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The European Commission today announced how it will spend the last and biggest annual tranche - €11 billion - of the EU research and innovation funding programme Horizon 2020 in the final year of the programme.

Horizon 2020, the EU's €77 billion research and innovation funding programme for the period 2014-2020, supports scientific excellence in Europe and has contributed to high-profile scientific breakthroughs such as the discovery of exoplanets, first images of a black hole and development of advanced vaccines for diseases such as Ebola.

Today the Commission announced the budget plan for the year 2020 for Horizon 2020. Over the next year, the Commission will seek greater impact of its research funding by focusing on fewer, but crucial, topics such as climate change, clean energy, plastics, cybersecurity and the digital economy. It will also be geared towards shaping the future research and innovation landscape by preparing the way for Horizon Europe, the next framework programme (2021-2027). An important novelty under Horizon Europe will be the European Innovation Council – a one-stop-shop for innovation funding to turn science into new business and accelerate the scale-up of companies. The European Innovation Council is already running in its pilot phase and will in 2020 benefit from a budget of €1.2 billion.

Carlos Moedas, Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, said:

Horizon 2020 is generating new knowledge and technologies, and has a strong economic impact. For every 100 euro we invest through Horizon 2020, we expect to add 850 euro to our GDP by 2030, creating millions of jobs for Europeans. That is why we have proposed €100 billion for the next Horizon Europe programme, to boost the EU's competitiveness, innovation capacities and scientific excellence.

Focusing on political priorities

This Work Programme will support the budget for 2018-2020 and the Commission’s political priorities, in the following areas:

  • A low-carbon, climate resilient future: €3.7 billion
  • Circular economy: €1 billion
  • Digitising and transforming European industry and services: €1.8 billion
  • Security Union: €1 billion

In 2020, €206 million is earmarked for projects to transform sectors that are traditionally energy intensive into competitive, low-carbon and circular industries and to significantly lower their environmental footprint. €132 million will support the development and production in Europe of the next generation of batteries, as part of the drive towards a low-carbon, climate-resilient future. Ten new topics on plastics with a total budget of €135 million contribute in different ways to the EU Plastics Strategy. Artificial intelligence, which is at the core of today’s most promising breakthroughs, has a budget of €396 million and €116 million is earmarked for developing new capabilities for fighting and preventing cybercrime.

Boosting 'blue sky' research

At the same time, Horizon 2020 will continue to fund "curiosity-driven science" (often referred to as "blue sky science" or "frontier research"). The annual Work Programme of the European Research Council for 2020, adopted today, will enable support for excellent researchers with over €2.2 billion. Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions, which fund fellowships for researchers at all stages of their careers, receive a boost with over €1 billion in total.

Enhancing international cooperation

This last Work Programme also strengthens international cooperation in research and innovation. It will invest over €550 million in 2020 in cooperation flagships in areas of mutual benefit. Examples include working with Africa on global health, food and nutrition security, with the US Canada and Japan on clean energy, and with China on food production, biotech, energy, natural resources and urbanisation.

Bridging to Horizon Europe

Since the beginning of its mandate, the Juncker Commission has been working hard to give Europe's many innovative entrepreneurs every opportunity to thrive. The Commission launched the first phase of the European Innovation Council, to turn Europe's scientific discoveries into businesses that can scale up faster. The EIC Accelerator pilotannounced in March will test a grant and equity blended financing model, paving the way for a fully-fledged European Innovation Council in the next EU research and innovation framework programme, Horizon Europe.

In anticipation of the expected structure and content of Horizon Europe, €209 million brings together actions on food and natural resources. Co-creating methods and approaches are being tested through cross-cutting calls on interdisciplinary challenges such as Competitive, Low Carbon and Circular Industries. To trial ways of simplifying participants’ experience, the use of Lump-sum pilots will be further expanded throughout the work programme.  In addition, policy areas with increased prominence in the Horizon Europe proposal are addressed, such as smart buildings and airports, and the microbiome.

EU funded research has contributed to major discoveries like exoplanets, the Higgs boson and gravitational waves, first images of a black hole and at least 17 Nobel Prize winners received EU research funding prior or after their award (see factsheet on R&I success stories).

As of June 2019, Horizon 2020 has provided companies, in particular SMEs, with access to risk finance worth €19 264 million under the EU finance for innovators scheme (InnovFin). It has funded more than 24 500 grants in total to the tune of €42.8 billion, of which almost €7.1 billion went to SMEs. Over 5 000 ERC Principal Investigators in host organisations and over 45 000 fellows under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions will receive almost €8.8 billion and €4.3 billion respectively.

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