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HORIZON EUROPE (2021-2027)

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HORIZON EUROPE

European Commission proposal for the next Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (2021-2027)

(Proposed budget: €  94,1 bn.[1])

SUMMARY

Horizon Europe’s main aim is to maximize the scientific, economic and societal impact of Union investment in research and innovation. To this end, it will seek to attract more investments from the industry and member states, strengthen the link between science and society and maximize the benefits derived from their interaction through activities ensuring commitment and involvement of EU citizens and their collectivities at all stages and levels (policy-making, implementation).

Horizon Europe will comprise three pillars, as follows:

  1. Open Science
  2. Global Challenges and Industrial Competitiveness
  3. Open Innovation

The three pillars will be interconnected and complemented by the introduction of a 4th horizontal Part “Strengthening the European Research Area”.

The proposed programme structure and the budget breakdown are presented in the following table:

 

Proposed budget                      (€ bn)

% of total budget

Pillar 1: Open Science

25.80

27.42%

European Research Council (ERC)

16.60

17.64%

Marie Sklodowska Curie Actions (MSCA)

6.80

7.23%

Research Infrastructures

2.40

2.55%

Pillar 2: Global Challenges & Industrial Competitiveness 

52.70

56.00%

Health

7.70

8.18%

Inclusive & Secure Societies

2.80

2.98%

Digital & industry

15.00

15.94%

Climate, Energy & Mobility

15.00

15.94%

Food & Natural Resources

10.00

10.63%

Non-nuclear direct actions of the Joint Research Centre (JRC)

2.20

2.34%

Pillar 3: Open Innovation

1.50

14.35%

European Innovation Council (EIC)

10.00

10.63%

European Innovation Ecosystems

0.50

0.53%

European Institute of Innovation & Technology (EIT)

3.00

3.19%

Strengthening the European Research Area

2.10

2.23%

Sharing Excellence

1.70

1.81%

Reforming and Enhancing the European R&I System

0.4.0

0.43%

TOTAL

94.10

100%

Information on each pillar is provided below:

A) Pillar Ι: Open Science (€ 25.8 bn)

There are no significant changes in this pillar compared to Horizon 2020 with the exception of Future and Emerging Technologies (FET) which are transferred to pillars II (FET Flagships evolving in mission-type actions) and III (FET Open, FET Proactive, FET Innovation Launchpad), under a new name and a focus on market-making breakthrough and disruptive innovation.

Pillar Ι is not characterized by pre-defined thematic priorities. Much like Horizon 2020, it adheres to a bottom-up approach. It is considered to cover mostly basic research and comprises the following components:

  • European Research Council (ERC) - (€ 16.6 bn)
  • Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions (fellowships) - (€ 6.8 bn)
  • Research Infrastructures (ESFRI infrastructures, access, etc.) - (€ 2.4 bn)

B) Pillar ΙΙ: Global Challenges & Industrial Competitiveness (€ 52.7 bn)

Pillar ΙΙ will support R&I actions linked to societal challenges and industrial technologies and will be the basis for implementation of missions.

It will also contribute to scientific documentation and technical support of policies, including through Joint Research Centre (JRC) activities.

Pillar ΙΙ is the only pillar with defined priorities (top-down approach) within Horizon Europe.

The novelty element is that the -formerly thematic- priorities are now identified on the basis of a multi-sectoral and multi-disciplinary approach and renamed as “clusters”. Each cluster comprises specific intervention areas; however, certain areas such as space, humanitarian and social sciences, marine research and cybersecurity are covered by several clusters (cross-cutting issues). Emphasis will be put on fields that are catalysts for social and economic transformation and on investments in basic technologies of general application for the future.

Proposed clusters are:

  1. Health (€ 7.7 bn)
  2. Inclusive & Secure Societies (€ 2.8 bn)
  3. Digital & industry ((€ 15.0 bn)
  4. Climate, Energy & Mobility ((€ 15.5 bn)
  5. Food and Natural Resources ((€ 10.0 bn)

Having read the Commission proposal for Horizon Europe, GSRT is of the view that, by and large, it covers to a satisfactory degree national priorities, as well as areas where Greek organisations have a significant presence.

In any event, the GSRT positions will be finalized after completion of the this consultation and examination of the comments and proposals that will be submitted by national representatives, Greek experts and the research, scientific and business community at large.

Pillar II implementation instruments:

Pillar II will be implemented mainly through collaborative projects (RIAs, ΙΑs)[2] open to all member states’ bodies on a competitive basis, European R&I partnerships and missions.

It must be noted that, based on up-to-date evidence, it appears that Greek participation is favoured in the context of open collaborative projects compared to other implementation instruments[3]; they are, therefore, given priority in relevant GSRT consultations.

Pillar II will also allocate € 2.2 bn to Joint Research Centre (JRC) actions.

  • Partnerships

According to the Commission proposal, the existing complex and fragmented partnership landscape will be streamlined and better aligned to the Horizon Europe specific objectives. Areas covered by partnerships, including eventual continuation of partnerships already funded under Horizon 2020, will be defined in the context of the strategic planning process.

The proposal defines a clear set of criteria covering their whole life-cycle[4], and emphasizes leveraging of additional private and public investments and linking with initiatives at the national level.

We believe that this new approach and the proposed selection criteria, as presented in summary below, constitute a step in the right direction.

More specifically:

There will only be 3 types of partnerships:

(a) Co-programmed partnerships

These will be based on Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) or contractual arrangements[5] aimed at joint planning and coordination of R&I in the area concerned.

(b) Co-funded partnerships

These will be based on the commitment of partners (public sector, industry, etc.) for joint implementation of a set of actions through relevant contributions (financial and in-kind).

(c) Institutionalised partnerships based on Articles 185[6] or 187[7] TFEU and the EIT Regulation regarding Knowledge and Innovation Communities. For these partnerships, it is proposed, among others, that a share of the contributions must be in the form of financial contributions.

This condition, which we endorse, impacts in a crucial way the participation of industry, since implementation of Horizon 2020 to date shows that there are important difficulties in complying with relevant commitments.

  • Missions

In order to maximize the impact of public investment in research and innovation, implementation of missions is also incorporated within Pillar II.

According to the Commission proposal, through the strategic planning process[8], a limited set of missions[9] will be defined, with targeted, ambitious but time-bound goals (e.g. for cancer, plastic-free seas and oceans, etc.).

Missions will be umbrella actions drawing funds from several clusters or/and other parts of the programme. They will also develop synergies with national initiatives. The maximum allocated budget per mission is expected to reach € 600 million.

Duration of funding from the FP must not exceed 10 years and will be subject to regular revision (in work programmes).

The work programme will set out the evaluation and selection criteria as well as the monitoring procedure based on a portfolio of projects (portfolio approach) in order to assess excellence and impact in a comprehensive way.

It must be noted that Flagship Initiatives in Future and Emerging Technologies (FET Flagships)[10] will not continue in their present form. Depending on their particular characteristics, they may evolve in missions or partnerships or continue to be supported as regular collaborative projects. According to the Commission proposal, Horizon 2020 FET Flagships share similar characteristics with missions. Accordingly, any new FET Flagships under Horizon Europe will be designed as missions and their implementation will be subject to the same provisions.

Mission goals

Missions will seek to bring together investments in sectors of strategic importance and to serve as a catalyst for transforming science, technology, economy and society towards the desired direction/goal.

More specifically, it is expected that orientation of public funding towards achieving specific goals (directionality), involvement of users and civil society in their planning and implementation, and combination of different instruments (ranging from R&I projects to public procurement to innovation) will contribute to:

  • Mobilization of additional private investments (due to reduced risk);
  • Triggering demand and facilitating uptake by the general public[11] of the solutions developed.

There will most probably be two basic types of missions or a combination of both types:

  • accelerator missions, orientated towards accelerating solution uptake (e.g. achieving faster commercial exploitation of new-generation batteries – post Li-ion);
  • transformative missions, orientated towards transformation of a wider socio-industrial system (e.g. the transportation system in cities) in synergy with broader EU policy objectives.

Mission implementation model

It is proposed to establish an advisory body, the Mission Board, composed of stakeholder representatives, including end users[12]. Its members (about 15) will be appointed by the Commission on the basis of an open call.

The Commission may also appoint a Mission Manager to monitor implementation of the project portfolio.

Finally, missions may also benefit from actions carried out within other parts of the programme.

C) Pillar ΙΙΙ: Open Innovation

Pillar ΙΙΙ, with a total allocated budget of € 13.5 bn. comprises 3 components:

a) European Innovation Council (EIC) – € 10.5 bn

b) Strengthening the European innovation ecosystems – € 500 000

c) European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) – € 3 bn[13].

 

Pillar III activities aim at providing comprehensive support[14] to innovation with an emphasis in high-risk disruptive or breakthrough market-creating innovations[15].

More specifically:

a) The European Innovation Council (EIC) will be primarily focused on identifying and developing disruptive or breakthrough market-creating innovations and supporting rapid growth of respective undertakings from initial technology development to early market deployment (pre-mass commercialisation).

A bottom-up approach will be used; however, targeted support may also be provided to emerging technologies of potentially strategic importance, particularly in deep-tech sectors, such as artificial intelligence, quantum technology, genomics, robotics and clean energy sources. In this context, innovations developed at the intersection of different technologies, industrial sectors and scientific disciplines (e.g. combination of hardware and digital elements) will generally be encouraged.

The EIC with comprise two complementary instruments:  Το ΕΣΚ θα περιλαμβάνει δύο συμπληρωματικά μέσα:

i) the «Pathfinder» (advanced research, supporting emerging technology)

It will award grants supporting initial technology development to early commercialization stages (initial demonstration, business scenario and strategy development).

Support will be provided to individual beneficiaries (excluding large enterprises) and consortiums (individuals, research organisations, companies, in particular start-ups and SMEs).

ii) the «Accelerator» (innovation and early market deployment up to pre-mass commercialisation)

It aims to bridge the financing gap[16] faced by high-risk enterprises (technology- or market-wise) in the final stages of development due to non-compliance with eligibility criteria for bank loans.

Support will be provided to individual beneficiaries (mainly start-ups, SME and mid-cap companies) in the form of blended finance: grant-type funding or reimbursable advance[17] for innovation actions and support for investment in equity or other repayable forms of funding for subsequent stages.

It will also be linked to corresponding national programmes.

b) Strengthening the European innovation ecosystems

This component will comprise actions aimed at improving the general environment to nurture emerging innovation, mainly through dialogue mechanisms (EIC Forum) and joint programmes with member states (synergies with structural funds) and countries associated to the programme, as well as European networks/platforms such as Enterprise Europe Network and Startup Europe.

c) European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT)

The EIT will be complementary to the European Innovation Council by strengthening links between the three actors of the innovation ecosystem (Knowledge Triangle) and developing entrepreneurship and innovation skills in priority areas of the respective Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs).

Moreover, the EIT is expected to help transform EU universities in business-oriented organisations and, due to its focus on societal challenges, develop synergies/complementarities with Pillar II actions.

Support will continue for all existing KICs (Digital, Climate change, Materials, Energy, etc.) according to their long-term (more than 10 years) funding model under Horizon 2020. Proposals for new KICs will refer to the EIT Strategic Innovation Agenda to be adopted by the Council.

It must be noted that Greek bodies are already involved in KICs and that the EIT procedures are gradually becoming opening to new participations.

D) Horizontal part[18]: Strengthening the European Research Area (€ 2.8 bn)

It comprises 2 distinct components:

a) Sharing excellence

Widening actions (Teaming[19], Twinning[20], ERA Chairs) under Horizon 2020 and COST will continue aimed principally at boosting participation of poorly-performing R&I countries.

Eligible countries (low-performing R&I countries) will be determined through a dedicated indicator. Outermost regions are also eligible (Article 349 TFEU).

b) Reforming the R&I systems

This component comprises instruments to support reforms at the national level (e.g. Policy Support Facility[21]) and actions to promote cross-cutting issues (e.g. open science, international cooperation, empowering human capital[22], linking with the European Higher Education Area and ERASMUS – institutional modernization of universities/research organisations).

Actions will be open to all member states.

 


[1]This amount does not include a sum of € 3.5 billion to be allocated by the Commission under the InvestEU Fund (total Horizon Europe budget amounts to € 97.6 billion). In addition, it is proposed to allocate € 2.4 billion to the Euratom research and training programme and € 6 billion for construction of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER). € 4.1 billion from another budget section are to be allocated for defense research. All amounts are expressed in current values.

[2] Research & Innovation Actions and Innovation Actions respectively. Specifically for Pillar II, the Commission points out that both small- and large-scale projects covering virtually all technology readiness levels will be supported.

[3] Partnerships also include funding of collaborative projects, provided that the vast majority of beneficiaries come from partner countries (the possibility for bodies from other member states to participate is virtually non-existent).

[4] Including a defined timeframe and conditions for phasing out the programme funding.

 [5] An example of this type of partnership are contractual public-private partnerships (cPPPs) funded under Horizon 2020.

[6] Partnerships between public-sector bodies (e.g. PRIMA, Eurostars, etc.).

[7] Public-private partnerships [e.g. Joint Technology Initiatives (JTI)/Joint Undertakings such as Clean Sky Joint Undertaking and Bio-based Industries Joint Undertaking].

[8] Participants include Commission services, member states, the European Parliament, stakeholder representatives and civil society members.

[9] Based on the experience to be gained from first missions, their number and scale may increase in subsequent work programmes.

[10] “Human Brain Project” (HBP), “Graphene”, “Quantum Technology” and possibly “Future Batteries Technologies” (announced in 2018 with potential launch date in 2020).

[11] In this context, the proposal provides for increased participation of social sciences and humanities.

[12] This role may be assigned to existing governance structures.

[13] EIT will be complementary to EIC with a focus on linking higher education with the innovation ecosystem.

[14] Funding, favourable conditions (ecosystem), strengthening links between the business, academic and research communities (Knowledge Triangle).

[15] It must be noted that due to EIT and the limited-budget ecosystem strengthening component, the Commission considers that Pillar III covers the full spectrum of innovation.

[16] Between grant-type financing and InvestEU Fund instruments.

[17] Reimbursed to the EU on the basis of a contract or invested in share capital, if the beneficiary so desires.

[18] Actions under this part support all 3 pillars.

[19] Establishment of excellence centres in eligible countries.

[20] Networking with a research body in a high R&I performing country.

[21] A mechanism established in 2015 under Horizon 2020 to provide high-level expertise (peer review) and specific support to public authorities. Organisation of special workshops, the so called Mutual Learning Exercises, is also included.

[22] E.g EURAXESS and RESAVER

 

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