How businesses, universities, charities and other organisations can access funding support for European research and innovation projects.
Horizon 2020 is the largest ever European funding programme for research and innovation. It has a budget of 79 billion euros and will run until 2020.
It aims to:
- ensure that Europe produces world-class science
- remove barriers to innovation
- make it easier for public and private sectors to innovate together
This guidance is designed to help people in the UK understand and access the funding opportunities available, in order to innovate and grow both in the UK and abroad.
What is Horizon 2020?
The Horizon 2020 programme was established by the European Union (EU) as a collaborative financial instrument that would help secure Europe’s global competitiveness in research and innovation.
The programme – running from 2014 to 2020 – is seen as a means of putting Europe at the heart of world-class science and innovation, making it more competitive, creating economic growth and new jobs. It offers an open, simple structure for accessing funding in order to remove barriers to collaborative innovation, get new projects off the ground quickly and achieve results faster.
Funding calls are based on 3 areas:
This area focuses on 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
This area stimulates the growth potential of European companies by:
- offering access to risk finance
- encouraging private investment in research and development
- offering support for innovative small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)
This area aims to tackle the biggest challenges facing modern society. It reflects the policy priorities of the European Commission and covers all stages of research and innovation, from concept to market.
What Horizon 2020 can do for you as a UK business
If you are an innovative UK-based business you should apply for a Horizon 2020 call. It is:
- the biggest single opportunity for UK businesses to access European funding
- a gateway for accessing new expertise, infrastructure and markets
- a proven instrument for supporting your business to become more innovative, competitive and to grow faster – and helping to grow the UK economy as a whole
Find out if you’re eligible to apply
Horizon 2020 funding opportunities are open to all EU member states.
If you want to apply to run a standard research project you must be one of the following:
- registered business
- partnership or
- research organisation that has legal standing
You must form a consortium with other members of this status. For other, non-standard competitions different conditions may apply. The guidance for the competition will specify this.
UK participation in Horizon 2020: UK government overview
UK government encourages the UK research and innovation community to continue applying for Horizon 2020 funding and to participate in projects.
This is because, until our departure from the EU, we remain a member state, with all the rights and obligations that entails. This includes UK organisations being eligible to participate in the Horizon 2020 programme while we remain a member of the EU.
UK organisations’ eligibility in Horizon 2020 is intended to remain unchanged for the duration of the programme, as set out in the joint report on the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. This includes an organisation’s eligibility to participate in Horizon 2020 projects and to receive funding for the lifetime of these projects.
The underwrite guarantee will remain in place even if the commitments made in the joint report are not met.
Opportunites for other countries
Find out what funding is available
Horizon 2020 provides different types of funding schemes. You can find more information about each stream on the European Commission Participant Portal.
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.
You can apply for funding if your project is close to market. This could include:
- market replication or
- large-scale product validation
You can get up to 70% of your project’s direct costs if you are a business, or 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:
- support services
You can get funding for up to 100% of your project’s direct costs.
This stream is for SMEs that want to develop their 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.
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.
European Research Council 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 need to:
- find a live funding call
- find partners to form a consortium
- register on the European Commission Participant Portal
- read the online manual, which includes step-by-step instructions on preparing your proposal
- submit your proposal via the portal by the stated deadline
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.
Get help with your Horizon 2020 application
If you are a UK applicant there are organisations that can help you find opportunities and complete your proposal.
National Contact Points
The network of National Contact Points are based across the UK to help you with a range of Horizon 2020 issues, including:
- choosing the best funding scheme
- administrative procedures and contractual issues
- the application process
- the documents you’ll need to use (forms, guidelines and manuals)
- finding a project partner
- reviewing your proposal
- any communication between you and the commission on your project scope
The Enterprise Europe Network (EEN)
The Enterprise Europe Network (EEN) works to advise and connect UK businesses with co-developers, manufacturers, distributors and suppliers overseas.
You can get help from EEN if you are an organisation with high innovative potential and ambitions for international growth. It can advise on:
- 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
As our networking partner, the Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN) links new ideas and opportunities with expertise, markets and finance through its network of businesses, universities, funders and investors.
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
If you are in Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales you can get support from the devolved administrations:
- Northern Ireland – the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment
- Scotland - the Scottish EU Funding Portal
- Wales – the Welsh European Funding Office Horizon 2020 Unit
Get help to find a project partner
To apply for some Horizon 2020 funding schemes you will need to form a consortium with partners in other countries.
There are a number of places where you can get help to find partners:
- European Commission Participation Portal partner search tool
- European Commission CORDIS partner search tool
- Enterprise Europe Network
- Knowledge Transfer Network
Horizon 2020 events
You can find out about specific funding opportunities by attending a Horizon 2020 event.
- EU-Norway Energy Conference, 5 February 2019, Brussels, Belgium
- Horizon 2020 Briefing Webinar: 2019 Cross-Cutting Calls in Next-Generation Batteries, 6 February 2019, webinar
- Information Event: MSCA Research and Innovation Staff Exchange Action Call, 8 February 2019, London, UK
- International Conference on Industrial Biotechnology and Bioprocessing, 20 to 21 March 2019, London, UK
- European Nuclear Energy Forum, 29 to 30 April 2019, Prague, Czech Republic
- EU Sustainable Energy Week 2019, 17 to 21 June 2019, Brussels, Belgium