In 2011, the EU Heads of State and Government called on the European Commission (EC) to bring together all of the previous EU research and innovation funding under a single common strategic framework. This has led to the launch of Horizon 2020, the 8th EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation.

The total available budget under Horizon 2020 will be around €79bn, from 2014 through to 2020. This is €20bn in excess of the 7th Framework Programme.

Seen as a means to create jobs, drive economic growth and help secure Europe's global competitiveness, Horizon 2020 has the political backing of Europe's leaders and the Members of the European Parliament. They agree that research is an investment in our future and so put it at the heart of the EU's blueprint for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth and jobs. Indeed, the EC estimates that €1 of EU Framework Programme funding results in an increase of industry added value of between €7 and €14. It also finds that Member States which invest in research and development are recovering faster from the economic crisis.

Horizon 2020 is focused on three main pillars:

  • Excellent science (boosting top-level research)
  • Industrial leadership (investment in key technologies, greater access to capital and support for SMEs
  • Societal challenges (breakthrough solutions from multi-disciplinary collaboration in areas such as health, demographic change or climate).

In particular, the EU believes that research and innovation can offer solutions to overcome the grand challenges that face the EU and the rest of the world; challenges such as:

  • Energy security
  • Climate change
  • Environmental degradation
  • The exclusion of vulnerable groups
  • The ageing population
  • Global health threats
  • Demographic development.

By coupling research and innovation, the goal of the Horizon 2020 programme as a whole is to ensure Europe produces world-class science, removes barriers to innovation and makes it easier for the public and private sectors to work together, creating a genuine single market for knowledge, research and innovation. International co-operation is going to be crucial to address many of the Horizon 2020 objectives.

Horizon 2020 in brief

UK Research Office (UKRO - the European office of the UK Research Councils, to which UEA subscribes)

CORDIS (the EC’s primary portal to disseminate information on all EU-funded research projects and their results)

Participant Portal (entry point for EC calls and electronic administration of EU-funded research and innovation projects, and hosts the services for managing Horizon 2020 proposals and projects throughout their lifecycle)