Representation in United Kingdom

Horizon 2020

Pascal Lamy and Carlos Moedas

The EU's budget for stimulating jobs and growth through its main research and innovation programme should be doubled from 2020, according to an expert group chaired by former WTO head and European Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy. The current funding scheme is worth nearly €80 billion (£70bn) over seven years


The group's report highlights that in the last twenty years, two-thirds of economic growth in industrialised countries is attributed to research and innovation.

It makes eleven recommendations in all, including further reform and streamlining of both EU and national funding systems, a more impact-based approach and building on cooperation between the EU and international partners. It calls specifically for "full and continued engagement with the UK."

Top policymakers and stakeholders are discussing the proposals at a major conference in Brussels today, where EU research and innovation Commissioner Carlos Moedas welcomed the report. He said: "Research and Innovation make a big difference to enhancing productivity, boosting competitiveness and tangibly improving our quality of life. Europe is a global scientific powerhouse, but we need to better reap the benefits of this knowledge by turning it into value for economy and society through innovation."

The report will set the scene for a public and political debate on the future of EU-backed research and innovation post-2020. As part of that and as a step towards its eventual proposals for the next EU programme, the European Commission will respond formally in October.


The EU's current Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme is the biggest so far, with a funding increase of nearly 40% compared to its predecessor. It focuses on global challenges such as health and climate change. Application and funding systems set out to reduce red tape to a minimum consistent with ensuring the best projects are selected for support.

Horizon 2020 funding has contributed to plethora of successes across a wide range of different fields – some examples here. According to an interim evaluation, 83% of Horizon 2020-funded projects would not have gone ahead without EU-level support.

Demand for funding is high. Horizon 2020 can currently only fund one in four applications evaluated as high-quality through independent peer-review.

The UK has consistently been a leading beneficiary of Horizon 2020 and its predecessors, receiving around 15% of the funding available.

Horizon 2020

The European Commission has launched a €3 million prize (£2.6m) competition to develop an affordable, portable, internet-enabled tactile display which will make digital information easily accessible to visually impaired users.


The winning technology should convey digital information in braille and through the use of touch illustrate graphics and charts, mathematical and spatial information, as well as simple maps. The device should also be developed for educational purposes in supporting literacy among blind and visually impaired students, and improve the employability of people with visual impairments.

The competition is part of the EU's Horizon 2020 Framework Programme for Research and Innovation.

Innovators, SMEs, universities and non-profit organisations acting alone or together with other entities are eligible to enter the competition. They can be based in any EU country or other country associated with Horizon 2020.

All eligible participants are invited to submit their proposals by 27 November 2018 via the Participant Portal.

There are around 30 million visually impaired Europeans that need assistance to access content online. Recent technological developments have provided them with some solutions, such as text-to-speech technologies. The digital revolution, however, has made communication increasingly visual. There is a need for tactile displays that would assist visually impaired people to read texts and graphics through the sense of touch and improve the quality of their lives, especially in the area of education and navigation.

Rules for contest

More information

Horizon 2020

An assessment of the first three years of Horizon 2020, the EU's research and innovation programme, shows that during the period 2014-2030 it is projected to create up to 35,000 jobs in the research sector alone and tackle big challenges like Ebola and the Zika virus. The programme has been so successful in attracting talent that it received applications for projects deemed "excellent" worth well above its current budget.


Carlos Moedas, Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation said: "Horizon 2020's interim evaluation and stakeholder feedback confirm that an EU programme for research and innovation is an invaluable asset for Europe that fuels economic growth, creates the jobs of tomorrow and tackles the societal challenges of our time. However, we can always do even better, and will use the lessons learned to make Horizon 2020's last three years [up to 2020] even more effective, and to design a fit-for-purpose successor programme".

The interim evaluation published recently by the European Commission estimates that the economic impact of Horizon 2020 may be worth €400 billion (£347bn) by 2030. The programme has created international networks of excellence, fostered cross-border cooperation and funded many multi-national projects. More than two-thirds of the projects supported by Horizon 2020 would not have happened without its funding.

UK participants are traditionally at the forefront of this research excellence.

To quote some examples, two UK companies – Lanzatech UK Ltd and E4TECH Ltd – are involved in building a plant that will produce bioethanol fuel from emissions produced through steelmaking. This will be the first of its kind in Europe and the biggest plant in the world.

The University of Oxford is taking part in the EU-funded Global Research Collaboration for Infectious Disease Preparedness (GLOPID-r) that links together research funders, the scientific community, industry, patient groups and public health actors and ensures rapid response to emergencies like Ebola and the Zika virus. Thanks to such rapid response supported by Horizon 2020 Ebola vaccine trials are now under way in West Africa.

The programme has proved extremely attractive and demand is high. Participants come from over 130 different countries and more than half are new applicants that have not taken part in the previous 7th Framework Programme for Research (FP7). On an annual basis, the number of applications for Horizon 2020 has increased by more than 50 percent compared to FP7.

The evaluation also identified areas for improvement like dedicating more funding to sustainable development and climate change or reaching out to young, fast-growing companies.

A separate report New horizons: Future scenarios for research and innovation policies in Europe looks into the future of research and innovation policy and investment at EU level. It describes a range of future scenarios in the 2030s and suggests ways how research could create conditions for Europe to cope with the challenges presented by these scenarios and flourish.

The Commission welcomes comments and reaction to the report at

The two reports will help the Commission design the final work programme for Horizon 2020 for 2018-20. They will also provide the evidence for the High Level Group on maximising the impact of EU Research and Innovation Programmes. This group will present a report and recommendations at the conference Research and innovation: shaping our future in Brussels on 3 July. The Commission in turn will draw policy conclusions from the interim evaluation and react to the recommendations of the High Level Group in a report due to be adopted this autumn.


The European Commission has launched a €2 million (£1.7m) competition to find innovative and energy-efficient ways to improve monitoring of water resources. This can save water, prevent disasters, and help tackle pollution and climate change, as well as boost the economy.


The Zero Power Water Monitoring Horizon Prize invites innovators to come up with solutions using self-powered and wireless smart sensing technologies. The €2 million prize (£1.7m) will be awarded to the best proposal.

Water monitoring can help predict and deal with floods and droughts and spot contamination. By tracking consumption and identifying leakages, it also improves water system efficiency.

The competition is part of the EU's Horizon 2020 Framework Programme for Research and Innovation.

Innovators, SMEs and non-profit organisations acting alone or together with other entities are eligible to enter. They can be based in any EU country or other country associated with Horizon 2020.

All eligible participants are invited to submit their proposals between 19 December 2017 and 11 September 2018 via the Participant Portal. The prize will be awarded in the first quarter of 2019.

Rules of contest

SME Funding

Sixteen UK SMEs will each receive €50.000 (£43.090) of EU funding to finance feasibility studies for bringing new products on the market place. They can also ask for up to three days of free business coaching. The latest round of funding comes under Horizon 2020's SME Instrument, phase 1.


A selection of the UK recipients and what they do:

  • Hoxy Tronic Ltd work on a retro-fit device that controls the output of oxyhydrogen into engines. This enables better fuel savings and ultimately reduces NOx and particulate matter emissions which are the main cause for many respiratory problems due to air pollution. The EU funding will allow the company to put the technical work already undertaken in the context of a clear exploitation plan and strategy. The plan includes risk evaluation, market studies, intellectual property assessment and business planning;
  • Four04 Packaging Limited offer a novel approach to the packaging of perishable food. Their product combines an innovative bio-degradable and fully compostable film with a highly accurate laser perforation system. The packaging film allows better control of the moisture vapour transmission rate while the improved perforation creates optimal atmospheric conditions within the packaging. This new packaging product provides better control of the effects of condensation, thermal shock and the respiration rate – the main elements that contribute to the build-up of moisture in the packs and to mould growth;
  • Deltex and Lariboisiere Hospital Paris have developed a system called TruVue which provides simultaneous visual display of a patient’s aortic blood flow velocity and aortic blood pressure. It is expected to significantly contribute to patient safety. The EU funding will help Deltex test the system with users and collect feedback about their experience with the user interface, Graphical User Interface (GUI). It will also help work out the price of a multinational clinical trial for a phase 2 application.

Since the launch of the programme in 2014, 261 UK SMEs have received funding under Phase 1 of the SME Instrument which funds feasibility studies.

The SME instrument is implemented through a continuously open call with cut-offs four times a year. Phase 1 funding of €50,000 (£39,290) may be followed with up to €2.5 million (£2m) under Phase 2. The next cut-off for Phase 1 applications is 3 May 2017.

Full list of recipients

Tellspec scanner and strawberries

The London branch of Canadian company Tellspec will receive EU funding for developing a food scanner: an affordable and non-invasive mobile food sensor that enables users to measure and analyse their food intake in real-time.


Given the increase in food-related health problems such as obesity, allergies, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases or food intolerance, the Commission launched a Horizon Prize for a food scanner. Companies were competing to develop a mobile solution that analyses precisely, quickly and efficiently food composition, nutrition facts and potentially harmful ingredients such as allergens. The suggestions also had to provide feedback to users regarding their health and lifestyle.

The European Commission awarded a total of €1,000,000 (£852.800) to three innovative companies at the CeBIT 2017 tech conference. The winner, Finnish start-up Spectral Engines, will receive €800.000 (£682.240) and the runners-up, Israeli data company SciOscan and Tellspec will receive €100.000 (£85.280).

Some figures:

  • According to the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, about 17 million Europeans suffer from food allergies, 3.5 million of them are under 25 years old;
  • About 35% of adults around the world are overweight. Obesity is affecting people at ever younger ages: today 43 million preschool children or nearly 7% of all under-fives are overweight;
  • The International Diabetes Federation (IDF) estimated that in 2011 in Europe alone 35 million adults had diabetes (both type 1 and 2). This is projected to increase by 23%, to 43 million in 2030;
  • According to the WHO, cardiovascular disease (CVD) causes more than half of all deaths across the European region; in Europe CVD causes 46 times the number of deaths and 11 times the disease burden caused by AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined; 80% of premature heart disease and stroke is preventable. Diabetes is a major risk factor and trigger for cardiovascular disease. Healthier food intake could reduce these numbers.

This is the fourth Horizon prize to be awarded under Horizon 2020, the EU's Framework Programme for Research and Innovation. There are two other on-going Horizon prizes: the Birthday prize and the Engine retrofit for clean air prize with deadlines respectively 6 and 12 September 2017. The birthday prize aims to identify and bring to market innovative solutions preventing death and complications during pregnancy and childbirth.

The Commission takes part in CeBIT – a yearly international digital business fair held in Hanover, Germany – with its own exhibition which highlights progress in the policy initiatives on the Digital Single Market and shows state of the art ICT innovations. The fair takes place this week.

More information

David Parker

British social scientist David Parker is one of 30 highly promising researchers selected to showcase the EU's actions dedicated to excellence and worldwide mobility in research. The researchers were chosen to mark the one hundred thousandth fellow benefiting from the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA).


In the past year, Mr Parker has worked on the UK government’s Prevent Strategy (counter-radicalisation) and his research is part of the EU-funded ‘Preventing, Interdicting and Mitigating Extremist Events’ (PRIME). He has focused on analysing and designing communication measures and requirements to respond to the challenge of lone-actor terrorism in Europe. He will now move to Denmark to analyse and compare anti-radicalisation communication strategies in Denmark and the UK. His ultimate aim is to deliver recommendations on how cross-border communications can be improved and how those individuals vulnerable to radicalisation can be more effectively reached.

Out of the 30 researchers, four will come to the UK to carry out their research under MSCA. The group includes 28 European nationals, one from each EU member state, one from Colombia and one from New Zealand. Their research topics cover a wide spectrum, ranging from tackling climate change and ground breaking research on fighting cancer to retraining the brain after injury. The chosen researchers achieved the highest evaluation scores in the 2016 call for proposals for individual fellowships.

Since the launch of the programme 20 years ago, the share of female participants has been exceptionally high and 18 of the selected researchers are women.

By enabling researchers to go abroad and supporting cross-border cooperation between institutions and industry, the MSCA plays a vital part in strengthening Europe's research and innovation capacity. For every single beneficiary, the EU grant provides a crucial boost for their career and the chance to improve citizens' lives by advancing knowledge and innovation.



The MSCA, named after the double Nobel Prize winning Polish-French scientist famed for her work on radioactivity, support excellent researchers at all stages of their careers, irrespective of nationality. The programme is open to all domains of research and innovation, from fundamental research to market take-up and innovation services.

The programme aims to equip researchers with the necessary skills and international experience for a successful career, either in the public or the private sector. The actions are a key part of Horizon 2020, the EU's research and innovation programme. During the current financing period (2014 – 2020), with a budget of €6.2 billion (£5.3bn), the MSCA are expected to support around 65,000 researchers.

The 2017 call for proposals for Individual Fellowships, with a budget of almost €249 million (£212m), will be published in April on the Horizon 2020 Participants' Portal here.

Factsheets on Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions

Research funding

UK-based researchers are top of the league in the European Research Council's (ERC) latest round of mid-career consolidator grants. Fifty-eight researchers working in UK institutions will each receive up to €2 million (£1.7m) of EU funding to set up their own teams and pursue ground-breaking ideas. Germany is in second place with 48 successful applicants.


The funding has been awarded for a wide range of disciplines – from physical sciences and engineering to life sciences, social sciences and humanities.

One of the UK-based recipients is Ilaria Malanchi at the Francis Crick Institute in London. She will receive €2 million (£1.7m) to focus on the so-called "tumour niche," the non-cancerous part of the tumour structure. Ms Malanchi and her team will investigate which cells of the niche support early cancer growth. The scientists will also try to identify what reactivates "sleeping" cancer cells and thus leads to metastases growing again after a tumour has been removed. Better understanding this mechanism could ultimately improve treatment.

Carlos Moedas, Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, said: "The European Research Council has been established to find the best quality in science, to cherish it and support it, making Europe a centre of international scientific excellence. The new grant winners have been awarded this competitive funding because they are top-notch scientists with truly ground-breaking ideas – investment in their success will pay back."

An independent study released in July showed that over 70% of EU-funded European Research Council (ERC) projects have made scientific breakthroughs or major advances.


The ERC, set up by the European Union in 2007, is the first European funding organisation for excellent frontier research.

The UK's research excellence and strong research base has made it an attractive destination for ERC-funded researchers from elsewhere in Europe and beyond.

The ERC offers three core grant schemes: starting, consolidator and advanced.

Starting grants encourage young talented research leaders to gain independence in Europe and to build their own careers.

Consolidator grants back up researchers who want to establish their research teams and continue developing a successful career in Europe.

Advanced grants allow outstanding research leaders to pursue ground-breaking, high-risk projects in Europe. The scheme targets researchers who have already established themselves as top independent research leaders.

The grants fall under the 'Excellent Science' pillar of Horizon 2020, the EU's research and innovation programme.

The next deadline for application for consolidator grants is 9 February 2017.

List of all successful applicants


Eight UK universities are to receive EU Horizon 2020 funding for projects to help combat the outbreak of the Zika virus disease. The funding will support research into treatments, diagnostics and vaccines and better risk assessment for Zika.


A large proportion of the €45 million (£38.8m) earmarked by the Commission to tackle the Zika virus, and other emerging infections transmitted by mosquitoes, is going to three research consortia which include eight UK universities.

Carlos Moedas, Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, said: "This funding will be a major boost to the international effort to stop the outbreak of the Zika virus disease and protect new-borns as well as adults. Such outbreaks appear suddenly and know no borders. This research is an example of how we can mobilise funding quickly to face major new threats, and how we can lead a major research effort on a global scale."

  • ZikaPLAN (€11 million), coordinated by Umeå University in Sweden, will investigate the clinical spectrum of the Zika virus disease, the disease transmission mode, immunological consequences of infection, innovation in diagnosing novel personal preventive measures. UK partners include the University of Oxford, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Queen Mary University of London, University of Liverpool, Ulster University and University of Glasgow;

  • ZIKAction (€7 million), coordinated by the PENTA Foundation in Italy, will mainly focus on clinical studies, including prospective cohorts of pregnant women and new-borns. University College London, the University of Oxford and University of Bristol will be part of the project;

  • ZikAlliance (€12 million), coordinated by INSERM in France, will do studies on the clinical spectrum of the disease and its natural history, transmission modes and animal reservoirs, mathematical modelling, vector competence and control, and social studies. The University of Oxford, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and University of Glasgow are the UK partners.

The three consortia bring together researchers from Europe, Latin American countries and the Caribbean and will collaborate to fill the knowledge gaps on Zika infection and its consequences for pregnant women, new-born babies and adults, as well as develop improved diagnostic tests and investigate options for treatment and prevention.

They will also help set up a Latin American and Caribbean network for emerging infectious diseases preparedness and response, aiming to support a coherent research response to outbreaks of Zika and other emerging infectious diseases.

The strong involvement of researchers from Brazil and other affected countries reflects the need for a wide international effort in order to combat these infections, and builds on their close collaboration with the EU in a broad number of fields.

A further €5 million (£4.3m) will support the ZIKAVAX consortium that aims to develop a safe, effective and affordable vaccine against the virus and a €10 million (£8.6m) grant will go to the INFRAVEC2 project, coordinated by Institut Pasteur, which will provide access to facilities for research into insects that transmit infectious diseases.

The grants are to be signed in the upcoming weeks.


According to the World Health Organisation, currently some 23 countries or territories have reported microcephaly and other central nervous system malformations in new-borns potentially associated with the Zika virus infection.

EU-funded research on Zika


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