Despite serious efforts deployed at national and European level, the European Union sees significant internal disparities in terms of research and innovation performance as also identified in the Innovation Union Scoreboard. These trends are further exacerbated by the continuing severe financial crisis, and the subsequent adverse effects on public research and innovation budgets.
Also, there is significant evidence pointing to the fact that the pathway to economic growth and competitiveness is strongly connected to the scaling up of investment in research and innovation.
In order to address these challenges, Horizon 2020 introduces specific measures for spreading excellence and widening participation. These measures are targeted at low-performing Member States in terms of research and innovation, and they will be implemented by the Member States most in need of the new Cohesion policy for the 2014-2020 programming period.