Overview of Horizon 2020 funding schemes

What do the types of action and funding schemes for Horizon 2020 calls specify?

  • the area and extent of what eligible for funding
  • the reimbursement rate
  • the specific criteria you’ll be evaluated on to qualify for funding
  • using simplified forms for costs, e.g. lump sums

A detailed description of types of actions is available in the General Annexes of the Main Work Programme and in the ERC Work Programme.

Research & Innovation Actions

EU funding rate – 100%

It’s activities geared towards establishing new knowledge and/or exploring the viability of a new or improved technology, product, process, service, or solution. This can include basic and applied research, technology development and integration, testing and validation on small-scale prototype(s) in a laboratory or simulated environment. These projects can have closely connected but limited demonstration or pilot activities with the goal of displaying technical feasibility in a near to operational environment.

There’s also Research and Innovation Lump Sum actions (RIA-LS). These receive their funding for any grants they’ve been awarded as lump sums.

Innovation actions

EU funding rate – 100% for non-profit and 70% for all others

They’re activities aimed directly at producing plans and arrangements; or designs for new, altered, or improved products, processes, or services. This can include prototyping, testing, demonstrating, piloting, large-scale product validation and market replication.

There’s also Innovation Lump Sum actions (IA-LS). These receive their funding for any grants they’ve been awarded as lump sums.

Coordination & Support Actions

These are accompanying measures such as standardisation, dissemination, awareness-raising and communication, networking, coordination or support services, policy dialogues and mutual learning exercises and studies.

There’s also Coordination and support Lump Sum actions (CSA-LS). These receive their funding for any grants they’ve been awarded as lump sums.

COFUND actions

The EU funding rate for COFUND varies based on joint funding from the EU and national governments, industry or other bodies.

ERA-NET Cofund

This supports public-public partnerships, including joint programming initiatives between Member States, in their preparation, establishment of networking structures, implementation of joint activities; including Union topping-up of a trans-national call for proposals. It’s based on the merger of the former ERA-NET and ERA-NET Plus actions. It allows for programme collaboration in any part of the entire research-innovation cycle. The main and compulsory activity of the ERA-NET Cofund is the implementation of the co-funded joint call for proposals to fund trans-national research and innovation projects.

The EU contribution is limited to a maximum of 33% of the total eligible costs of the action.

European Joint Programme (EJP) Cofund

This supports coordinated national research and innovation programmes. It aims at attracting and pooling a critical mass of national resources on objectives and challenges of Horizon 2020 and at achieving significant economies of scales by adding related Horizon 2020 resources to a joint effort. The EJP Cofund does not promote types of activities or forms of coordination, but relies on modalities and processes agreed by the coordinated national programmes and related actors.

The EU contribution is limited to 70% of the total eligible costs of the action, unless otherwise specified in the call conditions.

Pre-Commercial Procurement (PCP)

These enable the public sector as a technologically demanding buyer to encourage research and development of pivotal solutions that would radically improve quality and efficiency in areas of public interest, while also creating market opportunities for industry and researchers.

The requested reimbursement of the estimated eligible costs of coordination and networking activities should not exceed 30% of the requested grant. Indirect eligible costs are calculated as a flat rate of 25% of direct eligible costs, excluding direct eligible costs for subcontracting (e.g the price of the PCP procurement) and costs of resources made available by third parties which are not used on the premises of the beneficiary (e.g test equipment).

Public Procurement of Innovative Solutions (PPI)

This aids the early deployment of innovative solutions that address challenges of public interest. The goal is to enable trans-national groups of procurers to share the risks of acting as early adopters of innovative solutions and to overcome the fragmentation of demand for innovative solutions in Europe. Each PPI action focuses on one defined, unmet, and shared need that of the participating procurers that requires innovative solutions, which are significantly similar across countries and can be procured jointly.

The requested reimbursement of the estimated eligible costs of coordination and networking activities should not exceed 50% of the requested grant. Indirect eligible costs are calculated as a flat rate of 25% of direct eligible costs, excluding direct eligible costs for subcontracting (e.g. the price of the PPI procurement) and the costs of resources made available by third parties (e.g. test equipment) which are not used on the premises of the beneficiary.

Actions: Multi-Participant or Mono-Participant

While most H2020 themes favor collaborative research projects with at least three organisations from different countries are in a consortium, there’s also a number of mono-participant actions available.
Mono-participant actions:

European Research Council (ERC) research grants

EU funding rate – 100%

ERC backs frontier research by individual researchers and teams. There are several different types of ERC grants.

  • Starting Grant supports promising lead researchers that are preparing to establish a proper research team in order to start conducting independent research in Europe. The scheme targets talented researchers with the proven potential of becoming independent research leaders. It supports the creation of outstanding new research teams. This grant is available to researchers of any nationality with 2-7 years of experience after the completion of their PhD (or equivalent degree) and a promising scientific track record.
  • Consolidator Grant supports researchers that are at the stage in which they’re consolidating their own independent research team or programme. This scheme aims to strengthen independent and new individual research teams that have been formed recently. This grant is available to researchers of any nationality with 7-12 years of experience after the completion of their PhD (or equivalent degree) and a promising scientific track record.
  • Advanced Grant is for established research leaders of any nationality and any age to pursue ground-breaking, high-risk projects that go in new directions in their respective research fields or other domains. The ERC Advanced Grant funding targets exceptional researchers who have already established themselves as independent research leaders.
  • Proof of Concept Grant is open to researchers that have already been awarded an ERC grant. ERC grant holders can apply for this additional funding in order to establish the innovation potential of ideas arising from their ERC-funded frontier research projects.
  • Synergy grant is aimed at enabling a small group of researchers and their teams to bring together complementary skills, knowledge, and resources in new ways to jointly address a research problem.

Marie Sklodowska-Curie actions

EU funding rate – 100%

Marie Sklodowska-Curie actions advances researcher mobility. In addition to receiving research funding, scientists also have the possibility to gain experience abroad and in the private sector; and/or complete training with competencies relevant and useful to their careers.

SME instrument

Lump sum EU funding rate – a specific amount of funding is given

SME instrument or EIC Accelerator supports both individual SMEs and SME groups that have international ambitions that are determined to be strong and will be able to successfully transform innovative business ideas into marketplace accomplishments.

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