Horizon Europe

Horizon Europe Logo

  • As part of the Brexit deal it was agreed that the UK will participate in Horizon Europe as an Associated Country (access on the same terms as an EU Member State). The terms of association have already been agreed, meaning that association just needs to be formalised.
  • In the meantime, the UK has full rights to participate in Horizon Europe (HEu) calls – both as coordinator & partner. This includes any calls published before the signature of the association agreement. UK eligibility to Horizon Europe is therefore not affected and applications are actively encouraged. The current issue is the source of funding for UK partners rather than the eligibility of it.
  • The UK’s priority remains Association to Horizon Europe but this has not been completed due to the European Commission embroiling Horizon Europe within other post-Brexit issues.
  • Horizon Europe Calls can be consulted on the Funding and Tenders portal.
  • Please consult our Events page to view:
    – the latest events relating to EU funding and Horizon Europe. Events are added regularly as and when they are announced.
    – the slides and recordings of past events the EU Team has run (Past events & slides can also be consulted on our EU Funding@Leeds Stream Channel).
  • Please contact us for any queries you may have on UK Association to Horizon Europe, Horizon Europe schemes/ Work Programmes or the support you can receive from our Team.

Update on UK Association to Horizon Europe – *as of 21 October 2022*

‘Around two-thirds of Horizon Europe calls are open to UK researchers and companies as Third Country applicants, as part of consortia with at least 3 other applicants from EU member states or associated countries, provided they bring their own funding. As this is a priority for businesses and researchers, the government will fund all eligible UK entities participating in any such consortia signing grant agreements before 31 March 2025. The government will consider our approach to funding for Third Country Participation beyond this date and make an announcement by October 2024’.

What is Horizon Europe?

The Horizon Europe Framework Programme is the European Commission’s (EC) main mechanism for funding research & innovation.

It is a seven year programme (2021-2027) that offers grants through open and competitive calls. With a budget of €95.5 billion, it funds a variety of activities: from individual fellowships to large scale, multi-partner research.

The programme succeeds to the Horizon 2020 programme (2014-2020).

About the Programme

Please click the drop-down menu below to find out more about the Programme including UK participation.

UK to Become an Associated Country

Following the entry into force of the Brexit deal on 1 May 2020, the UK is fully permitted to participate in Horizon Europe as an Associated Country, except for the EIC Fund.

The UK should soon formally associate to Horizon Europe. In the meantime, the UK can participate in calls launched before the signature of the Association Agreement.

The Brexit deal (formally called ‘trade and cooperation agreement’) sets out arrangements for the UK’s participation in Union programmes (Part Five) for the period 2021-2027. Draft Protocol I of the Joint Declaration on Participation in Union Programmes and Access to Programme Services states that the UK is fully permitted to participate in Horizon Europe. The only part of Horizon Europe not accessible is the European Innovation Council (EIC) Fund. The EIC Fund falls:

  • under the EIC Accelerator programme, formerly the SME Instrument.
  • provides financial support to SMEs through the European Investment Bank
UK Participation in other EU Programmes & Activities

In addition, the Draft Protocol also states that the UK may participate in a certain number of programmes and activities. A list of them can be consulted on our Post Brexit Environment and UK Association.

UK Association - Timeline

The UK and the EU should soon sign an Association Agreement. This is so the UK can officially become an Associated Country to Horizon Europe.

However there has been some delay in the UK signing this Association Agreement with the EU. This is due to (unrelated) political aspects of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (i.e dispute over the Northern Ireland Protocol).

This delay has led to some uncertainty for the UK research community. To provide reassurance, the UK first announced a funding guarantee on 29 November 2021, which was extended on 15 March 2022. To further support the R&I sector affected by Horizon Europe delays, the UK government announced on 20 July 2022 a new package of transitional measures and long-term alternative (‘Plan B’ in case of non-association).

Initially covering any awards signed off before the end of 2022, the UKRI Guarantee Fund has now been extended to ensure that there is no gap and that no eligible successful applications go unfunded. This guarantee will continue to cover budget of successful Horizon Europe projects until formal Association.

Please note the UK’s priority remains association to Horizon Europe. The guarantee is a short-term measure until the EU formalises the UK’s association.

In case of non-Association, the UK Government has also released information on a series of transitional, short-term measures and long-term replacement schemes (Plan B).

For further information on UK Association, please consult:

UK allowed to take part in Horizon Europe Calls before Formal Association

The UK has full rights to participate in the calls for Horizon Europe as soon as they are published on the portal, as both coordinator and partner.

Even if association agreements are not ratified yet, a clause in the Horizon Europe Work Programmes allow applicants from third countries negotiating association to Horizon Europe to participate in the first calls for proposals.

The EC published Q&A document on UK participation in Horizon Europe which confirmed the UK is able to take part in Horizon Europe calls, before UK association is signed.

This document addresses some of the most frequently asked questions such as:

  • How will the UK be associated to Horizon Europe?
  • Can UK entities take part in the first calls for proposals of Horizon Europe?
  • What parts of Horizon Europe will the UK be associated to?
  • What are the rights of UK participants?
  • What does the UK have to pay to participate in Horizon Europe?
  • Will other countries associate to Horizon Europe?
UK Participation in Horizon Europe – Partner Information Sheet

Consult our Partner Information sheet on UK Participation in Horizon Europe.

This information sheet:

  • details how the UK will continue to participate in virtually the whole of Horizon Europe;
  • can be shared with potential partners who may wish to collaborate with us on EU bids.

Notables Changes compared to H2020

The tagline for the programme has been “evolution not revolution”. As a result, there are plenty of similarities with H2020.

Both Horizon Europe and Horizon 2020 consist of three pillars, as well as horizontal actions.

Visual structure Horizon 2020 vs Horizon Europe

Global Challenges and European Industrial Competitiveness

This Pillar essentially combines Pillars 2 and 3 from H2020 (LEIT and Societal Challenges) into a single pillar comprising six clusters, based on UN Sustainable Development Goals.

There will be a mix of top-down, policy-based topics (as with H2020) and a ‘mission-oriented approach’ where a grand challenge is set that invites potential solutions from consortia.

Five mission areas have been identified, each with a dedicated mission board and assembly. They will help specify, design and implement specific missions in Horizon Europe:

European Innovation Council (EIC)

The disparate funding mechanisms for innovation-focused projects have now been brought together under the EIC. This includes established schemes such as FET (now called Pathfinder under Horizon Europe) and the Fast Track to Innovation programme that was piloted in H2020 but will also include Innovation Fellowships (an Innovation equivalent of ERC fellowships).

The two main new funding instruments are:

  • Pathfinder for Advanced Research – to support scientific and technological research, proof of concept and prototypes for technology validation. It will also support transition activities to help innovators develop pathways to commercial development.
  • EIC Accelerator – to provide support for innovation and market deployment actions in the form of direct blended finance (grants, guarantees covering other types of financing provided by financial intermediaries, etc).

Open Science  & Citizens involvement

Following pilots in H2020, open access publishing and research data is now mandatory as default. There is a higher focus on citizen-based approaches, including public engagement both of research results and the value therein, as well as in developing the programme. This also aims to address public scepticism of how public research funding is spent.

H2020 vs Horizon Europe

Key similarities and differences between H2020 and Horizon Europe are summarised here:

 H2020 Horizon Europe   
Duration 2014-2020 2021-2027
Budget €79.2bn €95.5bn (tbc)
Structure3 main “pillars” :
1. Excellence
2. Leadership in Enabling& Industrial Technologies (LEIT)
3. Societal Challenges
3 main “pillars”:
1. Excellent Science
2. Global Challenges and European Industrial Competitiveness
3. Innovative Europe
Common Schemes
ERC, FET, Marie Sklodowska-Curie, Research Infrastructure
Differences in Collaborative Research • Top-down

• 10 Challenges across Societal Challenges and LEIT

• Industry-facing calls in LEIT

• Innovation through specific schemes and within all calls
• Top-down and bottom-up

• 6 clusters within Global Challenges, based on UN SDGs

• Industrial benefits within all Global Challenges

• EIC for innovation-focussed activities

Funding opportunities under Horizon Europe

Please click the drop-down menu below to find out more about:

  • the range of opportunities available under Horizon Europe and its programme structure
  • the main schemes under each pillar and what they fund.

Programme Structure, range of opportunities & where to find them

Where to find funding opportunities?

Funding opportunities are:

  • available under specific schemes, organised under three pillars (see diagram below).
  • set out in multiple annual Work Programmes (WPs). The upcoming WPs run for the year 2023-2024 (expected to be published in Autumn/End of 2022). All published WPs can be found under the H Europe reference documents (under the Work programme & call document)
  • advertised through calls for proposals on the EU Funding Opportunities and Tenders Portal.

A range of opportunities covering the whole R&I cycle

Horizon Europe schemes and calls for proposals support different types of research projects at different development stages, throughout the R&I cycle.

This includes: fellowships; collaborative projects; accompanying projects aiming to support research and innovation (eg networks, dissemination activities). Calls for proposals can have:

  • a bottom up approach (investigator-driven topics)
  • a top-down approach (priority topics defined by the EC).
  • a mixed approach (mainly for calls under the 5 ‘Missions’- see pillar 2)

Pillar Structure & Schemes

Horizon Europe is structured under 3 pillars. Each pillar has its main focus, with different schemes under them to support their objectives.

  1. Excellent Science
    Bottom-up, researcher led projects to increase the EU’s global scientific competitiveness.
  2. Global challenges & European Industrial Competitiveness
    Underpinning EU policies & Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), collaborative projects to support key technologies & solutions for societal, technological and/or industrial challenges.
    Sets EU-wide missions to tackle some of our greatest global challenges.
  3. Innovative Europe
    Projects to support market-creating breakthroughs & the overall EU innovation landscape.

Pillar 1 - Excellence 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

Marie Skłodowska-Curie – Postgraduate Fellowships (PF)

  • Bottom-up calls
  • Fund fellowships (involved moving or having recently moved to another country)
  • For researchers with a maximum of eight years experience in research from the date of the award of their PhD degree (excluding career break, experience outside research, experience in research in Third Countries etc.).
  • 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 – Doctoral Networks

  • Fund doctoral programmes delivered by an interdisciplinary/inter-sectoral partnerships of organisations from across Europe and beyond
  • Any fields/topics of research

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

  • Exchange programmes

Pillar 2 - Global Challenges and European Industrial Competitiveness

Clusters – Global Challenges & Industrial Competitiveness

  • Top-down calls for collaborative projects in defined intervention areas under 6 clusters.
  • Address EU and global policy challenges, contribute to SDGs.
  • Funding aims to support research into societal challenges and reinforce technological and industrial capacities.
  • Promote interdisciplinary, cross-sectoral, cross-policy, cross-border and international cooperation.

The 6 clusters areas are:

  1. Health
  2. Culture, Creativity and Inclusive Society
  3. Civil Security for Society
  4. Digital, Industry and Space
  5. Climate, Energy and Mobility
  6. Food, Bioeconomy, Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environment


EU missions will:

  • Aim to deliver solutions to global challenges. They are commitments to solve some of the greatest global challenges.
  • Adopt a mission-driven approach. One of the main novelties on Horizon Europe.
  • Have a mixed of top-down & bottom-up elements.  It is expected that applicants will be able to choose from the different project types available under Horizon Europe, according to which one will best help them deliver towards achieving the Mission goals.
  • Adopt a portfolio approach. Actions are expected to stretch across different disciplines and parts of Horizon Europe. Portfolios will have a mixed of project types: such as collaborative projects, prizes or financing mechanisms etc.

They are 5 identified missions. Each mission will operate as a portfolio of actions.

  1. Adaptation to climate change including societal transformation
  2. Cancer
  3. Climate-neutral and smart cities
  4. Healthy oceans, seas, coastal and inland waters
  5. Soil health and food

Since they are new, missions are by definition ‘experimental’, EU missions will:

  • be bold, inspirational and widely relevant to society
  • be clearly framed: targeted, measurable and time-bound
  • establish impact-driven but realistic goals
  • mobilise resources on EU, national and local levels
  • link activities across different disciplines and different types of research and innovation -thus going beyond individual projects or partnerships and creating strong synergies.
  • make it easier for citizens to understand the value of investments in research and innovation
  • contribute to the goals of the European Green Deal, Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan as well as the Sustainable Development Goals.

Pilar 3 - Innovative Europe

EIC Pathfinder Open (Previously known as FET-Open in H2020)

  • Scheme supporting future and emerging breakthrough technologies.
  • Funds collaborative research projects with a bottom-up approach (no predefined topics).
  • Funds early-stage development of future technologies (based on high-risk/high-gain science-towards-technology breakthrough research).
  • Expected outcomes are to realise the proof of principle & validate the scientific basis of the future technology

EIC Pathfinder Challenges

  • Top-down challenge-driven calls in 5 challenges  (strategic priorities of the EU).
  • Scheme supports tackling specific technology breakthroughs.
  • Funds collaborative and mono-beneficiary projects
  • Funds cutting-edge/innovative technology solutions to disrupt a field, a market or create new opportunities via high-risk/high-gain research.

EIC Transition Open

  • Bottom-up scheme
  • Funds consortium-based or mono-beneficiary projects.
  • Funds activities going beyond the experimental proof of principle.
  • Applications must build on results from eligible previous projects (e.g.ERC PoC, FET /EIC Pathfinder).
  • Support both the maturation and validation of novel technologies in the lab and in relevant application environments and the development of a business case & business model towards an innovation’s future commercialisation.

Where do I find further information?