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What is Horizon 2020?

Horizon 2020 is the research and innovation programme of EU. With nearly EUR 75 billion of funding, the programme is available over 7 years (2014 to 2020), and offers funding for researchers, companies, entrepreneurs, organisations, regions etc.

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

The first pillar is "Excellent science" which focuses on basic research. The European Research Council (ERC) give grants to researchers and teams of researchers based on scientific excellence of the applications.

This pillar funds future and emerging technologies (FET) and researcher mobility (Marie Sklodowska-Curie Action (MSCA)) and large European research infrastructures. 

"Leadership in enabling and industrial technologies" (LEIT) is the second pillar. 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 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).

The third pillar funds potential solutions to social and economic problems, "Societal challenges", in the following six sub-programmes:

  • Health
  • Bioeconomy
  • Energy
  • Transport
  • Climate
  • Inclusive societies
  • Secure societies

This pillar also funds the themes: "Science with and for society" and "Spreading excellence and widening participation".

The opportunities under each area is described in work programmes - these can be found on the European Commissions Funding & Tenders Portal site:

Who can Recieve Funding?

Horizon 2020 is for innovative companies, universities, research institutions, public institutions, NGOs and others who can help increase the competitiveness of Europe through their projects.

Funding is allocated in open competition and will go to the most innovative ideas, the best research and the strongest consortia.


Each year, the European Commission publishes the specific topics for each area where funding is available through Horizon 2020. You can see the calls/topics here:


last modified Aug 29, 2019