General structure of new Horizon Europe programme

The European Union has been investing in research and technological development for years. The basis for these innovation grants is laid down in the EU’s Framework Programme for Research and Innovation. The multi-year programme for the period 2021-2027 is called Horizon Europe (successor of Horizon 2020) and lays a new foundation for all European grants for innovations and R&D activities.

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When does Horizon Europe start?

On Tuesday 2 February the European Commission launched the new Horizon Europe programme. The programme has a budget of over 95 billion euros for research and innovation in the European Union and Associated Countries for the period 2021-2027. The launch was particularly symbolic, as the Commission is expected to publish the first Work Programmes – containing the planned calls for grants for the first two years of Horizon Europe – in May 2021.

What is the structure of Horizon Europe?

The Horizon Europe programme for the period 2021-2027 will have a three-pillar structure. We list them for you together with the final budgets:

  • Pillar 1 ‚Excellent Science‘ (budget: €25.011 billion) consists of the following components with associated sub-budgets:
    • European Research Council (€16.003 billion)
    • Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (€6.602 billion)
    • Research infrastructures (€2.406 billion)
  • Pillar 2 ‚Global Challenges and European Industrial Competitiveness‘ (budget: €53.516 billion) consists of the following components:
    • Cluster ‚Health‘ (€8.246 billion)
    • Cluster „Culture, Creativity and Inclusive Society“ (€2.280 billion)
    • Cluster „Civil Security for Society“ (€1.596 billion)
    • Cluster „Digital, Industry and Space“ (€15.349 billion)
    • Cluster „Climate, Energy and Mobility“ (€15.123 billion)
    • Cluster „Food, Bioeconomy, Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environment“ (€8.952 billion)
    • Joint Research Centre (EUR 1.970 billion)
  • Pillar 3 ‚Innovative Europe‘ (budget: €13.598 billion) consists of the following components:
    • European Innovation Council (€10.105 billion): this includes the popular EIC Accelerator programme (already published)
    • European Innovation Ecosystems (€0.528 billion)
    • European Institute of Innovation and Technology (€2.965 billion)
    • ‚Widening participation and Strengthening the European Research Area‘ (budget: €3.393 billion) consists of the following components:
    • ‚widening participation and spreading excellence‘ (€2.955 billion)
    • ‚reforming and enhancing the European R&I System‘ (€0.438 billion).

HORIZON EUROPE: NEW FRAMEWORK FOR EUROPEAN FUNDING OF R&D PROJECTS

Five missions

In addition to the three pillars, the new Horizon Europe also has five specifically identified missions that form an integral part of the programme. These research and innovation missions aim to provide solutions to some of the major challenges the world is facing. Each mission is a mandate to solve a pressing challenge in society within a given time frame and budget.

The five missions with some of their targets for 2030 are:

  • Adaptation to climate change, including societal transformation: preparing Europe to tackle climate disruption
  • Cancer: saving more than three million lives, living longer and better, understanding cancer in depth
  • Healthy oceans, seas, coastal and inland waters: cleaning up sea and freshwater, restoring degraded ecosystems and habitats
  • Climate neutral and smart cities: supporting 100 European cities and demonstrating a systematic transformation towards climate neutrality by 2030
  • Soil health and food: at least 75% of all soils in the EU are healthy for food, people, nature and climate.

What do we know about the content?

The Horizon Europe Programme is not yet final. At the moment there are so-called drafts circulating that still need to be finalised. Most programmes are already very detailed and pay extra attention to the COVID-19 crisis. What we already know:

Cluster ‚Health‘

Themes are: staying healthy in a rapidly changing society; living and working in a health-promoting environment; combating disease and reducing the burden of disease; ensuring access to innovative, sustainable and high-quality health care; harnessing the full potential of new tools, technologies and digital solutions for a healthy society; maintaining an innovative, sustainable and globally competitive health industry.

Cluster ‘Culture, Creativity and Inclusive Society’

Themes are: enhancing democratic governance and citizens participation; safeguarding and promoting European cultural heritage and the cultural and creative industuries; shaping multifaceted social, economic, technological and cultural transformations; mobilising multidisciplinary expertise of European social sciences and humanities; providing evidence-based policy options for a socially just and inclusive European recovery;

Cluster ‚Civil security for society’

Themes are: fighting crime and terrorism; border management; infrastructure protection; cyber security; a disaster resilient society for Europe; supporting security research and innovation.

Cluster ’Digital, Industry and Space’

Themes include: climate neutral, circular and digitised manufacturing; a digitised, resource efficient and resilient industry; world leading data and computing technologies; digital and emerging technologies for competitiveness and Green Deal suitability; strategic autonomy in the development, deployment and use of global space infrastructures, services, applications and data; human-centred and ethical development of digital and industrial technologies.

Cluster ‚Climate, Energy and Mobility’

Themes include: climate science and response; cross-sectoral solutions (including ‚competitive and sustainable European battery value chain‘ and ’smart and sustainable communities and cities‘); sustainable, secure and competitive energy supply; efficient, sustainable and inclusive energy use; clean and competitive solutions for all transport modes; safe and resilient transport and smart mobility services for passengers and freight.

Cluster ‚Food, Bioeconomy, Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environment’

Themes are: biodiversity and ecosystem services; fair, healthy and environmentally friendly food systems from primary production to consumption; circular economy and bioeconomy; clean environment and non-pollution; land, oceans and water for climate action; resilient, inclusive, healthy and green rural, coastal and urban communities; resilient, inclusive, healthy and innovative governance, environmental monitoring and digital solutions in support of the Green Deal.

Horizon Europe implementation

The Horizon Europe funding schemes remain broadly the same as that of Horizon 2020. Thus, grants will continue to be available for the following project categories (‚actions‘):

  • Research and Innovation Action (RIA): funding of research projects to address clearly defined challenges that can lead to the development of new knowledge or a new technology (funding rate of 100%).
  • Innovation Action (IA): funding is more focused on activities that are closer to the market. For example, prototyping; testing, demonstrating and scaling up of products or services if these are aimed at producing new or improved products or services (funding rate of 70%, expect for non-profit legal entities, where a funding rate of 100% applies).
  • Coordination and Support Action (CSA): funding covers the coordination and networking of research and innovation projects, programmes and policies (funding rate of 100%).

However, other parts of the new programme contain important changes compared to Horizon 2020, such as new Work Programme structures, the use of simplified cost forms, new modalities for the submission and evaluation of proposals and a new Grant Agreement.

Which organisations are eligible for Horizon Europe funding?

The Horizon Europe Programme is open to all types of organisations from EU Member States or Associated Countries. From SMEs, universities and research organisations to large companies. However, the bar is set high and only the best (read: highly innovative) projects will receive funding. Moreover, many calls require the cooperation of at least three parties from three different EU Member States or Associated Countries. With its extensive European network, PNO will be pleased to help you find additional partners for your project consortium.

Want to know more?

We closely follow the developments within Horizon Europe and inform you as soon as new developments occur. With almost one thousand projects submitted and a success rate of more than twice the market average in Horizon 2020, we are glad to be of service again in the Horizon Europe programme. Do you have any questions about Horizon Europe or want to know more about a specific theme? Contact our experts directly at telehone number or send us a message.

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