The EU's 8th Research Framework Programme (FP) is called «Horizon 2020» and will run from 2014 to 2020. Compared to the previous generations of FP, Horizon 2020 significantly streamlines organisational aspects by placing all EU programmes and initiatives relating to research and innovation under a single roof. Horizon 2020 covers three policy priorities, which will be used to structure European research activities.
The 8th EU Research Framework Programme «Horizon 2020» is intended to bring about the «Innovation Union», a key objective in the EU's «Europe 2020» policy strategy for the coming years. The aim is to encourage innovative research ideas and their implementation in the form of marketable products and services. This should lead to greater European competitiveness, employment and prosperity. As a result, Horizon 2020 covers nearly the entire value added chain from fundamental research through applied research all the way to technological development. It mainly consists of three policy priorities. Information about currently open calls and funding opportunities can be found on the EU's participant portal.
The first priority «Excellent Science» is intended to raise the level of excellence of fundamental research in Europe. The European Research Council (ERC) will provide support to the most talented and creative individuals and their teams so that they may conduct frontier research. At the same time, the already well-established «Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions» will continue to offer training and mobility prospects to young researchers, thereby helping to maintain a highly qualified research community in Europe.
In addition, the Future and Emerging Technologies (FET) initiative will provide funding for interdisciplinary collaborative research in new and promising research fields. Funding will also be provided to ensure that world-class research infrastructures remain accessible to all researchers both in and outside of Europe.
The second priority «Industrial Leadership» focuses on R&D expenditure in key industrial fields such as information and communication technologies, nanotechnologies, innovative materials, biotechnology, advanced manufacturing and processing as well as space technology. Here the beneficiaries should themselves be deeply involved in the planning of these support activities. Moreover, Horizon 2020 will provide innovative companies with access to risk finance. Specifically, financial measures will be taken in support of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to help them become leading and competitive market participants.
The third priority «Societal Challenges» builds on the policy priorities of the Europe 2020 Strategy. The aim is to find solutions to issues that are of common concern to citizens in Europe and around the world and that can only be addressed through cooperation and the pooling of knowledge from different research fields, including humanities and social science. The following seven challenges will be addressed:
- Health, demographic change and wellbeing;
- Food security, sustainable agriculture and forestry, marine and maritime and inland water research, and the bioeconomy;
- Secure, clean and efficient energy;
- Smart, green and integrated transport;
- Climate action, environment, resource efficiency and raw materials;
- Europe in a changing world - inclusive, innovative and reflective societies;
- Secure societies - protecting freedom and security of Europe and its citizens.
In addition to Horizon 2020, funding will be provided for direct measures taken by the European Commission's Joint Research Centre and the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT). Funding will also be provided for portions of the Competitiveness of Enterprises and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) programme (COSME, formerly CIP) and for measures to be taken under the Euratom Programme in the areas of fusion research, nuclear fission and radiation protection.
A comprehensive research budget
For the period running from 2014 to 2020, the European Union proposes a budget of around EUR 81.6 billion, i.e. an average of nearly EUR 12 billion each year. This is over one and a half times the budget set aside for the 7th Research Framework Programme. Specifically, funding will be allocated as follows:
The increase in funding with respect to previous programme generations is a reflection of the importance of research in efforts to make Europe the world's most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy. Knowledge, technology and innovation are Europe's main strengths and the foundation for growth and employment. Horizon 2020 should have a leveraging effect on national research expenditure, helping EU member states to achieve the long strived for 3% GDP target for research expenditure.
Agreement (PDF, 442 kB, 29.01.2015)for scientific and technological cooperation between the European Union and European Atomic Energy Community and the Swiss Confederation associating the Swiss Confederation to Horizon 2020 — the Framework Programme for Research and Innovation and the Research and Training Programme of the European Atomic Energy Community complementing Horizon 2020, and regulating the Swiss Confederation's participation in the ITER activities carried out by Fusion for Energy