Horizon Europe

The Innovator's Guide to Horizon Europe Grant

Horizon Europe is a European Commission (EC) research and innovation programme that runs from 2021 to 2027. With a budget of €95.5 billion, the goal of the programme is to turn cutting edge research and innovation into real-world applications and support the growth of innovative start-up companies. 

UK entities, including universities, research centres, scientists and businesses, are eligible to participate in the full Horizon Europe programme, with a few exceptions. UK entities are not eligible to participate in the European Innovation Council (EIC) Fund within the EIC Accelerator. UK entities can apply for grants under the Accelerator, but they will not be eligible for loans or equity. Additionally, the UK will not participate in the European Defence Fund. Other than that, UK entities will participate in Horizon Europe with the same rights and obligations as organisations from other participating countries. For more details on UK participation in Horizon Europe, the EC has a handy Q&A document.

The Short Version

  • Horizon Europe is the European Commission’s research and innovation funding programme.
  • UK-based researchers and organisations can apply to most Horizon Europe funding opportunities on the same terms as EU-based applicants.
  • Everything happens on the European Commission Funding & Tenders Portal (lists of grants and tenders, application forms, guides and instructions).

Missions, Pillars and Clusters

Horizon Europe is a massive programme in scope, funding and in the number of ways to participate.   The programme has five broad mission areas:

  1. Adaptation to climate change
  2. Cancer
  3. Healthy oceans, seas, coastal and inland waters
  4. Climate-neutral and smart cities
  5. Soil health and food

Within these mission areas, the programme is looking to fund projects across healthcare, digital technology, robotics and AI, transportation infrastructure and agriculture. These specific areas are organised into pillars and clusters in order to organise and administer the programme.

Pillar I: Excellent Science

The Excellent Science pillar supports innovative research projects defined by the researchers themselves, funds fellowships for experienced researchers, doctoral training networks and exchanges for researchers, and invests in world-class research infrastructures. The Excellent Science pillar includes these initiatives:

Pillar II: Global Challenges and European Industrial Competitiveness

The Global Challenges and European Industrial Competitiveness pillar supports research relating to societal challenges and helps build technological and industrial capacities through clustered projects. It also includes activities that support EU and national policymakers with independent scientific evidence and technical support.  

Clusters
This pillar also includes: Non-nuclear direct actions of the Joint Research Centre

Pillar III: Innovative Europe

The Innovative Europe pillar supports transformative, market-creating innovation, and fosters the integration of education, research and innovation.

How to Participate

The EC Funding and Tenders Portal has everything you need to get started, enrol in the programme and submit your application. It even includes manuals and application templates so you can see what kind of information is required.

1) Find a suitable call for proposal

The European Commission and its funding bodies publish calls for proposals on the Funding & Tenders Portal. As of the writing of this article, there weren’t so many tenders that you couldn’t scan them all fairly quickly, but you can use keywords and filters pertaining to your business to save time. Select the Horizon programme from the menu and click on an opportunity to read documents, guidance and other instructions on the opportunity.

2) Find project partners (optional)

Different opportunities can have different partnership and eligibility requirements. You can use this section to find a partner based on their profile and past participation in the programme.

3) Create an EU Login account

You’ll need an EU login account to log onto the portal, submit a proposal and report on your project. You can use an existing account, if you have one.  

4) Register your organisation

The Participant Register is the European Commission’s online tool to register and manage the data of all organisations participating in EU programmes. You will receive a 9-digit Participant Identification Code (PIC) that will serve as a reference in all interactions with the Commission. You can also search to see whether your organisation is already registered.

5) Submit your grant proposal

Select your topic and go to the Submission Service section of the topic page. The link to the submission system will only be available if the status of the call is ‘open’. 

Other Resources

UK Research and Innovation has some additional resources for UK entities who would like to participate in Horizon Europe. Resources include free access to National Contact Points (NCPs), a group appointed by the UK government with specific knowledge of each funding programme with Horizon Europe.

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