Research & Innovation - Participant Portal H2020 Online Manual

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What you need to know about Horizon 2020 calls

Calls and Topics

Most of the Horizon 2020 calls are divided into topics. When entering a call page on the Participant Portal, you see the list of all the topics that belong to this call. After clicking on a topic link, you arrive at a topic page. When searching with free keywords on Search topics page, the result is a list of topics of open calls, and when you click on a topic title, you arrive on the topic page. On both call and topic pages, you find useful information for your proposal:

  • Call page
    • latest information and updates to the call
    • call summary that describes the common scientific field or societal challenge or innovation that the topics of this call are tackling
  • Topic page
    • latest information and updates to the topic
    • detailed description of the topic scope, expected impact of projects and its type of action
    • topic conditions and documents, including its eligibility and evaluation criteria, pdf-templates of the forms that you will have in the electronic submission system
    • access to the submission system
    • support services that you can use when preparing your proposal for this topic

Deadlines of topics

A topic is considered ‘open’ until the deadline stated in the topic header.

Each topic will specify deadlines and/or cut-off dates.

1-stage topics

For most topics, you submit a full proposal by the given deadline.

2-stage topics

Some topics have a 2-stage submission procedure.

  • Stage 1
    You submit an outline proposal (standard maximum 10 pages, unless otherwise specified in the submission system). This is evaluated against criteria set out in the topic conditions.
  • Stage 2
    If your proposal passes stage 1, you will be invited to submit your full proposal within a given period.
    If required by the relevant work programme, at this stage you will also receive the stage-1 Evaluation summary report (ESR).
    Rejected proposals: If your proposal does not pass stage 1, you will be informed of this in writing, along with the evaluation summary report.

Continuously open topics with cut-off dates

Some topics are continuously open, like the SME instrument topics, where you can submit a proposal at any time, and cut-off dates mean that all proposals received by a given cut-off date will be evaluated after that deadline.

Types of action

Horizon 2020 calls can have different types of action (funding schemes).

The type of action specifies:

  • the scope of what is funded
  • the reimbursement rate
  • specific evaluation criteria to qualify for funding

The list below gives a short overview of all the H2020 types of actions and their funding rates. You find the detailed description of types of actions in the General Annexes of the Main Work Programme and to the ERC Work Programme.

Horizon 2020 includes the following types of action:

Research & Innovation actions

EU funding rate – 100%

Activities aiming to establish new knowledge and/or to explore the feasibility of a new or improved technology, product, process, service or solution. For this purpose they may include basic and applied research, technology development and integration, testing and validation on a small-scale prototype in a laboratory or simulated environment. Projects may contain closely connected but limited demonstration or pilot activities aiming to show technical feasibility in a near to operational environment. For more detail see Annex D to the work programme.

Innovation actions

EU funding rate – 70% (except non-profit, which are still funded 100%)

Activities directly aiming at producing plans and arrangements or designs for new, altered or improved products, processes or services. For this purpose they may include prototyping, testing, demonstrating, piloting, large-scale product validation and market replication.For more detail see Annex D to the work programme.

Coordination & support actions

Accompanying measures such as standardisation, dissemination, awareness-raising and communication, networking, coordination or support services, policy dialogues and mutual learning exercises and studies.For more detail see Annex D to the work programme.

Grants of the European Research Council (ERC) to support frontier research

EU funding rate – 100%

Starting Grant - support up-and-coming research leaders who are about to establish a proper research team and to start conducting independent research in Europe. The scheme targets promising researchers who have the proven potential of becoming independent research leaders. It will support the creation of excellent new research teams. For researchers of any nationality with 2-7 years of experience since completion of PhD (or equivalent degree) and scientific track record showing great promise.

Consolidator Grant - support researchers at the stage at which they are consolidating their own independent research team or programme. The scheme will strengthen independent and excellent new individual research teams that have been recently created. For researchers of any nationality with 7-12 years of experience since completion of PhD (or equivalent degree) and scientific track record showing great promise.

Advanced Grant – for exceptional established research leaders of any nationality and any age to pursue ground-breaking, high-risk projects that open new directions in their respective research fields or other domains. The ERC Advanced Grant funding targets researchers who have already established themselves as independent research leaders in their own right.

Proof of Concept Grant - open to researchers who have already been awarded an ERC grant. ERC grant holders can apply for this additional funding to establish the innovation potential of ideas arising from their ERC-funded frontier research projects.

Synergy grant - to enable a small group of researchers and their teams to bring together complementary skills, knowledge, and resources in new ways, in order to jointly address a research problem.

Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions (MSCA)

EU funding rate – 100%

Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowships (MSCA IF)
European Fellowships
Global Fellowships
Marie Skłodowska-Curie Innovative Training Networks (ITN)
Training Networks
European Industrial Doctorates
European Joint Doctorates
Marie Skłodowska-Curie Research and Innovation Staff Exchange (RISE)
Co-funding of regional, national and international programmes (COFUND)
Doctoral programmes
Fellowship programmes

COFUND actions

EU funding rate – varies (joint funding from the EU and national governments, industry or other bodies)

ERA-NET Cofund

supports public-public partnerships, including joint programming initiatives between Member States, in their preparation, establishment of networking structures, implementation of joint activities as well as Union topping-up of a trans-national call for proposals. It is based on the merger of the former ERA-NET and ERA-NET Plus actions. It allows for programme collaboration in any part of the entire research-innovation cycle.

The main and compulsory activity of the ERA-NET Cofund is the implementation of the co-funded joint call for proposals to fund trans-national research and innovation projects.

The EU contribution is limited to max. 33% of the total eligible costs of the action. For more detail see Annex D to the work programme.

European Joint Programme (EJP) Cofund

supports coordinated national research and innovation programmes. It aims at attracting and pooling a critical mass of national resources on objectives and challenges of Horizon 2020 and at achieving significant economies of scales by adding related Horizon 2020 resources to a joint effort. The EJP Cofund does not promote types of activities or forms of coordination, but relies on modalities and processes agreed by the coordinated national programmes and related actors.
The EU contribution is limited to 70% of the total eligible costs of the action, unless otherwise specified in the call conditions. For more detail see Annex D to the work programme.

Procurement actions

Pre-Commercial Procurement (PCP)

enables the public sector as a technologically demanding buyer to encourage research and development of breakthrough solutions that can bring radical quality and efficiency improvements in areas of public interest, whilst opening market opportunities for industry and researchers.

The requested reimbursement of the estimated eligible costs of coordination and networking activities should not exceed 30% of the requested grant. Indirect eligible costs are calculated as a flat rate of 25% of direct eligible costs, excluding direct eligible costs for subcontracting (e.g the price of the PCP procurement) and costs of resources made available by third parties which are not used on the premises of the beneficiary (e.g test equipment).

For the eligible activities and further detail about requirements of PCP, please see Annex E: Specific requirements for innovation procurement (PCP/PPI) supported by Horizon 2020 grants and Annex D: Type of Actions to the work programme.

Public Procurement of Innovative Solutions (PPI)

reinforces early deployment of innovative solutions that address challenges of public interest. The aim is to enable trans-national groups of procurers to share the risks of acting as early adopters of innovative solutions and to overcome the fragmentation of demand for innovative solutions in Europe. Each PPI action focuses on one concrete unmet need that is shared by the participating procurers and requires innovative solutions that are to a significant extent similar across countries and are therefore proposed to be procured jointly.

The requested reimbursement of the estimated eligible costs of coordination and networking activities should not exceed 50% of the requested grant. Indirect eligible costs are calculated as a flat rate of 25% of direct eligible costs, excluding direct eligible costs for subcontracting (e.g. the price of the PPI procurement) and the costs of resources made available by third parties (e.g. test equipment) which are not used on the premises of the beneficiary.

For the eligible activities and further detail about requirements of PCP, please see Annex E: Specific requirements for innovation procurement (PCP/PPI) supported by Horizon 2020 grants and Annex D: Type of Actions to the work programme.

SME instrument

Phase 1

EU funding rate – lump-sum i.e. a specific amount of funding is given.

Feasibility study verifying the technological/practical as well as economic viability of an innovation idea with considerable novelty to the industry sector in which it is presented). The activities could, for example, comprise risk assessment, market study, user involvement, Intellectual Property management, innovation strategy development, partner search, feasibility of concept and the like.

Phase 2

Innovation projects that demonstrate high potential in terms of company competitiveness and growth underpinned by a strategic business plan. Activities should focus on innovation activities such as demonstration, testing, prototyping, piloting, scaling-up, miniaturisation, design, market replication but may also include some research. For technological innovation a Technology Readiness Levels of 6 or above are envisaged.
Bottlenecks in the ability to increase profitability of the enterprise through innovation are analysed during phase 1 and addressed during phase 2 to increase the return in investment in innovation activities.

Phase 3

Support to commercialisation promotes the wider implementation of innovative solutions and customers and supports financing of growth by facilitation access to public and private risk capital. This stage will not provide for direct funding but SMEs can benefit from indirect support measures and services as well as access to the financial facilities supported under H2020.

For more detail see Annex D to the work programme.

Inducement Prize

- for the rules of Prizes see Annex F to the work programme

Recognition Prize

– for the rules of Prizes see Annex F to the work programme

Debt and equity facility

Technology Readiness Levels

For many topics the topic descriptions specify which level of technology readiness the funded projects are expected to cover. 9 technology readiness levels are distinguished, please see their descriptions in the Annex G. Technology readiness levels of the work programme.

H2020 Calls for Tenders

The Horizon 2020 calls for tenders are published on the TED - Tenders Electronic Daily web site which is dedicated to European public procurement and publishes calls for tenders.