Horizon 2020

Horizon 2020 is the eighth phase of the Framework Programmes for Research and Technological Development (also called Framework Programmes; hence the project's alternative name of 'FP8'), funding programmes created by the European Union in order to support and encourage research in the European Research Area (ERA). It implements Europe 2020 and Innovation Union strategies. The programme runs from 2014–2020 and provides an estimated €80 billion of funding, an increase of 23 per cent on the previous phase.

The project became embroiled with the 2014 referendums held by Switzerland, which opted to impose a quota on immigration between that country and the EU. Switzerland, which maintains bilateral agreements with the EU, was intended to be a participant of Horizon 2020, but negotiations that would have ensured this were put on hold in the aftermath of the decision. Turkey joined this funding program. This funding programme also includes Israel, which joined after protracted negotiations about whether funding could be directed to projects beyond the Green Line; eventually the two parties agreed to disagree, and Israel published its views in an Appendix to the official documents. Open access is an underlying principle of Horizon 2020, intended to improve research results, create greater efficiency, improve transparency and accelerate innovation.

The programme consists of three main research areas that are called "pillars":

  • The first pillar, "Excellent science" focuses on basic science. It has a budget of 24 billion euro. The European Research Council (ERC) delivers 13 billion euro to researchers and teams of researchers based on scientific excellence of the applications. This pillar funds future and emerging technologies (FET, €2.7 billion) and researcher mobility (Marie Skłodowska-Curie Action (MSCA), €6.1 billion) and large European research infrastructures (€2.5 billion).
    • MSCA supports the career development and training of researchers at all stages of their careers. It is the main EU programme for doctoral training funding 25 000 PhDs during 7 years. It co-funds national PhD programmes. Other MSCA funding targets research networks, fellowships for individual researchers, research staff exchanges and arrange "European Researchers' Night"-event annually on the last Friday of September.
  • "Leadership in enabling and industrial technologies" (LEIT) is the second pillar with a budget of 14 billion euro. It is managed by DG Enterprise and based on Europe 2020 and Innovation Union strategies. The pillar consists of six sub-programmes:
    • Information and communication technologies
    • Nanotechnologies
    • Advanced materials
    • Advanced manufacturing and processing
    • Biotechnology
    • Space
  • These technologies all have European technology platforms (ETP; fora for research communities to meet) with their respective strategic research agendas (SRA). Some technologies have long term funding instruments, such as joint technology initiatives (JTI). Some technologies are labelled key enabling technologies (KET).

    This pillar contains special efforts to SME funding and gives also risk financing (2.8 billion euro) e.g. through loans of the European Investment Bank.

    • The third pillar funds potential solutions to social and economic problems, "Societal challenges", in the following six sub-programmes:
      • Health (€7.5 billion)
      • Food, water, forestry, bioeconomy (€3.8 billion)
      • Energy (€5.9 billion)
      • Transport (€6.3 billion)
      • Environment including climate change adaptation and raw materials (€3.1 billion)
      • European society (€1.3 billion)
      • Security (€1.7 billion)
    • This pillar also funds themes names as "Science with and for society" (€0.5 billion) and "Spreading excellence and widening participation" (€0.8 billion).

      The structure follows the previous framework programme (FP7, 2007-2013) to the level of the sub-programmes under the pillars. In the industrial pillar the goal is to find ways to modernize European industries that have suffered from a fragmented European market. In societal challenges the goal is implementation of solutions, less on technology development.

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