Guidance

Horizon 2020: what it is and how to apply for funding

How organisations such as businesses and universities can access Horizon 2020 European funding support for research and innovation projects.

Overview

Horizon 2020 (H2020) is the largest ever European funding programme for research and innovation. It has a budget of 79 billion euros and will run until 2020. Its aims are to:

  • ensure that Europe produces world-class science
  • remove barriers to innovation
  • make it easier for public and private sectors to innovate together

The Horizon 2020 programme has 3 areas of focus:

Excellent science

Raising the level of excellence in Europe’s science base by:

  • supporting the best ideas
  • developing European talent
  • providing researchers with access to a research infrastructure

Industrial leadership

Stimulating the growth potential of European companies by:

  • offering access to risk finance
  • encouraging private investment in R&D
  • engaging smaller companies by offering support for innovative SMEs

Societal challenges

Reflecting the policy priorities of the European Commission. This covers all stages of research and innovation - from concept to market.

Notes on the EU referendum

See the Statement from Jo Johnson, Minister of State for Universities and Science, about how the EU referendum affects Horizon 2020

See Chancellor Philip Hammond’s statement guaranteeing Horizon 2020 EU funding beyond date UK leaves the EU

Horizon 2020 Interim Evaluation

Register for the expression of interest to become a member of the Horizon 2020 Interim Evaluation High-Level Expert Group on maximising the impact of EU Research and Innovation programmes as part of the interim evaluation of Horizon 2020

Horizon 2020 is the largest ever European funding programme for research and innovation.
Horizon 2020 is the largest ever European funding programme for research and innovation.

Find out if you’re eligible to apply for Horizon 2020 funding

Horizon 2020 funding opportunities are open to everyone in an EU member state. There are also opportunities for people from some other countries. The EU calls these associated countries and third countries.

You must be a consortium of at least 3 organisations if you want to apply to run a standard research project. Each consortium member must be an organisation that has legal standing such as a registered business, partnership or charity. Different funding competitions may have other conditions.

Find out what funding is available

You can find a list of funding opportunities on the European Commission Participant Portal.

Horizon 2020 provides different types of funding schemes:

Research and innovation actions

You can apply for funding for projects that establish or explore the feasibility of new knowledge or technology. You can get funding for up to 100% of your project’s direct costs.

Innovation actions

You can apply for funding if your project is close to market. This could include prototyping, testing, demonstrating, piloting, market replication or large-scale product validation. You can get up to 70% of your project’s direct costs if you are a business. You can get up to 100% funding if you are a not-for-profit organisation.

Coordination and support actions

You can apply for funding to cover networking and coordinating research and innovation projects. This can include standardisation, dissemination, awareness-raising, networking and support services. You can get funding for up to 100% of your project’s direct costs.

SME instrument

You can apply for funding if you are an SME and want to develop your growth potential. There are 3 phases and these cover the whole innovation cycle. You can also access a mentoring and coaching service.

Fast track to innovation

You can apply for funding for innovation activities that are close to market. To apply, you must be part of a consortium with 3 to 5 partners. Partners must be from at least 3 different EU member states or associated countries.

Pre-commercial procurement

If you are in the public sector, you can act as a buyer to encourage the development of new solutions to problems. This will give you access to innovations before they go on sale to others. This will also open up market opportunities for industry and researchers.

Public procurement of innovative solutions

If you are a contracting authority, you can apply for funding to help you act as a customer for new innovations. These innovations are products or services that are not available on a large-scale commercial basis.

Marie Sklodowska Curie actions

You can apply for funding if you are a researcher. You can get funding for up to 100% of your project’s direct costs.

ERC grants

You can apply for funding if you are looking for support for fundamental research. You can get funding for up to 100% of your project’s direct costs

Apply for Horizon 2020 funding

To apply for funding you must first register on the European Commission Participant Portal. You will need to submit your proposal and manage your project through this portal.

Once you have submitted your proposal, the European Commission will check that you are eligible. A panel of independent experts will then assess your proposal. There is standard evaluation criteria although this can vary for each funding scheme.

There are several organisations that can help you with your proposal, see section below.

Get help to find a project partner

Some Horizon 2020 funding schemes need you to form a consortium to apply.

Here are some links to organisations that can help UK applicants find partners:

Get help with your Horizon 2020 application

If you are a UK applicant, you can get help from the following organisations.

National Contact Points (NCPs)

NCPs can give you advice on:

  • choosing the best funding scheme
  • administrative procedures and contractual issues
  • the application process
  • documents (forms, guidelines and manuals)
  • finding a project partner
  • reviewing your proposal
  • liaising with the commission on the scope of projects

The Enterprise Europe Network (EEN)

You can get help from EEN if you are an organisation with high innovative potential and ambitions for international growth. EEN can help you with:

  • going international – finding and connecting with potential business partners across Europe
  • communicating with the EU
  • finding other funding opportunities and local initiatives
  • account management for organisations receiving Horizon 2020 funding
  • becoming more innovative

The Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN)

You can get help from the KTN to:

  • find funding opportunities
  • form partnerships
  • develop your project proposals
  • work with other UK stakeholders to influence Horizon 2020 work programmes

Devolved administrations

If you are in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, you can get help from the devolved administrations:

Horizon 2020 events

You can find out about specific funding opportunities by attending a Horizon 2020 event. Future events will be listed here.

Other funding opportunities

You can also access other European funding and support programmes:

EUREKA

EUREKA is a network of over 36 countries. It supports international collaboration for the development of innovative new products, processes and services.

There is no direct funding available in the UK for EUREKA projects. You can take part if you are a large UK business or academic organisation but you must fund this yourself.

Contact Graham Mobbs, European operations manager - Graham.Mobbs@innovateuk.gov.uk or 07824 599585

EUREKA Eurostars

If you are an SME and want to take part in collaborative research, you can apply to the EUREKA Eurostars programme. EUREKA Eurostars supports the development of new products, processes or services. You can apply with 2 (or more) participants from 2 (or more) Eurostars countries. An SME carrying out R&D must lead the project.

There will be two calls for proposals each year between 2014 and 2020. You will find out if your application has been successful within 14 weeks of the closing date.

Innovate UK funds successful UK applicants. You can get up to 60% of eligible project costs - up to €360,000 per UK project partner.

Only innovative intensive and research-performing SMEs are eligible for funding in the UK. You can also take part in a Eurostars project if you are a large UK business or academic organisation but you must fund this yourself or from other sources.

Contact Graham Mobbs, European operations manager - Graham.Mobbs@innovateuk.gov.uk or 07824 599585

Electronic components and systems for European leadership

You can apply to ECSEL if you are a business or research and technology organisation. ECSEL combines 3 technology areas:

  • ENIAC nano-electronics
  • ARTEMIS embedded computing systems
  • European Technology Platform EPOSS (smart systems integration)

There is no funding available for this programme in 2016. UK companies and organisations are welcome to participate but they will have to self-fund.

Contact Graham Mobbs, European operations manager - Graham.Mobbs@innovateuk.gov.uk or 07824 599585

European Regional Area NETwork

ERA-NET provides funding in specific sectors and themed areas of science and technology.

There are currently no open ERA-NET funding calls. Innovate UK is working with other European funding agencies to develop new funding opportunities. Further information will be available soon.

Contact Graham Mobbs, European operations manager - Graham.Mobbs@innovateuk.gov.uk or 07824 599585

European Institute of Technology

You can also apply to the European Institute of Technology to take part in one of its knowledge and innovation communities (KIC). These KICs bring together the private sector, research organisations and higher education institutions.

Each KIC has a physical centre which acts as a hub for activities such as:

  • training and education programmes
  • innovation projects
  • business incubation

There are 5 operational KICs:

In 2016, you will be able to apply to take part in two new KICs. These will be in Added-value manufacturing and Food: sustainable supply chain from resources to customers. There will also be a KIC in Urban Mobility in 2018.