Horizon Europe

The next research and innovation framework programme (2021-2027).

Horizon Europe: Lighting the Path to Innovation

Europe is putting forth a great effort to improve and sustain the continent’s robust growth and development, while creating a better quality of life. Horizon Europe is the most ambitious programme ever implemented to address the ills of society. Its strategic planners are using a complex funding structure with a consortium of public-private partnerships to enhance opportunities for all Europeans.

The European Union is investing substantial resources towards alleviating common problems facing its citizens: human resources, industrial modernization, infrastructure, and inter-regional collaboration. At present, €100 billion is earmarked for research and innovation from 2021 to 2027. Europe plans to transform science leadership into global leadership in entrepreneurship and innovation by 2027.

The Commission is focusing on impact by fostering systemic changes across Europe. Improving job opportunities, scientific excellence, and creative innovation, the Horizon Europe proposal supports cross-functional teams to drive economic growth and create better living conditions.

Three pillars of Horizon Europe

Open Science Global Challenges Open Innovation
Open Science pillar supports researchers through fellowships and exchanges as well as funding the projects defined and driven by researchers themselves, through the European Research Council and the Marie-Skłodowska-Curie actions. The Global Challenges pillar directly supports research relating to societal challenges, setting EU-wide missions with ambitious goals around issues that worry us daily, such as the fight against cancer, clean mobility, and plastic-free oceans. Industrial leadership will be prominent within this pillar and throughout the programme as a whole. The Open Innovation pillar aims to make Europe a front runner in market-creating innovation. The European Innovation Council will offer a one-stop shop for high potential and breakthrough technologies and innovative companies with potential for scaling up.

“Horizon Europe will have simpler rules, cutting red tape for beneficiaries”, European Commission

Background

On June 7, 2018, the European Commission (EC), published its 9th framework proposal to address innovation shortfalls and improve research and technological advancements, called Horizon Europe. The new proposal enables programme achievements to be measured, while ensuring strategic management and budgetary flexibility.

Additionally, a European Innovation Council has been tasked with supporting creative innovations and ideas to ensure that Europe remains a strong leader in the global economy. This initiative will offer select innovators all the start-up support and funding they need to bring bright ideas into the market.

Key performance indicators for Horizon 2020 (H2020) include 65,000 researchers under Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions or 25 publications plus 1 patent application for every €10 million in FET funding. Horizon Europe focuses on improving the objectives in the previous framework, H2020, by supporting a broad range of member state science and research projects.

Horizon Europe will include research and innovation missions to increase funding efficiency by achieving clearly defined goals. The lessons learned from the H2020 Interim Evaluation, motivate four Key Novelties in Horizon Europe – European Innovation Council (EIC), R&I Missions, extended association possibilities and open science policy, and a new approach to partnerships.

Mission boards are spearheading five major initiatives – to end cancer, address climate change, clean oceans, develop climate-neutral cities, and produce healthy food. Each of these five boards consists of 15 well-respected experts from a pool of talented citizens along with academic, financial, and industry leaders. These experts will contribute creative ideas for resolving regional, national, and international issues.

Timeline

The EC plans to accomplish Horizon Europe’s goals for societal transformation, beginning with its highly anticipated 2021 launch date. The goals of the project form a framework for accomplishing measurable milestones from 2021 to 2027.

The implementation of Horizon Europe is dependent on funding approval by the European Parliament and the European Council, which is expected in 2019.

Adapting the H2020 framework, Horizon Europe’s three pillars include Global challenges, Open Science, and Open Innovation.

After implementation, the global challenges initiatives will spend seven years focusing on Health, Inclusive and Secure Societies, Digital and Industry, Climate, Energy and Mobility, Food and Natural Resources. Open Science addresses scientific advances with fellowships, public dissemination, and open publications, in order to foster the prolific exchange of ideas generated through research and collaboration. Open Innovations will help maximize the potential of EU’s business and technology in global markets.

Budget

In 2018, the EC budget designated €100 billion to support H2020 and its associated programmes. In agreement with the EU budget, planners wish to allocate €97.6 billion in funding to Horizon Europe programmes, and €2.4 billion for Euratom research and training. Since member states must approve the budget unanimously, in addition to a simple majority in the European Parliament, negotiations will likely result in budget changes or reductions.

The European University Association supports an even higher funding threshold to create extensive job opportunities from research and innovation. An analysis by Universities UK predicts that Horizon Europe would generate enormous growth by adding £95 billion to Britain’s economy and creating more than 940,000 job opportunities in the UK alone.

Advocates are seeking to secure public support for these initiatives, which may increase EU science spending by 50 percent, by 2027. Some EU members oppose the new funding plan because it calls for cuts to agriculture spending and reallocating funds to other projects. Horizon Europe is also more expensive than almost €80 billion budgeted H2020. Opponents call the new budget unacceptable, and independent agencies predict a significant reduction to the budget prior to final approval. Yet, experts predict that Horizon Europe will contribute €11 to Europe’s GDP over the next 25 years for every Euro invested.

In an unprecedented effort, the European research and innovation associations jointly demand that the EU increase the budget for Horizon Europe in its multi-year budget 2021-27 to at least 120 billion euros.

Structure

Horizon Europe supports an inclusive structure that widens collaboration and enhances research and innovation systems throughout the continent. The three pillars support the creation and diffusion of excellent knowledge, expected outcomes, including expanding access to research, improving economic opportunity, and innovating collaborative processes.

Mission boards will propose and implement specific objectives, relating to areas of expertise, such as cancer prevention, climate change, and food resources. These proposals encourage engagement from citizens to ensure alignment with EU priorities. The overall impact will bridge the gap between citizens and the innovations that affect their daily lives.

Researchers expect to resolve global challenges and improve conditions worldwide by targeting ground-breaking initiatives. Sustainable goals will address societal needs, as outlined in the proposal. Regional innovations will also benefit Europe’s innovation ecosystems to ensure advantages for its citizens in technology, economics, science, and health.

Criticisms

Some European universities are fighting to change Horizon Europe budget distribution, claiming that innovation funding increases are being made at the expense of research money. It is one of several challenges that the proposal faces in obtaining final budgetary approval, with some researchers noting that the 22 percent increase in funding is not equitably distributed.

On 21 March 2018 13 groups, including several research universities, claim the existing funding is not sufficient, because it only supports one in five quality research proposals. These groups support approving additional funding to increase GDP by nearly 50 percent over the project’ implementation period.

Some experts suggest that the proposal lacks significant health research funding to address global health problems, such as malaria and tuberculosis. Horizon Europe designates 8.2 percent of the budget to health research, down from 9.7 percent in the H2020 proposal.

These concerns are subjective, as stakeholders throughout Europe stand to benefit from Horizon Europe’s funds. The negotiation process may involve hotly contested, diverging viewpoints on the best way to fund this extensive project and how to draft an agreement that adds value in a manner that satisfies the various sectors.

Increase efficiency and lower costs

Several details of the programme still need to be clarified in the course of next year, but it is already time for potential applicants to reflect on what project ideas and partnerships they would like to launch, and in particular how to make the collaboration during the project planning effective.

With a success rate of less than 12% in H2020, your project proposal must be accurate and prepared efficiently. With EMDESK you can optimize collaboration and cut down administrative burden by more than 30%.