What are missions and mission areas?

Partly inspired by the Apollo 11 mission to put a man on the moon, the European research and innovation missions aim to deliver solutions to some of the greatest challenges facing our world. They are an integral part of the Horizon Europe framework programme beginning in 2021. 

Individual missions will be chosen from the 5 mission areas that were identified during the negotiations of Horizon Europe.

What this mission area deals with

The importance of cancer research

Cancer affects everyone regardless of age, gender or social status and represents a tremendous burden for patients, families, and societies at large.

If no further action is taken, the number of people newly diagnosed with cancer every year in Europe will increase from the current 3.5 million to more than 4.3 million by 2035.

Aims of missions in this area

A mission in this area will help set common goals aiming to reverse these frightening trends in cancer.

By joining efforts across Europe, more people would live without cancer, more cancer patients would be diagnosed earlier, would suffer less and have a better quality of life after treatment.

How specific missions will be identified

This mission area has a mission board tasked with identifying one or more specific missions for implementation under Horizon Europe.  The mission board consists of 15 experts, including the chair, and is supported by a mission secretariat and an assembly.  

They will have to propose concrete targets and timelines for each mission by the end of 2019. 

More information


  • 3 September 2019

    The mission board meets for the first time

  • End 2019

    Target for mission boards to identify the first of one or more possible missions in the area

  • 2020

    The mission board develops, together with stakeholders and citizens, the research and innovation activities that will contribute to the mission. These will be funded via the Horizon Europe work programme for 2021-2022.

  • 1 January 2021

    The missions come into effect with the launch of Horizon Europe