What’s on the Horizon for European funding


Category: Public funding

Keywords: Grants, Horizon 2020, Horizon Europe, Public Funding Case, SME Instrument


What’s on the Horizon for European funding

European-wide public funding for research & innovation is making changes this year. The current funding framework, Horizon 2020, is coming to an end and a new framework with new priorities will launch in 2021. How have businesses like yours utilized the money? What are the chances of success? What is left to capture in this last year and what is coming next? Read on to learn how your business can consider European funding to support your innovative business development or contact Excedea to get to know your options.

Horizon 2020: Successes & Challenges

European public funding is organized into seven-year-long “framework programs” which outline priorities and drive budgets and spending. The current framework, Horizon 2020, is an €80 billion research and innovation program open between 2014 and 2020, and is broken into 3 pillars: Excellent Science, Innovative Leadership and Societal Challenges. H2020 is popular, with 25,686 grant agreements signed on 209,378 eligible submitted proposals in the past 6 years. This translates to applicants having a 12.2% chance of winning funding on average (otherwise known as the success rate). To date, over €46 billion has been distributed to projects in areas such as health, food security and ICT innovation. All the EU countries have taken advantage of these funding instruments, with the Nordic countries submitting substantial numbers of applications and succeeding slightly more than the EU average:

  • Sweden was 7th highest in applications submitted with over 15 000 eligible applications resulting in 2464 grants or a 14,67% success rate.
  • Finland was 10th in applications submitted with over 11 000 application resulting in 1555 grants or a 13% success rate.

Horizon 2020 has been particularly active for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). Across Europe, SMEs have submitted 173 349 applications and 25 110 have been granted at a rate of 14%.

What’s Next?  Horizon Europe

Building on the success of Horizon 2020, the European Commission has proposed an even larger research and innovation agenda to succeed it. Horizon Europe is an ambitious €100 billion research and innovation program that will launch 1 January 2021.  It is again broken into 3 pillars: Excellent Science, Global Challenges & European Industrial Competitiveness, and Innovative Europe. The framework program will run from 2021-2027 and while details are still in development some information is emerging:

  • Blended financing for SMEs: H2020’s extremely popular “SME Instrument” program which provided grant funding to innovative SMEs is evolving into the EIC Accelerator which will offer a blend of public and equity funding. Currently in its pilot phase the EIC will be formalized in 2021 under Horizon Europe with €10 billion to innovators through two main funding instruments – the Pathfinder for advanced research (for early-stage research) and the Accelerator, a blended financing model (grants plus equity). The good news is that SMEs are now eligible for €17M for innovative research, innovation and commercialization – grants from € 0.5 to 2.5 million and equity investment up to €15 million.
  • Horizon Europe will take a mission-oriented approach, which means setting defined goals, with specific targets to tackle known global challenges. The specific missions are not yet announced but discussions so far have centered on cancer, climate change, healthy oceans, smart cities, and soil health & food.
  • Different partnership structures will be explored including partnerships with EU countries, the private sector, foundations and other stakeholders.

Bridging the Gap: 2020-2021

Horizon Europe launches 1 January 2021.  In the lead-up to the launch more information will be released about the budget and priorities, and many details will continue to be sorted out after January 2021.  If history is a guide, we expect there will be a “slow down” of funding programs in late 2020 to early 2021 as Horizon 2020 wraps up and programs shift to Horizon Europe.  A few funding opportunities that have been consistently running in H2020 have already ceased and others, such as the EIC Accelerator mentioned above, are being piloted in 2020 in preparation for their updated format in the Horizon Europe framework.

What does this mean for your business?

The first three quarters of 2020 are an excellent time to pursue public funding for your innovative R&D and business development ideas. There are significant funds that remain to be disbursed in H2020 and almost all programs will have exciting opportunities and, in some cases, a “sneak peek” of what is to come over the next 7 years.



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