A cura di MIUR - Direzione Generale per il coordinamento la promozione e la valorizzazione della ricerca

Horizon 2020

What is H2020 

Horizon 2020 (H2020) is the European Union (EU) Framework Programme for Research and Innovation for 2014-2020. The 7-year Framework Programmes are the key tool used by the European Union (EU) to fund research in Europe.

Horizon 2020 unifies in a single financial tool three predecessors (2007-2013) aimed at supporting research, innovation and technological development: the Seventh Framework Programme (7FP), Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP) and the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT). Work on Horizon 2020 started in 2011, when the EU heads of State and Government invited the European Commission, running from 2014 to 2020, to integrate the different tools to support research and innovation into a single shared strategic framework. The Commission started a wide consultation process involving all the main players in research which resulted into Horizon 2020.

Purpose and context
Europe 2020: priorities and objectivesEurope 2020: priorities and objectivesThe purpose of Horizon 2020 is to support research and innovation: which is one of the five main objectives of Europe 2020, the European Union growth strategy for 2010-2020. In line with this strategy, Horizon 2020 aims at developing a society based on knowledge and innovation and addressed to the important priorities suggested by the European Agency for 2020: a smart, sustainable and inclusive growth.

Seen as a means to drive economic growth and create new jobs, Horizon 2020 is the main financing tool to strengthen the European Research Area – an open space where researchers, scientific knowledge and technologies can freely circulate – as well as implement the Innovation Union, the flagship initiative aimed at ensuring Europe’s competitiveness, by encouraging the setting up of partnerships for innovation, enhancing research initiatives as well as simplifying administrative procedures to access financing funds.

Priorities and objectives
Horizon 2020 is built around three priorities, or “pillars”, each including specific objectives: Excellent Science, Industrial Leadership and Societal Challenges. 

+ Excellent Science

This priority is aimed at reinforcing and extending the European excellence in basic science of the European Union. It is built around four specific objectives:

  • European Research Council (ERC), to encourage frontier research in Europe by supporting individual talented researchers and their teams;
  • Future and Emerging Technologies (FETs), to support collaborative research on radically new advanced technologies and high-risk innovative ideas that can revolutionize the productive system;
  • Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions, to strengthen skills, training and career development of researchers by encouraging cross-border and cross-sector mobility;
  • Research infrastructures, to strengthen European research infrastructures, including e-infrastructures, by providing value to their innovative potential and human capital.
+ Industrial Leadership

This priority is aimed at accelerating technological development and to help innovative small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to grow in an international context. It is built around three specific objectives:

  • Leadership in enabling and industrial technologies, to boost Europe's industrial leadership through research, technological development, demonstration and innovation in enabling technologies, including information and communication technologies (ITC), nanotechnologies, advanced materials, biotechnology, advanced manufacturing and processing and space.
  • Access to risk finance, to support enterprises in enhancing, through specific financing tools – including loans and guarantees – access to risk finance to invest in research and innovation.
  • Innovation in SMEs, to encourage different types of innovation in small- and medium-sized enterprises, in particular those with high growth and internationalization potential, by encouraging the creation of an ecosystem favourable for SME growth.
+ Societal challanges

This priority is aimed at addressing future social issues. It is built around seven challenges:

  • Health, demographic change and wellbeing, to improve the lifelong health and well-being of all;
  • Food security, sustainable agriculture and forestry, marine, maritime and inland water research, and thebioeconomy, to secure sufficient supplies of safe, healthy and high quality food by developing sustainable and efficient production systems;
  • Secure, clean and efficient energy, to make the transition to a reliable, affordable, publicly accepted, sustainable and competitive energy system;
  • Smart, green and integrated transport,to achieve a European transport system that is resource-efficient, climate- and environmentally-friendly and safe;
  • Climate action, environment, resource efficiency and raw materials, to achieve a resource- and water-efficient and climate change resilient economy and society;
  • Europe in a changing world ̶ inclusive, innovative and reflective societies, to foster a greater understanding of ongoing changes and providing solutions for a sustainable growth at the social and economic levels;
  • Secure societies  ̶ protecting freedom and security of Europe and its citizens,to foster secure European societies and to address global threats, while strengthening the European culture of freedom and justice.
+ Additional actions

Moreover, H2020 provides funds for the following actions:

  • Spreading excellence and widening participation, to ensure that the benefits of an innovation-led economy are maximised and widely distributed across the European Union;
  • Science with and for the society, with the objective of building effective cooperation between science and society, recruiting new talent for science and pairing scientific excellence with social awareness and responsibility;
  • Cross activities, concerning industry for 2020 in circular economy, Internet of Things, smart and sustainable cities;
  • Fast-track for innovation, a pilot initiative focused on the promotion of innovation activities that are near the market;
  • European Institute for innovation and technology, to support the EU organization with the same name to promote Europe’s competitiveness;
  • Euratom, within the complementary programme for research and education in the field of nuclear energy;
  • Cyber-physical systems, with the purpose of enhancing information technology systems that interact with the physical content where they operate.
 

Main features

Horizon 2020 budgetHorizon 2020 budget

Horizon 2020 is worth nearly 80 billion euro over seven years. The overall amount is higher than 30% compared with the previous programme. Among the main novelties of Horizon 2020, there are simplified rules for participation for universities, companies and bodies as well as a greater focus on the challenges that society will have to address in the next few years, including healthcare, green energy and sustainable transports.
A special attention is drawn to a number of cross issues concerning all the priorities including for example: gender equality in careers and research activity; contribution to cooperation between European Union and its international partners; innovation valorisation; role of social sciences and humanities in addressing a number of societal challenges; support in the implementation of the European Research Area and the Innovation Union.

Beneficiaries
Participation to the programme is open to different types of organizations and individuals from the European Union Member States or countries associated with the programme, for example universities o research institutes, individual researchers at early-stage or mid-stage career, research teams, national, regional or local public or state bodies, non-profit organizations and associations, industries, small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) or teams of enterprises.

Management

The funding opportunities available under Horizon 2020 are defined through multiannual work programmes, prepared by the European Commission based within the legislative framework of Horizon 2020 for the strategic programming aimed to integrate EU policies and established priorities. The funds, centrally managed by the European Commission or executive agencies, are assigned through calls for proposals, that organizations or individuals working in the field of research and innovation can apply to. Project proposals are evaluated by a panel of independent experts who select the projects to receive funding.
The selected projects are co-funded by the European Union and by applicants. For research and development projects, the UE share can be as high as 100% of the total admissible costs; for innovation projects70% of the costs, except for non-profit organizations that can receive up to 100% of the total eligible costs. Reimbursement of indirect eligible costs is a flat rate of 25% of direct costs.

How to participate

Applications for a call for proposals shall be submitted on the Participant Portal, no later than the deadline specified in the calls. A number of calls request the participation of several partners: by the participant portal, it is possible to look for and to identify potential partners with specific skills and experience.
After the deadline is expired, all proposals are evaluated by a panel of independent experts, based on specific criteria, including excellence, impact and implementation.
The evaluation phase, that usually lasts five months, ends with the ranking of the proposals selected to receive funding, information of the selection outcome to applicants and the signature of a grant agreement between the European Commission and subjects selected to receive funding. The agreement specifies, besides the rights and obligations, the research and innovation activities to be implemented, the project duration, the costs and the European Commission contribution.

Further information
To obtain advice on the Framework Programme and its calls for proposals, prospective participants can get in touch with their National Contact Point (NCP), which offers candidates advice and support on EU funding for research. In Italy the role of NCP is carried out by APRE (Agency for the Promotion of European Research). 

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