All you need to know on Horizon 2020

Horizon 2020 will be officially up and running from 1 January 2014!

Background. When drafting the EU's strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth and jobs - Europe 2020 - Europe's leaders gave a prominent role to research and innovation. They pledged to take action in 30 areas to ensure Europe produces world-class science, removes obstacles to innovation and makes it easier for the public and private sectors to work together in delivering an 'Innovation Union'. Horizon 2020 will help hit these targets with its emphasis on excellent science, competitive industry and tackling societal challenges.

Three pillars. Horizon 2020 is designed to boost growth and jobs and improve people's lives. It is built around three main pillars:

  1. Excellent Science: Supporting the best ideas, developing talent within Europe, providing researchers with access to priority research infrastructure, and making Europe an attractive location for the world's best researchers.
  2. Industrial Leadership: Investing in key industrial technologies, maximising the growth potential of European companies by providing them with adequate levels of finance, and helping innovative SMEs to grow into world-leading companies.
  3. Societal Challenges: Funding will be channelled into finding solutions for challenges such as health, demographic change and wellbeing; food security, sustainable agriculture, marine and maritime research and the bioeconomy; secure, clean and efficient energy; smart, green and integrated transport; climate action, resource efficiency and raw materials; and inclusive, innovative and secure societies.


What will change with Horizon 2020? Horizon 2020 will bring together all strands of Union research and innovation funding, including Horizon 2020, plus the innovation activities of the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme and the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT).

The novelties within Horizon 2020 can be summarised as:

  1. A simpler programme architecture to reduce the average time to grant by 100 days;
  2. An inclusive approach, open to new participants;
  3. Tighter integration of research and innovation, providing seamless and coherent funding from idea to market;
  4. More support for innovation and activities close to the market;
  5. A strong focus on creating business opportunities;
  6. More opportunities for EU novices and young, promising scientists to put forward their ideas and obtain funding.


Key figures on the Horizon 2020 budget

  • Horizon 2020 is the biggest ever EU funding programme with €70.2 billion for 2014 to 2020.
  • The headline objective is to increase spending on R&D to 3% of Growth Domestic Product (GDP) by 2020.
  • 60% of the total Horizon 2020 budget will support sustainable development.
  • 35% of the Horizon 2020 budget will allocated to climate-related research.
  • 15% of the total combined budget for projects tackling societal challenges and supporting enabling and industrial technologies will go to SMEs.
  • Joint Technology Initiatives (JTIs) are expected to mobilise a total investment of over €17 billion.

The importance of public-private partnerships (PPPs). One of the key aspects of Horizon 2020 is to promote public-private partnerships. PPPs have the potential to:

  • provide a legal structure to pool resources,
  • address complex challenges as they help develop interdisciplinary approaches,
  • facilitate the creation of an internal market for innovative products and services.

PPPs have been created in the following areas: Factories of the Future, Energy-efficient Buildings, Green Vehicles, Future Internet, Sustainable Process Industry, Robotics, Photonics and High Performance Computing.

Current legislative framework

To come:

  • October 2013 to January 2014: Launch of Horizon 2020 - national events.
  • November-December 2013: Horizon 2020 should be adopted by the Council.
  • 11 December 2013: Adoption of work programme and publication of first calls for proposals.

More information on Horizon 2020 available here.

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