Is Horizon 2020 for you?

If you are active in research or developing innovative products or services, European research and innovation projects might interest you. Horizon 2020 addresses a wide range of target groups, such as Research Organisations, individual researchers, SMEs, and large companies. 

Research Organisations

Research organisations and universities, both private and public, are a key beneficiary of the Horizon 2020 programme, by acting as participants in collaborative research projects (under topics of the Societal Challenges priority, for example), or as host institutions for EU research fellows under the Marie Sklodowska Curie or the ERC programme. A novel feature, non-for-profit organisations will benefit from 100% funding for both research and innovation projects.

Individual researchers

The European Research Council supports the most talented and creative individuals and their teams to carry out frontier research. Applications can come from any field of research, from investigators of any career stage and age, with excellence being the sole criterion for awarding an ERC grant. The 2014 ERC Work Programme foresees funding under three types of instruments: starting grants, consolidator grants, and advanced grants.

The Marie Curie Actions provide researchers with training and career development opportunities. Mobility to another country is a key requirement in the Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions.

  • Innovative Training Networks (ITN) support joint research training or doctoral programmes implemented by partnerships of universities, research institutions, research infrastructures or SMEs.
  • Individual Fellowships (IF) supports individual, trans-national fellowships awarded to promising researchers. Applications are made jointly by the researchers and host organisation in the academic or non-academic sectors.

Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs)

Private companies are eligible for European funding for research and innovation. In addition, the European Union specifically addresses SMEs as potential beneficiaries of Horizon 2020. Including more SMEs into European research and innovation projects will be achieved thanks to a variety of particular measures and instruments that take into account small companies’ needs and expectations.

The European Commission intends for 20% of resources to be allocated to SMEs from the budgets for the societal challenges and enabling and industrial technologies, either within projects or through targeted measures.

  • The programme Access to risk finance  will help companies and other types of organisation engaged in research and innovation to gain easier access, via financial instruments, to loans, guarantees, counter-guarantees and hybrid, mezzanine and equity finance. These financial instrument facilities will be implemented by the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the European Investment Fund (EIF).
  • The  “ SME instrument covers different types of innovation and supports SMEs up to market replication. It is a rather open scheme with regular cut-off dates that covers feasibility studies (lump sum funding), a demonstration and scaling-up phase, and a market introduction phase with dedicated measures for access to finance..
  • The  Leadership in Enabling and Industrial Technologies" scheme, similar to the SME instrument, is a semi-open programme on topics from the second and third priority (Industrial Leadership and Societal Challenges).
  • The will continue under Horizon 2020. This programme  will target research-intensive SMEs on a bottom-up basis.

The food sector is characterised by a strong participation of SMEs, and the field of sustainable food security (Work Programme part 9 – Food security, sustainable agriculture and forestry, marine and maritime and inland water research in the bioeconomy) has a special SME focus.

Large companies

Creating industrial leadership is one of the three targets of Horizon 2020. In order to do so, private sector research and development and innovation investment has to be stimulated, by linking it to the generation of business opportunities. Known as the “Industrial leadership” priority, this part of Horizon 2020 will support investments in excellent research and innovation in key enabling technologies and other industrial technologies, and facilitate access to risk finance for innovative companies and projects.

The identified enabling and industrial technologies cover: