Just the Facts – Horizon 2020

What is Horizon 2020?
Horizon 2020 is the biggest EU funding programme for science and innovation ever undertaken.  Aiming to ensure Europe’s competitiveness in research and innovation in the future, from 2014-2020 €79 billion will be invested as part of a programme that seeks make it easier for great ideas to be turned into products and services that will lead to economic growth and jobs in Europe.

It is hoped that the Horizon 2020 programme will oversee the formation of a single market for knowledge, research and innovation in Europe, to be known as the European Research Area.  The programme will not only cover research in the scientific sectors, but also aims to fund projects that will contribute to Europe’s industrial and societal development.

Horizon 2020 was officially launched by Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, Maire Geoghegan Quinn, in Cyprus on 16 January 2014 and represents a 30% increase in funding for the areas of science and technology in the EU in real terms compared to its predecessor, the 7th Framework Programme for Research known as  (FP7).  To date, Irish participants have drawn down €572 million from FP7 and they are on course to hit the €600 million draw down target.

In order to simplify the application process the Horizon 2020 programme is divided up into 12 sections.  The largest of these sections are as follows:

  • Excellent Science

The Excellent Science section aims to increase and strengthen the base of Europe’s scientific research capabilities by creating a series of new bodies.  The European Research Council will provide funding to individual teams working on scientific projects.

The emergence of powerful new technologies are a priority for the overall Horizon 2020 programme.  To this end, the Future and Emerging Technologies (FET) aspect of Horizon 2020 has been awarded funding of €2.7 billion.  Some 40% of this budget will go to the FET-Open research funding scheme which supports cutting edge sciences and unconventional collaboration as part of this Excellent Science section.

  • Industrial Leadership

The Industrial Leadership section of the Horizon 2020 programme aims to develop the technologies that will be driving business in the future and ensuring that European SMEs are the leaders in the fields of nanotechnology, ICT, biotechnology and advanced manufacturing, among others.

  • Societal Challenges

Horizon 2020 is not just related to scientific and technological fields, but seeks to address more of the concerns of European citizens.  A focus on health services and healthy aging are part of this section of the Horizon 2020 programme and the testing of new systems and technologies for the treatment and support of the elderly are a key element of this work.  New technology for the creation of clean energy and reducing Europe’s carbon footprint will be given support, as well as the development of a smart, Europe-wide electricity grid and many other projects.

How to Access Funding
The Commission’s online participant portal is the first port of call for those who wish to apply for funding under Horizon 2020.  There you can view the questions that the EU would like you to address in your proposal.

The initial stage of the application process involves submitting your proposal to the participation portal, where it will be reviewed and considered by an expert panel.  From there, “Calls” will be issued.  A Call is when a specific sector of research is identified and chosen as one that will be funded, eg cell research.  If you receive a Call from the participant portal, you are now free to submit an application in that area.  You can also find partners to work with, as many of the Calls require a partnership of three or more scientific institutions such as universities or companies.  Calls will be issued annually until 2020 with varying application and proposal deadlines.

Once the proposal has been submitted, a panel of expert judges will assess which proposals will ultimately receive funding under the Horizon 2020 programe.  After the 5 month consultation process is complete, those receiving funding will be informed and a grant agreement drawn up.

For more information on the application process and Horizon 2020 in general, simply follow the links below:


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