Horizon 2020

The Horizon 2020 (H2020) Framework Programme for Research and Innovation is the European Commission’s main mechanism for funding research and innovation.

It is a seven year (2014-2020), €80bn programme that offers grants through open and competitive calls for a variety of activities from individual fellowships to large scale, multi-partner research.

H2020 is the first EU programme to integrate research and innovation (R&I) into a single framework and, unlike its predecessors, contains mechanisms to exploit research results to ensure their uptake into society.

H2020 is based around 3 main ‘pillars’ to cover the full R&I process:

  1. Excellent Science: Bottom-up, researcher led projects
  2. Industrial Leadership: Collaborative projects led by industrial needs
  3. Societal Challenges: Collaborative projects led by societal (policy) needs

Infographic showing the three pillars of the Horizon2020 funcding scheme - Excellent Science, Industrial Leadership and Societal Challenges

What schemes could you apply for?

For each H2020 schemes, funding opportunities are set out in multiple annual Work Programmes, which are advertised through calls for proposals on the EU Funding Opportunities and Tenders Portal. The current and final Work Programmes run for the year 2018-2020.

Calls for proposals support different types of research projects at different development stages throughout the R&I cycle, such as:

  • fellowships
  • collaborative projects
  • accompanying measures aiming to support research and innovation (eg networks, dissemination activities)

Calls for proposals can have a ‘bottom up’ approach (investigator-driven topics) or a ‘top-down’ approach (priority topics defined by the EC).

Please click the drop-down menu below to find out more about the main main schemes under each pillar and the type of funding they provide.

Pillar I Excellent Science

European Research Council (ERC) Grants

  • Bottom-up calls
  • Funds individual fellow with a team
  • Frontier, ‘high-risk, high-gain’ research
  • Any fields/topics, mainly standard and applied research

FET open & FET Proactive

  • Multi-disciplinary collaboration on new and future technologies
  • Fostering radically new, high-risk ideas and solutions, accelerating development of emerging areas in science and technology
  • Funds the early stages of research & innovation (FET open) or helps develop ‘new research communities’ in emerging novel areas that are not yet ready for inclusion in industry research roadmaps (FET Proactive)

Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions

Marie Skłodowska-Curie – Individual Fellowships (IF)

  • Bottom-up calls
  • Fund fellowships (involved moving or having recently moved to another country)
  • Any career stage, for early career or experienced researchers
  • Any fields of research, mainly standard and applied research.
  • Focus is on career, training and skills development in academia, industry and other non-academic sectors

Marie Skłodowska-Curie – Innovative Training Networks (ITN)

  • Fund doctoral level research training networks/ joint doctoral programmes
  • Any fields/topics of research

Marie Skłodowska-Curie – Research and Innovation staff exchange programmes (RISE)

  • Exchange programmes

Pillar II Industrial Leadership

Industrial Challenges: Leadership in Enabling and Industrial Technologies (LEIT)

  • Industry-oriented funding schemes with a range of topics with strong industry and market relevance focus
  • Top-down calls
  • Funds collaborative projects with strong involvement of industry and SMEs
  • Funds all stages of research and innovation, from concept to market; and accompanying measures
  • Fund new and emerging science and technology in the fields of ICT, nanotechnology, advanced materials, biotechnology, advanced manufacturing and processing and space
  • Focus on key enabling technologies (KETs)

Pillar III Societal Challenges

Watch this YouTube video on Horizon 2020 – how to apply.