Generous budget for research and innovation

The EU framework programme interlinks research and innovation. Its funding benefits individual scientists and large networks alike, and supports both basic research and the development of innovative products. 

The European Research Area (ERA) mobilises knowledge for a strong Europe. With funding provided by the European Commission, global challenges are addressed on a common basis, founded on knowledge and innovation developed across borders. To ensure that money is spent where it is needed, the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation supports eligible projects across the continent. In addition to purely research-based work, it enables the development of topical innovations such as apps that can alert users to health risks or resource-saving materials. The EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation has proven itself a key instrument in the further development of the European Research Area. Its budget has grown steadily since the 1980s.

The world’s largest funding programme for research and innovation

Since its inception in 2014, almost 75 billion euros have been invested in the current EU framework programme, “Horizon 2020” – making it the world’s most ambitious funding programme for research and innovation. By July 2020, almost 30,000 projects with over 144,000 participants from research institutions, businesses, and organisations had received funding. Researchers from 175 countries worked together on these projects in a spirit of sharing and cooperation. Since its launch, German recipients have been funded to the tune of some 8.25 billion euros; institutions in Germany have participated in “Horizon 2020” projects more than 16,000 times.1

“Horizon Europe” with key changes 

The successor programme, “Horizon Europe”, starts on 1 January 2021 and will also run for seven years. It will continue its predecessor’s approaches and objectives, albeit with some key changes, including “missions” on topics such as “healthy oceans, seas, coastal and inland waters” or “climate-neutral and smart cities” The European Innovation Council, a body designed to support the commercialisation of innovations, will be established.

Research without borders

Cooperative research, i.e. cross-border cooperation in the European Union, will remain the cornerstone of joint research in Europe. Joint projects are initiated not only by universities and research institutions, but also by businesses and civil society organisations. Each joint scientific enquiry and every different cooperation project therefore brings Europe a little closer together. And not just Europe, either – alongside EU member states, partners from anywhere in the world can participate in projects within the framework programme. These projects address global challenges and master them with the essential contribution of research – be it climate change, the threat of pandemics, or greener transport solutions. 

Talent pool for a new generation of researchers

The EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation is also a talent incubator. Efficient scientific networks are being created – for example, through the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions, which specifically support young researchers in European PhD networks. The European Innovation Council (EIC) also supports the careers of outstanding young scientists, and offers established researchers the opportunity to focus exclusively on their pioneering work for five years. The coveted EIC funds have become an internationally recognised driver of excellence in European research.

Related links:

  • Detailed information (in German) on European research funding can be found at horizont2020.de.
  • Anyone wishing to participate in “Horizon 2020” or “Horizon Europe” can obtain initial advice by calling +49 228 38 21-20 20 or sending an email to h2020@dlr.de.
  • A list of central advisory services in Germany can be found here: horizont2020.de/beratung.

The structure of “Horizon Europe”

Europe needs an excellent knowledge base and close cooperation to master global challenges. Translating scientific findings into innovations is the key to Europe’s competitiveness

The Structure of Horizon

European Commission (https://ec.europa.eu/info/horizon-europe-next-research-and-innovation-framework-programme_en)

The successor programme, “Horizon Europe,” is based on three pillars, each with a specific focus:  
The first pillar, “Excellent Science,” offers particularly outstanding individual researchers attractive opportunities to develop their scientific profiles, for example with research stays abroad. Joint European research infrastructures are also supported.
Within the second pillar, “Global Challenges and European Industrial Competitiveness,” researchers work together to develop solutions to the most pressing issues we face today. It also supports technologies to help European industry expand its global leadership role – such as IT and biotechnology. 
The “Innovative Europe” pillar is predominantly directed at innovative businesses. Research findings need to be translated into practice as quickly as possible to create new products and services.
These three pillars are complemented by a fourth element in the programme, “Widening Participation and Strengthening the European Research Area,” to help future-proof the European science system. As one example, it assists regions with weaker research and innovation capabilities in achieving excellence.


1Source: H2020 eCorda Contracts Database, retrieved on 01/07/2020; Project status: contractually negotiated and completed projects