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HORIZON 2020 (2014-2020)


Horizon 2020, the EU's €77 billion research and innovation funding programme, supports scientific excellence in Europe and has contributed to high-profile scientific breakthroughs such as the discovery of exoplanets and gravitational waves. Over the next 3 years, the Commission will seek greater impact of its research funding by focusing on fewer, but critical topics such as migration, security, climate, clean energy and digital economy. Horizon 2020 will also be more geared towards boosting breakthrough, market-creating innovation.


The structure of HORIZON 2020 is arranged into three focal points :

I: 'Excellent Science' as an academically driven focus consists of the following:

  • European Research Council: awards individual grants to excellent junior and established researchers with groundbreaking project ideas.
  • Future and Emerging Technologies (FET): awards grants in three funding schemes to research networks in order to explore innovative ideas.
  • Marie Skłodowska-Curie Measures: fosters the mobility of junior researchers.
  • Research Infrastructures: integrates existing research infrastructures, thereby enabling more transnational access (use of installations by researchers from various countries) and promotes the construction of research installations and facilities of pan-European interest.

II. 'Industrial Leadership' as an industry-driven focus consists of the following:

  • Fundamental and industrial technologies, including key technologies: grant money for research and innovation in areas especially relevant to industrial competitiveness. The following topics are part of this: information and communication technologies, nanotechnologies, advanced materials, biotechnology, advanced manufacturing and processing, space.
  • Risk financing: consists of credit facilities and venture capital in order to generate funds for high-risk research and innovation projects that possibly could never bring in investments otherwise.
  • Innovation in SMEs: targeted funding of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) along the entire innovation chain, including feasibility studies, funding of research and demonstration, and support for the follow-up phase.

III. 'Societal Challenges' as a politically driven focus consists of seven challenges. Interdisciplinary solutions for comprehensive problems that individual countries cannot solve should be found. The challenges are as follows:

  • Health, demographic change, and well-being.
  • Challenges for the European bio-economy: nutrition and food security; sustainable land and forest use; marine, maritime, and limnological research.
  • Secure, clean, and efficient energy.
  • Smart, green, and integrated transport.
  • Climate action, resource efficiency, and raw materials.
  • Secure societies - protecting the freedom and security of Europe and its citizens.

Further parts of HORIZON 2020 include the following:

  • Expansion of excellence and widening participation for targeted measures to pursue political cohesion goals.
  • Science with and for society as a continuation of the program "Science in Society" of the 7th EU Framework Programme, for increasing the acceptance of science.
  • European Innovation Council: Between 2018 and 2020, the Commission will mobilise €2.7 billion from Horizon 2020 to support high-risk, high-gain innovation to create the markets of the future.
  • The European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), which dovetails the scientific triangle (academic education, research, and innovation).
  • The non-nuclear, direct measures of the Joint Research Center (JRC).

Focusing on political priorities

The 2018-2020 Work Programme will focus efforts on fewer topics with bigger budgets, directly supporting the Commission's political priorities:

  • A low-carbon, climate resilient future: €3.3 billion
  • Circular Economy: €1 billion
  • Digitising and transforming European industry and services: €1.7 billion
  • Security Union: €1 billion
  • Migration: €200 million

€2.2 billion will be earmarked for clean energy projects in four interrelated areas: renewables, energy efficient buildings, electro-mobility and storage solutions, including €200 million to support the development and production in Europe of the next generation of electric batteries.


Reviewer Activities

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