The European Commission has published the first calls for proposals under Horizon 2020, the main EU research and innovation programme, which has recently been agreed by the European Parliament and EU member states. Under the agreement, which covers 2014-2020, EU research and innovation funding will be significantly increased compared to Horizon 2020's predecessor, the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7, 2007-2013).
Overall funding* will rise from about €50 billion under FP7 to €78.6 billion (current prices) for Horizon 2020. In environmental terms, the emphasis in Horizon 2020 is on finding the technologies that will help society to decouple its economic well-being from current levels of unsustainable consumption of resources, and from environmental collateral damage. The EU Council decision establishing Horizon 2020 notes that this decoupling will require “structural changes in how such resources are used, re-used and managed.”
The first calls were published on 11 December 2013. In 2014, under the Societal Challenges priority, Horizon 2020 provides €73 million for projects under the heading Waste: a resource to recycle, reuse and recover raw materials, and €67 million for projects under the heading Water innovation: boosting its value for Europe. Eco-innovation projects could also be potentially supported under a number of other Societal Challenges headings in the first call: Sustainable food security (2014 budget: €138 million); Blue growth: unlocking the potential of seas and oceans (€100 million); Smart cities and communities (€92 million); Competitive low-carbon energy (€359 million); Energy efficiency (€98 million); Mobility for growth (€375 million); and Disaster-resilience: safeguarding and securing society, including adapting to climate change (€72 million). In addition, the specific objective Access to Risk Finance under the Horizon 2020 Industrial Leadership priority offers opportunities for R&D and innovation-driven companies, in particular small and medium-sized enterprises, to overcome deficits in the availability of debt and equity finance. In each case, sub-topics and specific criteria are contained in the Work Programmes.
European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science Máire Geoghegan-Quinn said “these calls will be a huge opportunity for scientists and businesses across the EU and beyond and are not to be missed.”
Horizon 2020 aims to streamline the process of accessing funds for viable projects, with a single set of participation rules and simpler administrative procedures. For R&D projects, Horizon 2020 can cover up to 100% of the costs, while for innovation projects, the funding level is 70%, or 100% for non-profit legal entities. Projects will have to be carried out by partnerships of at least three organisation from different countries.