Horizon 2020
The EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation

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Excellent Science

Activities under this Pillar aim to reinforce and extend the excellence of the Union’s science base and to consolidate the European Research Area in order to make the Union’s research and innovation system more competitive on a global scale.

 The Excellent Science pillar has main four specific objectives:

  1. The European Research Council (ERC) will provide attractive and flexible funding to enable talented and creative individual researchers and their teams to pursue the most promising avenues at the frontier of science, on the basis of Union-wide competition.
  2. Future and emerging technologies will support collaborative research in order to extend Europe’s capacity for advanced and paradigm-changing innovation. They will foster scientific collaboration across disciplines on radically new, high-risk ideas and accelerate development of the most promising emerging areas of science and technology as well as the Union-wide structuring of the corresponding scientific communities.
  3. Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions will provide excellent and innovative research training as well as attractive career and knowledge-exchange opportunities through cross-border and cross-sector mobility of researchers to best prepare them to face current and future societal challenges.
  4. Research infrastructure (including e-infrastructures) will develop European research infrastructure for 2020 and beyond, foster their innovation potential and human capital, and complement this with the related Union policy and international cooperation.

Together, these objectives form a powerful and balanced set of activities which, in concert with activities at national and regional levels, span the breadth of Europe’s needs regarding advanced science and technology. Bringing them together in a single programme will enable them to operate with greater coherence, in a rationalised, simplified and more focused way, while maintaining the continuity which is vital to sustain their effectiveness.

The activities are inherently forward-looking, building skills in the long term, focusing on the next generation of science, technology, researchers and innovations and providing support for emerging talent from across the whole of the Union and associated countries, as well as worldwide. In view of their science-driven nature and largely ‘bottom-up’, investigator-driven funding arrangements, the European scientific community will play a strong role in determining the avenues of research followed under the programme.



09/06/2015 - 19:09

All signed Horizon 2020 projects have now been published. Read more

09/06/2015 - 17:54

All signed Horizon 2020 projects have been published. Read more

11/03/2015 - 17:56

This video explains the concept of the European Research Area, a unified area open to the world, in which scientific knowledge, technology and researchers circulate freely. It explains how European policies are geared towards removing barriers and putting the conditions in place so that scientists can move more easily, have better access to funding and concentrate on their research. Read more


25/09/2015 - 13:58

On 25 September, the Commission launched an online survey to gather opinions from stakeholders on the impact of the simplification measures introduced in Horizon 2020, and to ask for new ideas on future simplification. Read more

14/09/2015 - 13:10

Following the call for proposals "Towards exascale high performance computing" 21 projects have been selected and are starting in autumn 2015. The aim of the call was to attract projects that can achieve world-class extreme scale computing capabilities in platforms, technologies and applications. Read more

12/08/2015 - 02:00

Business Insider UK compiled a list of 50 scientists from across the globe who are changing the world for the better. Katrin Amunts, working at Jülich Research Centre (DE) has been nominated for her work on the "BigBrain", which aims to create a 3D atlas of the human brain and should lead to unprecedented insights into the construction and organization of the brain and how it drives our behavior. She is co-leader of the Strategic Human Brain Data subproject. Read more

Project stories

28/09/2015 - 12:13

The widening gap between rich and poor is leading to segregation in more and more European cities. The rich and the poor are living at increasing distance from each other, and this can be disastrous for the social stability and competitive power of cities. These are the conclusions of joint research of Prof. Maarten van Ham, ERC grantee at Delft University of Technology, and Prof. Tiit Tammaru, Dr. Szymon Marcińczak and Prof. Sako Musterd. Read more

15/07/2015 - 10:11

Disability is often associated with access legislation rather than a source of creativity for architects. With her ERC grant, Prof. Ann Heylighen wanted to reverse this perspective. Her findings suggest that disability can be a valuable source of innovative solutions in architecture by extending prevailing ways of understanding space and designing buildings. Read more

15/07/2015 - 10:02

When Prof. Heino Falcke obtained an ERC grant to study and identify the sources of ultra-high energy cosmic rays, back in 2008, he could not imagine that his research would provide an important clue to better understand lightning and thunderclouds much closer to us. Read more


25/09/2015 - 17:40

Horizon 2020 is the EU’s biggest ever programme for research and innovation, and it has got off to an excellent start. This brochure presents information on the first 100 calls for proposals that closed by 1 December 2014. Read more

24/09/2015 - 20:03

Horizon 2020 is the biggest EU research and innovation programme ever. Almost €80 billion of funding is available over seven years (2014 to 2020) – in addition to the private and national public investment that this money will attract. This publication presents the full set of Key Performance and Cross-Cutting Issues Indicators for Horizon 2020, including those for the European Institute of Technology and EURATOM. Read more

16/06/2015 - 17:37

In 2015, the ERC celebrates its 5000th grant, which is presented in this folder alongside other ongoing and finished projects funded by the ERC in life sciences; physical sciences and engineering; and social sciences and humanities. Read more

Press Release

29/07/2015 - 13:55

The European Commission adopted yesterday the ERC Work Programme 2016. The programme foresees €1.67 billion for grants to top researchers. Within the new series of competitions, the ERC has opened today the first one, the call for Starting Grants 2016, with a budget of €485 million and deadline of 17 November 2015. This scheme is open to researchers with 2 to 7 years of experience since completion of PhD and a promising scientific track record. Read more

08/04/2015 - 18:50

Researchers, businesses and innovators from Ukraine will now be able to fully participate in Horizon 2020, the European Union's research and innovation funding programme, on equal terms with EU Member States and other associated countries. Read more

12/03/2015 - 16:33

The European Research Council (ERC) is today announcing the 372 winners of its second Consolidator Grant competition. These excellent mid-career scientists are awarded a total of €713 million, as part of the European Union Research and Innovation programme Horizon 2020. Grants are worth up to €2.75 million each, with an average of €1.91 million per grant. The funding will enable them to consolidate their research teams and to develop their most innovative ideas. Read more