Horizon 2020, Horizon Europe & European Funds: something to keep in mind

Redesigned Pillar structure

It is likely that the familiar three-pillar structure of Horizon 2020 will be confirmed in the next framework programme as well, although with not irrelevant modifications.

Pillar one is expected to continue to support researchers through fellowships and exchanges as well as funding to projects defined and driven by researchers themselves, through the European Research Council and the Marie-Skłodowska-Curie actions.

Pillar two is more likely to undergo significant modifications, which is reflected in changing the title of the pillar to global challenges. Elements from 'societal challenges' and 'leadership in enabling industrial technologies' sections are planned to be mixed in this pillar. Moreover, the seven existing societal challenges in Horizon 2020 are to be "rationalised" into five broad topics, namely: health, resilience and security, digital and industry, climate, energy and mobility, and food and natural resources.

Pillar three aims to make Europe a front runner in market-creating innovation. A European Innovation Council will offer a one-stop shop for high potential and breakthrough technologies and innovative companies with potential for scaling up.

 Horizon Europe is not the only game in town

Horizon Europe won't be the only continent-wide source of science funding. InvestEU provides an EU guarantee mobilise public and private financing in the form of loans, guarantees, equity or other market-based instruments, to strategic investments in the support of Research and Development through a dedicated investment window. With a contribution from the EU budget of €15.2 billion, InvestEU will mobilise more than €650 billion of additional investment across Europe.

EU Cohesion Policy plays an important part of the EU funds for Research & Innovation through an increased focus on innovation and Smart Specialisation strategies. The "Seal of Excellence" allows projects successfully evaluated under Horizon Europe to be funded at regional level under the European Structural and Investment Funds.

The new European Defence Fund, with an overall budget of €13 billion, will offer EU funded grants for collaborative projects which address emerging and future defence and security threats and bridge technological gaps.

ITER, the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, is a first-of-a-kind, long-term project to build and operate a reactor to test the feasibility of fusion as an energy source. €6 billion will be allocated to it.

The Euratom Research and Training Programme funds research and training on the safety of nuclear energy production.

The new Digital Europe Programme, with €9.2 billion aims to bring the benefits of the digital transformation to all European citizens and businesses. The programme will boost frontline investments in high-performance computing and data, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and advanced digital skills.