to help you get on top of the Horizon 2020 Work Programmes, Laura Greenhalgh and Inga Vesper have prepared a list of handy summaries. These include details about call topics and budgets, as well as some analysis on recent trends and future prognoses for scientific fields covered by these programmes.
Enjoy the read!
Pillar I - Excellent Science
Pillar II - Industrial Leadership
Pillar III - Societal Challenges
European Research Council (download)
The major streams of the European Research Council—the Starting, Consolidator and Advanced grants—will remain unchanged heading into Horizon 2020, reflecting the fact that those both inside and outside the Commission believe that the funding programme is working well.
Funds will still be granted to individuals to carry out basic research, and be fully portable in line with current rules. Previous recipients of funds will also be entitled to apply for Proof of Concept grants, to develop basic research into a product or innovation closer to the market.
However, the future of the ERC’s funding stream for groups of individuals—the Synergy grants—remains in question, as this fund was conducted as a pilot under Framework 7. The work programme states that the ERC’s governance will “analyse the pilot phase of the Synergy Grant before deciding on the scope and timing of future calls”, but confirms the programme will not recommence during 2014.
Applications for both the Starting Grants and Consolidator grants, open on 11 December. The ERC estimates it expects to fund close to 400 of each type of grant. Those hoping to win an Advanced grant will have to wait until June 2014 for the call to open, from which around 200 individuals are likely to be successful.
Around 44 per cent of winners will be from the physical sciences and engineering, 39 per cent from the life sciences and the remaining 17 per cent from social science and humanities, the ERC estimates.
In 2015, there will be a second round of calls for all three programmes, with the estimates indicating slightly fewer grants are to be awarded for the less experienced researchers, and more for Advanced grantees. This follows the development of a spate of initiatives in member states, who aim to fund unsuccessful starting grant applicants to keep them in their home country.
In a change from previous years, the ERC has decided to strengthen the rules preventing reapplication in 2015 from those that were previously unsuccessful—no doubt an attempt to combat the rapidly decreasing success rates caused by significant oversubscription.
Future and Emerging Technologies (download)
A relatively obscure section of Horizon 2020, Future and Emerging Technologies is funded under pillar one of the programme, which is for basic research. However, FET is targeted at technologies—meaning it is essentially the Commission’s attempt to think outside the box and fund early-stage research that could be the next big innovation.
However, with an unclear target group, and no obvious champion lobby (neither basic nor applied), the FET segment received a cut in its proposed budget from the €3.5 billion originally proposed by the Commission, and will get only €2.7bn under Horizon 2020.
FET Open carries on from a pilot in Framework 7 to fund early stage technology-orientated research. In this area, the Commission is looking for interdisciplinary, high-risk projects related to novel technologies. It plans to spend €80 million per year in 2014 and 2015, for bottom-up project proposals in this area.
The second call, FET Proactive, supports the creation of clusters related to four pre-determined topics. These will cover modeling systems for science policy and cognition and robots, as well as quantum technologies. The fourth cluster, covering mega-scale computing systems, will be coordinated with photonics and the joint programming initiative on electronic systems, under the industrial pillar. This is a big winner in the budget, receiving nearly €100 million in 2014.
Meanwhile, this programme stream will also fund the Commission’s two major flagship projects—Graphene and the Human Brain Project—which were announced earlier this year. Presumably to give them time to get up and running, the main payout for this won’t come until 2015, when the two projects will receive around €180bn.
The FET calls have different evaluation criteria weighting compared to other Horizon 2020 projects, to take account of the fact that the area is intended to fall between basic research and applied innovation. Projects under this section will also be part of the Commission’s open data pilot, due to launch under Horizon 2020 to investigate possibilities for making the results of research freely available.
Marie Sklodowska-Curie actions (download)
Whilst the Marie Curie programme for researcher training was championed by MEPs in Horizon 2020 negotiations, the programme will actually receive a smaller share of the total budget than it did under Framework 7—receiving 8 per cent in Horizon 2020, compared to 9.4 per cent previously.
This has been criticised by those who believe the initiative is a great system to train research and fund mobility, whilst serving as a stepping stone for many on the way to receiving one of the highly-sought after ERC grants. Marie Curie actions pay for researchers to undertake a period of training in another country, and are seen as of great benefit particularly to female researchers, because of the gender balance achieved by the programme.
However, the Marie Curie Action under Framework 7 have been criticised for being overly complex, meaning that the plan to streamline the existing nine actions into four awards under the revamped Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions will be welcomed by many.
Under Horizon 2020, the existing initial training networks will be morphed into the Innovative Training Networks, to support early-stage researchers at post-graduate level, who are still within the first four years of their research careers. Initiatives such as the European Industrial Doctorates will fall into this category, which are agreed between two or more member countries of the programme.
Meanwhile, the Individual Fellowships action will be used to fund travel for more experienced researchers, with a doctoral degree or at least four years of research experience, as was done under the fellowship action lines in Framework 7.
The RISE call will support academic exchanges between individuals from at least three countries, taking over from activities currently within the Industry-Academia Partnerships and Pathways scheme, as well as the International Research Staff Exchange Scheme.
Finally, the COFUND action will continue to focus on fellowships for all types of researchers, which are jointly supported by the EU and national organisations that fund doctoral programmes.
A total of €817 million will be spent on the programme in 2014, with €754 million anticipated for 2015. Early-career researchers will receive the most money, through the ITN, followed by the later-stage individual fellowships. Calls for the first round of the ITN and RISE programmes will be launched on 11 December, with the IF programme on 12 March 2014 and the COFUND programme on 10 April 2014.
Research Infrastructures (download)
Funding for research infrastructure under Horizon 2020 is heavily linked to the ESFRI, the Commission’s initiative to create successful infrastructures that are universally accessible in Europe. The target of this programme is to begin construction of at least 60 per cent of the projects chosen under the Esfri plan by 2015.
The RI work programme has obvious links with ICT under the Leadership in Enabling and Industrial Technologies branch, because of the need for data management and the fact that some infrastructures, particularly in the humanities and social sciences, may be entirely information-based. Several of the calls are targeted at finding ways to deal with the emerging deluge of data from RIs.
For Horizon 2020, the three main calls for RI funding in the first two years cover the preparation of facilities, better integration across Europe, and the development of e-infrastructures. Under the preparation call, with €199 million in 2014-15, applicants can apply for money for technical and strategy planning, and for implementation projects to get facilities up and running—or to transfer to an ERIC, the Commission’s latest legal structure for infrastructure projects.
With around €140m for the first two years, the integration call is to improve the efficiency of facilities by making them more accessible to researchers from further afield, and to harmonise data policies in infrastructures in similar subject areas. This call includes a significant focus on technical solutions to deal with data on a large scale.
The third main call, for e-infrastructures, includes support for the global Research Data Alliance and the Géant network for researchers, as well as other internet-based infrastructures. Facilities funded under this topic, which will receive €177m from 2014-15, will take part in the Horizon 2020 pilot for open data.
Research infrastructures is an area in which Horizon 2020 could potentially be supplemented by money from the Structural Funds, allocated to regions to promote economic developments. Applicants should definitely find out if the objectives of a particular infrastructure match with the priorities outlined in their regions’ innovation strategy—since the Structural funds are expected to invest a further €90bn in R&I over the next seven years.
Leadership in enabling and industrial technologies - ICT (download)
It was the largest single spending pot of Framework 7, and is yet again set to receive a budget boost: Information and Communications Technologies remains a priority for research spending throughout Horizon 2020.
When Framework 7 was under preparation in the mid-2000s, ICT was the fastest-growing field of industrial R&D in Europe. Consequently, the EU made a total of €8.3 available for ICT research between 2007 and 2013. But since the financial crisis and the decline of European companies such as Nokia and Philips, enthusiasm about spending on ICT has somewhat dampened.
The ICT work programme, nestled within Horizon 2020’s Industrial Leadership pillar, determines the direction of a total budget of €774 million in 2014, and €845m in 2015, demonstrating that ICT remains one of the larger budgets in the Framework Programme. By far the largest amount of this funding—€703.5m—will go to straightforward ICT calls covering computing, components and systems, internet technologies, nanotechnologies and big data. Some of the money will also go to collaboration, most notably with Brazil and Japan.
Smaller amounts to money, around the €10m mark, are to be distributed as prizes and for expert panels and conferences.
A point of note from the ICT work programme is that no set budget has been provided for the Fast Track to Innovation pilot scheme, which will be trialled across several areas of Horizon 2020 in 2015. For this, funding applications can be made throughout the year with three cut-off dates for evaluation. Grants under this scheme will be worth no more than €3m, and their purpose is to guarantee financing of pilot projects within six months of the funding application.
The Commission seems to have learned from the mistakes of ICT funding in Framework 7, which was focused largely on existing technologies like mobile phones and internet. This time, more money is available for fields where true progress is happening, such as cloud computing, translation tools, nanotechnology and robotics. However, gaming, a small but important research field in which Europe still has some world leading companies, has again largely been ignored.
Under Framework 7, research policymakers made a mistake with ICT: they largely failed to truly embrace the risk involved in this fast-moving field, and instead settled for funding science and R&D that had, to put it frankly, kind of been done. The Horizon 2020 ICT work programme promises a change towards true innovation, but it remains to be seen whether the Commission will be able to make good on this promise.
Leadership in enabling and industrial technologies – Space (download)
Space research will see a fairly significant budget boost under Horizon 2020, as it is set to receive €1.7bn over the seven-year duration. Under Framework 7, the space component received €1.3bn, and around 85 per cent of this was concentrated on the Galileo and Copernicus technology development.
From 2014, spending on the infrastructure of these programmes has been moved outside the Horizon 2020 envelope, leaving more money for other research. However, the Galileo and Copernicus flagship programmes will continue to dominate in the first two years of Horizon 2020. The Commission has said it wants to get downstream application services for the projects up and running, so that when the satellite constellations are in operation, they can start making money straight away.
Aside from projects to develop uses for Galileo and Copernicus data, improving the competitiveness of the space industry ranks highly in the first two years of the programme, with calls focused on maintaining the EU’s independent access to space, and its leadership in profitable technologies.
Within this area, the Commission is experimenting with a new approach to funding EU space projects through Strategic Research Clusters, under which funded will be allocated according to a pre-defined plan, rather than the usual bottom up calls. The first step for these initiatives will be developing the so-called ‘roadmap’—a task which can be won in the usual way, by a consortium of applicants from at least three member states.
Needless to say national research agencies and major companies will be very interested in being part of roadmap development. Two of these strategies are to be launched in 2014—on electrical propulsion, and robotics.
Under the first work programme, calls for the protection of satellites and preventing harm to the earth from asteroids and comets also feature strongly, as do projects specific to SMEs, with around €17 million to be distributed via the SME instrument.
Opportunities for space-related projects are to be found elsewhere, including areas such as climate action, transport and security under the societal challenges, and in enabling technologies like material sciences.
Leadership in enabling and industrial technologies - Nanotech, materials and processing (download)
This section, under the Leadership in Enabling and Industrial Technologies part of Horizon 2020, continues the work of the nanoscience and materials section of Framework 7—with the interesting addition of biotechnology—to add to the physical science-based areas of industry.
After the €3.5 billion paid out from 2007-13, this funding stream will receive somewhere in the region of €4.2bn under Horizon 2020. Most of this will remain within the physical industries, with around €0.5bn going to the biosciences over the seven-year programme. But despite continuation of this theme from Framework 7, the Commission has made an effort to focus on emerging areas of technology, including 3D printing and synthetic biology.
The work programme for the first two years is split into three main areas. The first call, NMP, covers all aspects of the nanotech and advanced materials research. As well as covering the research directed towards 3D printing and nano-medicine therapy, other parts of the call cover materials for low-carbon energy production and electric cars—providing overlaps with the climate, energy and transport societal challenges. This call will receive €230 million in 2014, and an estimated €254 million the following year.
The next biggest call, Factories of the Future, reflects the Commission’s attempt to retain some focus on the manufacturing industry in Europe, despite the rapid growth of next-generation and online technologies. Receiving around €80 million per year in the first two years of the programme, the FoF call will fund a public-private partnership, part supported by industry, to improve the technological based of manufacturing through the use of machines and ICT. It will be part funded through the ICT work programme.
Under the biotechnology call, BIOTECH, the Commission will spend €18m to develop synthetic organisms for medical or environmental applications. Other topics addressed are enzymatic processes and bioinformatics, bringing the total spend to €51m in 2014 and €32m in 2015.
Aside from these areas, minor calls cover the development of materials for energy efficient buildings and funding of the Sustainable Process Industries (SPIRE) public-private partnership, covering industries such as cement, ceramics and steel.
In 2015, a €4m prize is to be launched for materials research, that will involve the creative industries—meaning a collaboration between material scientists and designers, says the Commission. Specific details on the prize are yet to be developed says the Commission. However, it is serious about plans to use inducement prizes as a means to stimulate innovation, rather than relying on traditional research grants.
Around €15m from the 2014 budget will be used to fund research into waste and ICT-related research outlined in other areas of the programme.
Access to Risk Finance (download)
The access to risk finance is one of the parts of Horizon 2020 that was previously covered in the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework programme CIP—and as a result has strong links with the Commission’s new programme for small businesses, COSME, which also begins on 1 January.
Most of the instruments in this section of the programme are run by the EU’s two financial entities, the European Investment Bank and the European Investment Fund—and as a result don’t have the same specific call structure as the rest of Horizon 2020. Instead, details on when to apply for the instruments are listed on the Commissions webpage.
Under this work programme, the Commission is continuing three of its previous finance instruments. First up is the Risk Sharing Finance Facility, which will provide research and innovation loans of between €7.5 million and €300 million, for products and services that are “of societal important or constitute a public good”—namely, anything that matches up to the targets elsewhere in Horizon 2020. Not just for business, these will also be available to universities and can be used to fund infrastructure, for example.
Meanwhile, innovative SMEs will be supported by loans from the Risk Sharing Instrument, which includes a particular focus on climate-friendly innovations, or by equity from the European Investment Fund.
Previously, the Commission has been criticised by leading technology entrepreneur Hermann Hauser, for prioritising debt facilities in Horizon 2020 on the basis that some companies can struggle to finance debt. However, a Commission official told us that many companies actually prefer debt to equity, because of the fact that equity investment requires them to relinquish a share of their company, which many business owners are reluctant to do.
The Commission is also experimenting with a pilot finance instrument for technology transfer, which will provide money to part-fund projects with existing technology transfer funds. Institutions can also apply for funds to pay for facilities and staffing within technology transfer offices, under H2020-CBTT-2014.
In addition, the Commission is funding studies into the future of EU risk finance—such as how to improve mechanisms for venture capital and inducement prizes—which will likely go to science and technology consultancies.
Innovation in SMEs (download)
Small firms are set to receive a lot of support through Horizon 2020, thanks to successful lobbying from business groups and significant support from MEPs. The biggest gripe from small firm representatives about provisions in Framework 7 was that the companies often lost out when participating in big consortia, because they were rarely given the lead on large-scale projects, and because multi-year time frames are hard to contend with for a start-up firm.
As a result, small firms will have their own funding instrument under Horizon 2020, which will receive a significant chunk of the budget—a total of 20 per cent of pillars 2 and 3. Coupled with funding for specific networks like Eureka and the Enterprise Europe Network, this means SMEs will get nearly €10 billion from Horizon 2020.
Under the innovation in SMEs programme, the 2014-15 work programme includes calls for the development of an intellectual property helpdesk, a study to hammer out details of an innovation voucher programme, and a project to encourage bonding between national innovation agencies. Some of the money will also be used for support services to the Enterprise Europe Network and Eureka, which funds small business R&D.
Meanwhile, the SME instrument will be used to fund projects by high-growth companies under the industrial leadership and societal challenges pillars. A total of €9.3bn will be spent over the seven-year period; in 2014 and 2015, the biggest pockets of money can be found in health, energy and transport. The plan is to have an open call system, so companies can suggest ideas within the broad confines of the system at any time, with cut off dates for evaluation throughout the year.
Phase 1 of the SME instrument will fund a 6-month feasibility study, with up to up to €50,000 available. Whilst the application is short (10 pages), it requires firms to set out a clear business plan, and to have a new product development as part of that agenda.
In the second phase of the instrument, successful companies will be granted between €500,000 and €2.5 million for demonstration and piloting the product. Whilst the money will be available solely for SMEs, research and technology organisations may also be able to benefit from contracts under the projects.
Health, demographic change and wellbeing (download)
The major focus of the health work programme is personalised medicine, which appeared as one of the Commission top twelve areas to work on in 2014 and 2015, in its Horizon 2020 strategic plan. Under a single call, called PHC (personalizing health and care), the work programme covers topics as diverse as robots for assisted living, e-health, vaccine development and screening technologies. This call receives the lion’s share of the budget—more than €1 billion euros—split evenly between the first two years of the programme.
The move is undoubtedly the Commission’s attempt to tap into 21st century medicine, and the huge rise in both genetic sequencing and patient involvement in treatment. Other issues such as care for the elderly also rank highly, in light of the rapidly ageing population in Europe.
The rhetoric of the work programme has come under fire from public health groups, who argue it is too focused on profitable technologies stemming from genomics and biotechnology research. The result is that equally important fields like population studies and some of the most common diseases like obesity, are missing out, they say.
In total, health research will see a budget boost from the €6.1 billion spent under Framework 7, to €7.5bn under Horizon 2020—dominating nearly 10 per cent of the total budget for this Framework programme.
Aside from the PHC call, a relatively small amount will be spent on co-ordination activities under the HCO call, which includes funding for the European Innovation Partnership and Joint Programming Initiative on ageing. Seven ERA-NET calls are also planned, to improve the coordination of research funded by national research programmes.
The EU’s subscription to the global funding organization, the Human Frontier Science Program, will be funded from this challenge, with around €5 million per year. A similar amount will go to programme evaluation and conferences and outreach activities in 2014.
It will be interesting to see the direction that health research pursues under subsequent Horizon 2020 work programmes, since a Scientific Steering Board is to be established to direct future spending. Lobbied for by the members of the Alliance for Biomedical Research in Europe, the Commission-appointed board will interact with current advisory groups to push evidence-based policy in this field, says the alliance. The board will conduct consultations where necessary, but judging by the wording of the proposal, it may well continue to prioritise profitable innovations, since its mandate is to “promote the translation of [research] findings into innovative outcomes”.
Food security, sustainable agriculture and forestry, marine and maritime and inland water research and the bioeconomy (download)
As one of the most multifaceted societal challenges in the third pillar of Horizon 2020, the food security and agriculture work programme splinters this particular budget into dozens of topics, grouped under three main calls.
These calls—Sustainable Food Security, Blue Growth and Innovative, Sustainable and Inclusive Bioeconomy—are an attempt to align projects on topics as diverse as soil research, nutrition for the elderly, imaging technologies, polar science and CO2 emission reduction. This matches the work programme’s overarching goal: to encourage interdisciplinary research between fields covering agriculture, land use, fisheries, oceans and biology.
The work programme states that this interdisciplinary approach is meant to lead to a more integrated approach to problem solving, and to more long-term solutions for issues related to sustainability. In the same spirit, the programme urges participants to “duly integrate” socio-economic aspects in their application, including ethical and gender issues as well as consumer attitudes and protection.
The food security challenge lumps together a variety of Framework 7 programmes, most notably agriculture and marine research. The union of these two makes sense, as land farming, forestry and fisheries are affected by the same problems, and often benefit from similar solutions. However, the addition of bioeconomy, which mainly covers biotechnology research and the study of plant genetics, has raised some eyebrows among researcher, even though any reference to GMO or other forms of food manipulation has been carefully avoided in the wording.
The overall budget of the food security societal challenge in Horizon 2020 is €3.8bn, or 5 per cent of the overall budget. For the first rounds of calls, this translates into €260m for 2014 and €201m in 2015. By far the largest amount of money, €138m in 2014, will go to Sustainable Food Security, while in the same year Blue Growth will get €59m and the bioeconomy will get €44.5m.
Some funding for this challenge will come from other societal challenges. For example, about €10m will be made available from the climate action budget, for waste and water research. This matches the European Commission’s strategic programme for Horizon 2020, in which blue growth, waste and the sustainable use of food sources were highlighted as crucial subjects for EU-funded research.
Secure, clean and efficient energy (download)
Given the overall focus of Horizon 2020 on economic gains and overall efficiency, it is perhaps no surprise that the three major energy priorities for the first two years are: energy efficiency, low-carbon technologies, and building energy-smart cities. The energy work programme links heavily to the EU’s 2020 targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and to the priorities of the Strategy Energy Technology Plan, which began in 2007.
Whilst the energy challenge continues many of the same aims addressed in the field under Framework 7, it receives one of the largest increases in budget compared to other aspects of the programme. Under Horizon 2020, energy research will receive close to €6 billion, compared to €2.4bn in FP7.
Low-carbon technologies are the biggest winner in the first two years of the programme, receiving more than €360 million per year. All the topics are geared with the aim in mind to reduce energy consumption by 20 per cent by the end of the Framework programme, compared to levels at the beginning of the century, as set out in the Commission’s Europe 2020 strategy. As well as modernising the electricity grid, this includes research into controversial energy options such as biofuels and carbon capture and storage.
Next up is energy efficiency, with just under €100 million a year for topics to improve building design and public planning, drive energy efficiency in industry, and examine social and behavioural factors that could influence the uptake of technologies.
Meanwhile, the smart cities call focuses on the large-scale lighthouse demonstration projects, where technologies are tested in one city for wider roll out—an approach that has recently come under fire for being too much of a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach. Overall, smart cities will get €73m in 2014, and around €87m in 2015.
Projects led by SMEs will be funded through the SME instrument, and the fast track to innovation pilot will also support projects for companies and universities in this area.
The work programme highlights that energy efficiency research and innovation plans are likely to be a big winner with regional authorities, looking to spend their allocations of EU structural funds given out through the smart specialisation process. Such funds could be used to build energy infrastructures, or to prototype a product developed through Horizon 2020 research, says the Commission.
Smart, green and integrated transport (download)
A fairly big chunk of the societal challenge budget is devoted to the fourth challenge on transport. The total budget under Horizon 2020 will be boosted to €6.3 billion for the seven years of the programme, compared to €4.2bn in Framework 7. The main themes from Framework 7 are also continued within the challenge—generating better transport, more environmentally friendly transport, and boosting the performance of EU industry—aims that will be tackled by three calls under the 2014-15 work programme.
In its strategic programming exercise to plan Horizon 2020, the Commission identified mobility, smart cities, low-carbon technology and energy efficiency as four of its twelve priorities—meaning these reoccur as hot topics throughout the transport work programme.
The bulk of the money is being spent on the first call, entitled mobility for growth, which covers research across the four major forms of transport: air, rail, road and water. The topics are very technology-focused, even where basic research might be involved, and are structured to fit round public-private initiatives in this area, like Fuel Cells and Hydrogen 2, Clean Sky 2 and the Sesar programme.
Under the same call, the Commission prioritises research to better integrate transport facilities: through urban studies and logistics, and intelligent systems. Meanwhile, behavioural and socio-economic studies are included to look at how human needs and actions should shape transport planning—and providing a much sought-after opportunity for social science and humanities researchers in this challenge. In 2014, the mobility for growth call will receive €375 million.
The second call is targeted towards technology for green cars, including lithium battery powered, hybrid and electric vehicles, which will receive €129m in 2014. The third call contains the budget for the SME instrument covering transport, a total of €35m in 2014, as well as the fast track to innovation pilot that will kick of in 2015—and could be used by universities, as well as businesses.
Overall, the transport programme contains significant links with societal challenges 3 and 5, covering energy and climate change, as well as 6—secure societies—and areas such as advanced materials, manufacturing and processing and ICT, from the industrial technologies.
Climate action, environment, resource efficiency and raw materials (download)
Climate change research is well on the way to becoming the next ICT—the field of science considered by European leaders to be so crucial to future wellbeing and competitiveness that funding for it must be hiked up faster and more efficiently than in other fields.
Climate action commissioner Connie Hedegaard has battled tirelessly to boost climate science funding, and in her words about 30 per cent of the Horizon 2020 budget will go towards climate science.
In reality, this is obviously not true. Rather, research funds that are being spent on oceanography, renewable technologies, agriculture and sociology have been given a climate stamp. The actual climate action research budget of Horizon 2020, one of the challenges under pillar three, is a modest €3bn, or 4 per cent of the total. Nonetheless, this is the first time that the Framework programme boasts a dedicated fund for climate research.
What’s more, the money looks set to be distributed in a way that promises great impact. The 2014 climate action budget is split into three calls covering waste disposal, water innovation and low-carbon technologies, plus an extra budget for fast-track pilot project applications.
The WASTE call, which focuses on recycling and the recovering of raw materials, is worth €59 million in 2014 and €58m in 2015. WATER will get €67m in 2014 and €96m in 2015 and SC5, the call for low carbon technology research, will get €166m in 2014 and €189 in 2015—the biggest budget of this funding pot.
Waste and water are both mentioned in Horizon 2020’s strategic programme as areas that are of particular importance for European funding.
In addition, the climate change work programme foresees small contributions from other societal challenges, including energy, food security and water. These are in the region of between €5m and €28m a year, and are part of Horizon 2020’s attempt to become more interdisciplinary.
Because of the international aspect of climate research, several calls will be launched to fund cooperation and global political efforts. In 2014, small amounts will be distributed to support the EU’s participation in the Group on Earth Observation and the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
The total budget for all calls under the societal challenge for climate will be €345m in 2014, and €391 in 2015.
Europe in a changing world: inclusive, innovative and reflective societies (download)
The social sciences and humanities are the new kid on the block in Horizon 2020. Homeless in Framework 7, they now have their own societal challenge and budget, after a prolonged lobbying campaign by researchers across Europe, who formed their own lobby group, the European Alliance for the Social Sciences and Humanities, to ensure they were taken on board.
The SSH work programme states that funding in this area is meant to work on two levels. It is expected to specifically address the update and deployment of new technologies within society, but also to look at general issues of identity, progress and convergence in Europe. Several calls—including EURO, YOUNG. REFLECTIVE and INT—address the identity and image of Europeans, and seek to improve mutual understanding and solidarity.
The more ‘technical’ calls in this pillar address innovation and technology development. The work programme recognises that new technologies do not operate in a vacuum, and that social factors are crucial to the success or failure of applied sciences. The INSO call, and funding for the Cost programme (Cooperation in Science and Technology) are to address such issues. INSO in particular is meant to address new forms of innovation, and new ways to work with citizens and society to develop technologies and services.
Money will also be available from this area for the evaluation of science and technology policies, and for research into the success of Framework 7.
The social sciences are also expected to receive funding from the other pillars, which may explain the sixth challenge’s small budget—just 1.7 per cent of the total Horizon 2020 funds. The Commission wants pillars such as health, climate action and food security to fund SSH work that relates to the application of such sciences, but researchers in the field are sceptical. As late as December 2013, groups including the All European Academies and the League of European Research Universities have warned that SSH could stay a “peripheral part” of Horizon 2020, if integration of this field into the Framework programme is not improved.
The SSH pillar will have a total budget of €150 million in 2014 and €157m in 2015. The largest call is EURO, with an initial 2014 budget of €35m, while REFLECTIVE will have €23m and INSO will have €26.5m.
Secure Societies - Protecting freedom and security of Europe and its citizens (download)
Secure societies, which funds defence research and crisis management science, has simple goals: fight crime and terrorism, improve security and protect people and infrastructure. But, as the European Commission admits in the programme’s introduction, these simple tasks are incredibly difficult to carry out.
The programme is split into four calls DRS (Disaster management), FCT (Fight against crime and terrorism), BES (Border and external security) and DS (Digital security)—the latest addition to the security research family.
After being split from the social sciences and humanities research challenge, secure societies lost some of its budget, and much of its public face. The work it does now is more low-key, and there is little visible evidence in the work programme of the ethical and societal aspects of defence research that the SSH part was meant to provide. Instead, funding has been added for the use of Galileo, the European satellite navigation system, for defence purposes—a move strongly opposed by the European Parliament.
The challenge’s special focus on digital security and data privacy research, for which there will be €47 million in 2014 and €50m in 2015, is obvious. In the light of the US spying activities in Europe, as well as increasing issues with data theft, this part of the work programme has been expanded to include funding for secure information sharing and data access monitoring. The work programme explains that it strives for a combination of traditional security needs with digital progress and barriers, a strategy that is meant to include large amounts of industrial cooperation.
The largest share of the funding, €54m in 2014 and €65m in 2015, is set aside for disaster resilience research. This includes a large section on research into the effects of climate change on national and international security, leading to inevitable crossover with the climate action societal challenge.
The budget for fighting crime and terrorism, set at €35m in 2014 and €44m in 2015, will mostly be spent on border security, another issue that has grown in importance during the development phase of Horizon 2020. In this section, there is a special call for research on the humanitarian aspects of EU border controls, which will distribute between €3m and €5m to winning projects.
Spreading Excellence and Widening Participation (download)
Considering the multitude of approaches that have been suggested to improving the geographical reach of the Framework programme, the structure of this budget stream is surprisingly simple. Spreading Excellence and Widening Participation, which aims to help less successful research areas in Europe get money and join partnerships, is separated into just two calls: WIDESPREAD and TWINNING.
The WIDESPREAD call covers initiatives that will improve access to research funding in disadvantaged regions, including spreading knowledge about funds and application processes, staff training and building partnerships. For the latter, the TEAMING sub-call, which will fund the pooling of local expertise to create centres of excellence, has €11.8 million in 2014.
These efforts are matched by the TWINNING call, which will distribute €64m from 2015 onwards. Twinning initiatives are aimed at closing networking and partnership gaps that institutions in the less developed European regions suffer from. Applicants can receive money to pay for conferences and training, staff exchanges, results dissemination and promotion.
The largest 2014 budget under this work programme, €33m for ERA-Chairs, is for universities to hire high-performing academics, implement structural changes to foster excellent researchers and train staff in leadership and research project management. Following on from the Framework 7 pilot, the funding is available for all subject areas, and will cover posts for up to five years.
Other funds will go towards Cost, the Cooperation for Science and Technology, and expert groups.
The total budget of this funding stream will be just over 1 per cent of the Horizon 2020 budget, a total of €816 million, with €70m to be spent in 2014 and €94m in 2015. A €250,000 grant has been set aside for a Greek EU presidency conference to address issues of widening participation in the first half of 2014.
Widening participation has been a central issue within the Framework programme since the EU enlargement in 2004, but so far few initiatives have had proven success. An attempt to address skills shortages in less developed regions through an €8000 salary top-up for Horizon 2020 researchers has been met with suspicion by many policy observers. The proposal, which was initially proposed to quieten Eastern Europe, will be applicable to any European institution that wants to offer it, which, some say, negating any potential for it to make research salaries fairer and reducing brain-drain. In fact, an unlimited top-up was applied by some under Framework 7, meaning some researchers in poorer countries will now receive less than they did before.
Science for and with society (download)
Introduced by the European Parliament during the Horizon 2020 negotiation period, this programme contains the majority of MEPs pet projects, including gender, science communication and ethically and socially-responsible research.
It also provides one of the more entertaining acronyms out of the Horizon 2020 calls for proposals, since the call for Promoting gender equality in research and innovation is aptly titled GERI—a name made famous by a certain member of the Spice Girls. Girl power indeed!
The GERI call covers not only the promotion of gender equality in research organisations, but also funds studies into the effects of gender diversity on project outcomes. It is also intended to fund a follow-up to the Commission’s “It’s a girl thing!” initiative, through an action to promote girls studying science.
Other funds in this section cover boosting the attractiveness of science, including funding EURAXESS initiatives to raise awareness of vacancies and improve working conditions for researchers.
Building on several recent papers on responsible research and innovation, the ISSI call is to support public awareness of science events and promote citizen involvement in policy decisions. Other areas are focused on helping both individual research organisations and governments to develop better strategies to create ethical and socially-responsible research.
From a relatively small total budget of €462 million over the life of Horizon 2020, around €50 million per year will be spent in 2014 and 2015 across all these projects.