Horizon Europe in brief

Horizon Europe is the EU’s research and innovation framework programme for the years 2021–2027. The programme is designed to create new growth and jobs across Europe by strengthening scientific knowledge and know-how within the EU, by supporting the development and introduction of new technologies and innovations and by tackling major societal challenges facing Europe. The programme resembles the current Horizon 2020 programme in many ways, and it is, in fact, based on the mantra of “evolution, not revolution”. 

The programme is built on three pillars.

Pillar 1: Excellent Science

Excellent Science focuses on basic research and basic research funding. The European Research Council (ERC), which funds top-level research, and Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA), which promote mobility, continue their work under this pillar. The first pillar also includes a research infrastructure development programme.

Pillar 2: Global Challenges and European Industrial Competitiveness 

The second pillar consists of thematic clusters that will primarily be developed through consortium projects. The clusters are as follows:

  • Health
  • Culture, Creativity and Inclusive Society
  • Civil Security for Society
  • Digital, Industry and Space
  • Climate, Energy and Mobility
  • Food, Bioeconomy, Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environment.

Pillar 3: Innovative Europe

Innovative Europe strives to turn science into European innovations. The pillar includes one of the framework programme’s new features, the European Innovation Council (EIC). The EIC is a system developed primarily for small and medium-sized European businesses with the aim of accelerating the adoption of breakthrough innovations by fast-growing SMEs. The pillar also supports the development of European innovation ecosystems.

Overview of the framework programme

The framework programme also features a system for strengthening the European Research Area (ERA). These actions are designed, among other things, to promote research in the framework programme’s least competitive countries.

Horizon Europe introduces a new approach to research and innovation. Pillar 2 incorporates mission-based research to bring science closer to the public and to overcome major global challenges.

The mission areas have already been identified, and they are as follows:

  • adaptation to climate change including societal transformation
  • cancer
  • healthy oceans, seas, coastal and inland waters
  • climate-neutral and smart cities
  • soil health and food.

The details of the missions themselves will be agreed as planning progresses. Each of the missions has its own dedicated mission board consisting of representatives of the scientific community, businesses and civil society, which plays a key role in planning the mission. 

European Partnerships will also continue under the new framework programme. The programme features co-programmed, co-funded and institutionalised partnerships. 

Partnership projects relating to Future and Emerging Technologies (FET) will be split up under the new framework programme. FET Flagships will become cluster-based and fall under Pillar 2. FET Open and FET Proactive actions will be coordinated by the EIC as part of the framework programme’s third pillar.

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