Horizon 2020 is the framework for research funding in Europe that runs from 2014-2020. Horizon 2020 will finish at the end of 2020 and will be succeeded by Horizon Europe.
Horizon 2020 has different call topics across different work programs in 3 pillars that aim at:
- Stimulating high-risk/high impact tech developments and Excellent Science. This pillar includes personal grants ERC for ERC and Marie Curie Actions, but also FET, Research Infrastructures, EIT, Euratom and JRC. This pillar includes the calls for the personal grants ERC and Marie Curie Individual Fellowships.
- Technology / industry-driven developments and Industrial Leadership. This pillar focuses on Leadership in enabling and industrial technologies (LEIT) such as Nanotechnology, ICT, Space and Advanced Materials, and innovation in SMEs.
- Finding solutions for Societal challenges. This pillar publishes most of the calls for the research consortia. There are the following 7 domains:
- Health, demographic change and wellbeing
- Food security, sustainable agriculture and the bio-economy
- Secure, clean and efficient energy
- Smart, green and integrated transport
- Climate action and resource efficiency + raw materials
- Innovative, Inclusive, Reflective Societies
- Secure Europe
An overview figure of the three pillars in H2020:
Further H2020 calls and foreseen changes
Although H2020 will end in December 2020, there are still several calls open. A list of topics as published in November 2019 can be found here. Some changes may have occurred to this list: with corona disruptions, some deadlines have shifted; also, based on the priorities of the new Presidency, the European Commission intends to modify topics (e.g. ‘FETPROACT-EIC-07-2020: FET Proactive: emerging paradigms and communities’ and ‘FETPROACT-EIC-08-2020: Environmental Intelligence’). Draft updates are available, however changes are officially adopted once all necessary procedural steps are finalised.
H2020 calls that are currently open and relevant for the UT community can be found on our deadline pages
Best approach for call search and latest information is always to check the Funding and Tenders Portal:
- Topic search using keywords - https://ec.europa.eu/info/funding-tenders/opportunities/portal/screen/opportunities/topic-search
- Covid-19 standpoint - https://ec.europa.eu/info/funding-tenders/opportunities/portal/screen/support/faq
Finding information on the calls
All information on the Work Programmes and specific Calls – both for consortia and individual grants - can be found on the EU funding & Tenders portal. The Work Programmes contain the texts with all the details on each call. Templates for proposals and budget calculations can also be found there. The funding & Tenders portal also allows to search for open and upcoming calls.
Size of the consortium
Consortia must have at least 3 participants from at least 3 member states or associated countries. Details on eligible countries can be found here.
Types of actions (RIA, IA, CSA)
Calls always specify what types of action (RIA, IA or CSA) can be funded. There are three types of actions:
- Research and Innovation actions (RIA): are typically for lower TRL and involve more ‘basic research’. Projects often last 4-5 years
- Innovation Actions (IA): these are for projects at higher TRL levels, where products or technologies are almost ready to be demonstrated in the real environment. Innovation Actions typically last 3 years, after which you should have demonstrated in the real environment.
- Coordination and Support Actions (CSA): these are not for research, but rather to set up networks, create roadmaps, policy documents etc.
More information on the actions and their requirements can be found in this fact sheet from the EC.
Technology Readiness Levels (TRL) indicate how close a product or technology is to market uptake and actual use. Funding calls typically specify what TRL they require to be reached after the funding period. Most research at universities involves lower TRLs, whereas higher TRLs are often created by private companies, although this is not a strict separation. 3 different definitions (including the one from the EU) can be found in this document.
Participating in a consortium or coordinating a consortium
Participating in a consortium to obtain EU funding for your research and is encouraged by the UT. To find a consortium, it is usually best to use your network. Connect to fellow researchers and start early on (as soon as the Work Program is published). Funding opportunities can be found on the Funding & Tenders Portal of the EC and in databases such as ResearchProfessional.
Coordinating a consortium is more prestigious, but it also requires sufficient experience. It involves writing and coordinating a 50-70 page proposal and extensive commitment. Therefore, we advise to coordinate only after you have participated in several consortia. Furthermore, the larger the consortium, the harder it is to manage. If you are considering coordinating a consortium, contact your faculty and the grants office so that we may support you in the best possible way.
What can be funded?
What can be funded typically depends on the call and the type of action. Costs need to be specified in detail. The EC is currently piloting with lumpsum funding. More information on what can be funded can be found here.
The primary applicant (coordinator) of a project can hire capacity (project management) at the Grants Office for the administrative part of the project. The project manager supports the project lead in all aspects of project management (communication, meetings, workshops, etc.). The associated costs can be included in the project grant.
The upcoming Work Programme, Horizon Europe, is still under development. Developments are slow, the program depends on the European budget for the next period, which is still not approved. Before corona disruptions, the expectation was to have an insight into the calls-under-development by end of Summer, and first calls opening by the end of 2020. However, delays are likely and details are not yet clear. The Grants Office will keep the community updated on developments.
The expectation is that not much will change will with respect to Horizon 2020 in terms of call publication deadlines; calls are likely to be published biannually and to open about three months before the deadline. For the ERC, as before, deadlines are expected to be published on a yearly basis. In terms of “types of calls” to expect, also not much changes from Horizon 2020.
The schematics below gives an overview of the currently planned funding schemes according to TRL level and consortium size:
- Pillar 1) will again include excellent science, the ERC (single partner, TRL 1-2), Marie-Curie actions (single-partner (Individual Fellowships) to medium multi-partner projects (Training Networks) and TRL 2-3), and Research Infrastructures (TRL 1).
- Pillar 2) contains the global challenges in the clusters Health, Security, Digital, Climate, Food as well as the missions. The calls will require medium to large multi-partner projects and TRL levels range from 3 to 6.
- Pillar 3) is about Innovative Europe and provides funding for projects at much higher TRL levels 5-8. Project sizes range from single partner to medium multi-partner projects and funding schemes are for example EIT, Innovative Ecosystems and EIC accelerator.
Finally, at TRL 8-9 there is funding from Structural funds, Social Funds, InvestEU, etc, for projects of any size.
Again, the above information and scheme depend on draft work programs that still need to be confirmed. The Grants Office will keep the community updated on developments. Do not hesitate in contacting firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.