Last year, the European Commission announced it will spend EUR 30 billion of the EU research and innovation funding programme Horizon 2020 during 2018-2020, including EUR 2.7 billion to kick-start a European Innovation Council.
Horizon 2020, the EU’s EUR 77 billion research and innovation funding programme, supports scientific excellence in Europe and has contributed to high-profile scientific breakthroughs such as the discovery of exoplanets and gravitational waves. Over the next 3 years, the Commission will seek greater impact of its research funding by focusing on fewer, but critical topics such as migration, security, climate, clean energy and digital economy. Horizon 2020 will also be more geared towards boosting breakthrough, market-creating innovation.
“Artificial Intelligence, genetics, blockchain: science is at the core of today’s most promising breakthrough innovations. Europe is a world leader in science and technology and will play a major role in driving innovation. The Commission is making a concerted effort – including with the European Innovation Council which takes its first steps today – to give Europe’s many innovators a springboard to become world leading companies,” Carlos Moedas, Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, stated.
Supporting breakthrough, market-creating innovation
Since the beginning of its mandate, the Juncker Commission has been working hard to give Europe’s many innovative entrepreneurs every opportunity to thrive. Now, the Commission is launching the first phase of the European Innovation Council.
Between 2018 and 2020, the Commission will mobilise EUR 2.7 billion from Horizon 2020 to support high-risk, high-gain innovation to create the markets of the future. Moreover, Horizon 2020 will make better use of its ‘crack the challenge’ prizes to deliver breakthrough technology solutions to pressing problems faced by our citizens.
Focusing on political priorities
The 2018-2020 Work Programme will focus efforts on fewer topics with bigger budgets, directly supporting the Commission’s political priorities:
- A low-carbon, climate resilient future: EUR 3.3 billion;
- Circular Economy: EUR 1 billion;
- Digitising and transforming European industry and services: EUR 1.7 billion;
- Security Union: EUR 1 billion;
- Migration: EUR 200 million.
EUR 2.2 billion will be earmarked for clean energy projects in four interrelated areas: renewables, energy efficient buildings, electro-mobility and storage solutions, including EUR 200 million to support the development and production in Europe of the next generation of electric batteries.
Boosting ‘blue sky’ research
At the same time, Horizon 2020 will continue to fund ‘curiosity-driven science’ (often referred to as ‘blue sky science’ or ‘frontier research’). The annual Work Programme of the European Research Council for 2018 will enable support for excellent researchers with nearly EUR 1.86 billion. Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions, which fund fellowships for researchers at all stages of their careers, receive a boost with EUR 2.9 billion in total over three years.
Enhancing international cooperation
The new Work Programme also strengthens international cooperation in research and innovation. It will invest over EUR 1 billion in 30 flagship initiatives in areas of mutual benefit. Examples include working with Canada on personalised medicine, with the US, Japan, South Korea, Singapore and Australia on road transport automation, with India on water challenges and with African countries on food security and renewable energies.
Between 2018 and 2020, EUR 460 million under Horizon 2020 will be allocated specifically to supporting Member States and associated countries that do not yet participate in the programme to their full potential. The aim is to tap into the unexploited pockets of excellence in Europe and beyond. In addition, the programme also continues to promote closer synergies with the European Structural and Investment Funds.
Simplifying rules of participation further
Another novelty is the introduction of the lump-sum pilot, a new, simpler approach to providing financial support to participants. It will shift the focus of ex-ante controls from financial checks to the scientific-technical content of the projects.
The programme marks a step change in promoting Open Science by shifting from publishing research results in scientific publications towards sharing knowledge sooner in the research process. EUR 2 billion will be channelled to support Open Science, and EUR 600 million will be dedicated to the European Open Science Cloud, European Data Infrastructure and High-Performance Computing.
Horizon 2020 is the EU’s biggest ever research and innovation framework programme with a budget of EUR 77 billion over seven years (2014-2020). While most research and innovation activities are still underway or yet to start, the programme is delivering.
Horizon 2020 researchers have contributed to major discoveries like exoplanets, the Higgs boson and gravitational waves, and at least 19 Nobel Prize winners received EU research funding prior or after their award.
As of October 2017, Horizon 2020 has in total funded more than 15,000 grants to the tune of EUR 26.65 billion, of which almost EUR 3.79 billion went to SMEs. The programme has also provided companies, in particular SMEs, with access to risk finance worth over EUR 17 million under the ‘InnovFin – EU finance for innovators’ scheme. Furthermore, 3,143 ERC Principal Investigators in host organisations and 10,176 fellows under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions have received grants worth almost EUR 4.87 billion and EUR 2.89 billion respectively.
Simultaneous to the adoption of the Horizon 2020 Work Programme 2018-2020, the Euratom Work Programme 2018 has been adopted, investing €32 million in research into the management and disposal of radioactive waste. It will also develop a research roadmap on safe decommissioning of nuclear power plants to reduce environmental impact and costs.
Spanning seven years (2014-2020) and with a budget of EUR 77 billion, Horizon 2020 is the biggest EU research and innovation funding programme ever. It is implemented via multi-annual work programmes.
On 27 October 2017, the European Commission presented the final Work Programme for Horizon 2020, covering the budgetary years 2018, 2019 and 2020 and representing an investment of around EUR 30 billion.