Success rates Horizon Europe rise sharply

The average success rate of a Horizon Europe application has increased by more than a third compared to Horizon 2020. This is according to recent statistics from the European Union. Good news, as this was a key objective of the new programme. In this article, we list some of the facts for you.

Horizon Europe success rate rises sharply

Horizon Europe launched with a total budget of 95.5 billion EUR in June 2021. This includes the 5.4 billion EUR from the Next Generation Europe instrument, mainly to support green and digital recovery after the COVID crisis. With the programme now more than two years underway, it is time for a mid-term review. The good news is that the latest statistics (May 2023) from the European Union show that the average success rate of a Horizon Europe application has increased by more than a third compared to Horizon 2020! It is now 15.9%. Although many good proposals are still rejected (seven out of 10), the situation is better than for Horizon 2020, where the success rate was 11.9%.

Key data for 2021-2022

We list for you some other key data from the past two years of Horizon Europe:

  • 16.3 billion EUR of EU contribution has been allocated through grants so far.
  • In total, there are 5,509 signed grants in 2021-2022.
  • An additional 34.3 billion EUR would have been needed to fund all high-quality proposals.
  • 82% of funding goes to collaborative projects with an average of 12 participants.
  • There are 39,079 participants from 14,182 different organisations from 142 countries.
  • The average grant size is 3 million EUR (was 1.9 million EUR under Horizon 2020). This is an increase of almost 58%!

What else stands out

The quality of proposals in Horizon Europe has improved compared to Horizon 2020, with external experts rating 54% of the proposals as ‘high quality’ compared to 46% in the previous programme. This is an increase of over 17.4%. Most applications come from higher education institutions (39%), followed by (SME) companies (29%, compared to 17% under Horizon 2020). Research organisations come third with 20% of applications, half their share under Horizon 2020 (40.2%).

NB The statistics do not reflect all Horizon 2020 percentages.

Applications by organization type Horizon Europe Horizon 2020 Horizon Europe Horizon 2020
Higher education 39% ?
(SME) companies 29% 17%
Research organizations 20% 40,2%
Other 7% ?
Public authorities 5% ?

Higher education dominates in Horizon Europe

Higher education institutions remain in first place in terms of EU funding received (5.3 billion EUR), followed by private non-profit organisations (4.9 billion EUR) and research organisations (4.4 billion EUR). The share of funding by organisation type is very similar to what we saw in Horizon 2020, with a slight decrease for higher education institutions in favour of research organisations and (SME) companies. More than a third of Horizon Europe beneficiaries are newcomers. They receive 9% of Horizon Europe funding and mainly represent industry and public bodies that did not participate in Horizon 2020.

Organisation type EU contribution
Higher education 5.3 billion euro
Private not-for-profit organisations 4.9 billion euro
Research organisations 4.4 billion euro


SME participation remains stable

SME participation in Horizon Europe has remained fairly stable compared to Horizon 2020. SMEs represent about one-fifth of participations and EU funding in Horizon Europe projects. 7,395 SMEs participated in Horizon Europe projects (19% of all projects), accounting for a total EU contribution of 2.9 billion EUR (18% of all EU funding) at the end of 2022. 4,617 unique SMEs participate in at least one project. If current trends continue, SMEs in Horizon Europe will receive more than 15 billion EUR by 2027.

Applying for Horizon Europe?

All statistics notwithstanding, submitting a successful Horizon Europe grant application still hinges on good preparation. Do you have innovation plans or ideas for a Horizon Europe proposal? PNO’s experts will be happy to help you develop them, find consortium partners, and submit an optimal application. You will also find valuable information in the Horizon Europe magazine. Call +32 (0)2 613 31 10 or send a message.