such as cancer prevention, climate change, and food resources. These proposals encourage engagement from citizens to ensure alignment with EU priorities. The overall impact will bridge the gap between citizens and the innovations that affect their daily lives.

Researchers expect to resolve global challenges and improve conditions worldwide by targeting ground-breaking initiatives. Sustainable goals will address societal needs, as outlined in the proposal. Regional innovations will also benefit Europe’s innovation ecosystems to ensure advantages for its citizens in technology, economics, science, and health.

3 + 1 pillars of Horizon Europe

Excellent Science

This pillar supports researchers through fellowships, exchanges, and funding the projects defined and driven by researchers themselves. The pillar operates within European Research Council, Marie-Skłodowska-Curie Actions, and Research Infrastructures.

Global Challenges & Industrial Competitiveness

This pillar fosters directly research related to societal challenges around issues that worry us daily, such as health, climate change, clean energy, mobility, security, digital, materials, etc. For that the Joint Research Centre provides EU with independent scientific evidence and technical support. Within this pillar and throughout the programme as a whole the industrial leadership is supposed to get prominent.

Innovative Europe

Innovative Europe is a new pillar which aims to make Europe a front runner in market-creating innovation. A new funding body, the European Innovation Council offers a one-stop shop for high potential and breakthrough technologies and innovative companies. The pillar includes as well the activities of European Innovation Ecosystems and European Institute of Innovation and Technology.

Widening Participation and Strengthening the European Research Area

The fourth pillar supports European Member States in developing their national research and innovation capacities. A special focus is put on encouraging countries that perform lower in research and innovation to succeed in Horizon Europe.

Due to the corona pandemic, calls for Horizon Europe have been postponed to mid-2021. 
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