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Horizon Europe Research & Innovation Programme

A collective sigh of relief was breathed across UK universities and industry last month as access to Horizon Europe appears to be secured through the post-Brexit trade agreement. Here, we provide an overview of Horizon Europe and the programme’s structure. In the following weeks, as further information becomes available, we will deep dive into the opportunities that are going to be available for both European and UK researchers and businesses.

Please note, since this article was written, information will have changed. Please refer to the official European Commission HEU website for the most up-to-date information.


Anticipated to start in the next 2 months (depending on the speed of final negotiations), Horizon Europe will have a budget over nearly €100 billion for research and innovation. This represents a substantial increase from Horizon 2020 of nearly €23 billion and continues the ever-increasing commitment of the Commission to funding cutting-edge research (see figure below).

While continuing to build on the success of prior programme structures, Horizon Europe will introduce the following main new features:

  • A European Innovation Council (EIC) to help the EU become a frontrunner in market-creating innovation: The Commission’s proposal will establish a one-stop shop to bring the most promising high potential and breakthrough technologies from lab to market application and help the most innovative start-ups and companies scale up their ideas. The new EIC will help identify and fund fast-moving, high-risk innovations with strong potential to create entirely new markets. It will provide direct support to innovators through two main funding instruments, one for early stages and the other for development and market deployment. It will complement the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT).

  • New EU-wide research and innovation missions focusing on societal challenges and industrial competitiveness: Under Horizon Europe, the Commission will launch new missions (see below) with bold, ambitious goals and strong European added value to tackle issues that affect our daily lives. Examples could range from the fight against cancer, to clean transport or plastic-free oceans. These missions will be co-designed with citizens, stakeholders, the European Parliament and Member States.

  • Maximising the innovation potential across the EU: Support will be doubled for Member States lagging behind in their efforts to make the most of their national research and innovation potential. Moreover, new synergies with Structural and Cohesion Funds will make it easy to coordinate and combine funding and help regions embrace innovation.

  • More openness: The principle of ‘open science’ will become the modus operandi of Horizon Europe, requiring open access to publications and data. This will assist market uptake and increase the innovation potential of results generated by EU funding.

  • A new generation of European Partnerships and increased collaboration with other EU programmes: Horizon Europe will streamline the number of partnerships that the EU co-programmes or co-funds with partners like industry, civil society and funding foundations, in order to increase their effectiveness and impact in achieving Europe’s policy priorities. Horizon Europe will promote effective and operational links with other future EU programmes, like Cohesion Policy, the European Defence Fund, the Digital Europe Programme and the Connecting Europe Facility, as well as with the international fusion energy project ITER.The Joint Research Centre (JRC), the Commission’s science and knowledge service, will continue to contribute with scientific advice, technical support and dedicated research.


The structure of Horizon Europe is based around three pillars and one cross-cutting pillar as shown below:

Horizon Europe will incorporate research and innovation missions to increase the effectiveness of funding by pursuing clearly defined targets. Five mission areas have been identified, each with a dedicated mission board and assembly. They will help specify, design and implement specific missions in Horizon Europe:

  • Adaptation to climate change including societal transformation
  • Cancer
  • Climate-neutral and smart cities
  • Healthy oceans, seas, coastal and inland waters
  • Soil health and food

Our Services for Horizon Europe

We will continue to offer the same great service we have offered under Horizon 2020 and make sure that your applications target the right themes and priorities under Horizon Europe. Please go to the EC website for more detailed information. However, a useful information video on Horizon Europe can be found here.