Horizon 2020 is the financial instrument implementing the Innovation Union, a Europe 2020 flagship initiative aimed at securing Europe's global competitiveness.
Seen as a means to drive economic growth and create jobs, Horizon 2020 has the political backing of Europe’s leaders and the Members of the European Parliament. They agreed that research is an investment in our future and so put it at the heart of the EU’s blueprint for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth and jobs.
By coupling research and innovation, Horizon 2020 is helping to achieve this with its emphasis on excellent science, industrial leadership and tackling societal challenges. The goal is to ensure Europe produces world-class science, removes barriers to innovation and makes it easier for the public and private sectors to work together in delivering innovation.
Horizon 2020 is open to everyone, with a simple structure that reduces red tape and time so participants can focus on what is really important. This approach makes sure new projects get off the ground quickly – and achieve results faster.
The EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation will be complemented by further measures to complete and further develop the European Research Area. These measures will aim at breaking down barriers to create a genuine single market for knowledge, research and innovation.
How do they work?
Two year work programmes announce the specific areas that will be funded by Horizon 2020. Look out for them on the online Participant Portal as they can be used as a calendar for the calls for proposals (‘calls’), to be published during the year. The Participant Portal is your entry point for electronic administration of EU-funded research and innovation projects, and hosts the services for managing your proposals and projects throughout their lifecycle.
Each call gives more precise information on the questions that the Commission would like you to address in your proposals. All calls can be found in the EU’s Official Journal – the official source for all EU documents – as well as on the Participant Portal
The application process
Submit your proposal
If you wish to respond to a call, you must submit a proposal before the deadline. The Participant Portal has clear instructions to guide you through the process. The system is simpler than ever – no more paper! All proposals are submitted online.
Find your partners
Many calls require a team of at least three partners. If you need help to identify a potential partner with particular competences, facilities or experience, use the partner search options.
Evaluation by experts
Once the deadline has passed, all proposals are evaluated by a panel of independent specialists in their fields. The panel checks each proposal against a list of criteria to see if it should receive funding.
Once a proposal passes the evaluation stage (five months’ duration), applicants are informed about the outcome. The European Commission then draws up a grant agreement with each participant. The grant agreement confirms what research & innovation activities will be undertaken, the project duration, budget, rates and costs, the European Commission's contribution, all rights and obligations and more. The time limit for signing the grant agreements is generally three months.