Horizon 2020: Get started, now

With a budget of 70 billion euro, Horizon 2020 provides many funding opportunities for researchers at AU. But it can take a long time to build consortia with commercial partners and strong academic partners. Therefore it is important to get ready now, says the Research Support Office.

2013.06.03 | Andreas G. Jensby

The competition for funding will be fierce and there will be an emphasis on strong research consortia and projects when the new EU programme for research and innovation, Horizon 2020, with a budget of 70 billion euro replaces the current Framework Programme FP7 on 1 January 2014.

That is why AU's Research Support Office now recommends all AU researchers to start finding academic and commercial partners.

- In particular, many find it difficult to identify SMEs to work with. This takes time, so it is important to start building consortia in order to be ready to apply. Involving SMEs will make your consortium more competitive because the EU puts emphasis on growth and job creation, says John Westensee from the Research Support Office.

Strong partners and interdisciplinarity

To a greater extent than today, Horizon 2020 aims to support research and innovation projects that create growth and jobs and address major societal challenges to a greater extent than in previous programmes.

- In addition, interdisciplinarity will become increasingly important.The interdisciplinarity is a very important parameter. This means that humanities and social sciences will play a pivotal role in all parts of Horizon 2020. While the societal challenge focussing on humanities and social sciences ended up with a small budget, these research fields will make a contribution to the more technical challenges in the programme, says John Westensee.

According to the AU strategy we should almost double the revenues from the EU and more projects should be coordinated from Aarhus. John Westensee therefore encourages researchers to engage with Horizon 2020 and - wherever they are in the process - to contact the Research Support Office for assistance.

How money is divided

The three main focus areas of research are: Excellent Science, Industrial Leadership and Societal Challenges.The European Commission expects a total budget of about 70 billion euros. This is expected to be divided as follows (a part of the total amount is administration, so the numbers do not add up to a 100 per cent):

  1. Excellent Science: 29%                    
  2. Industrial Leadership: 21%                    
  3. Societal Challenges: 37%                    

    1. Health, demographic change and wellbeing: 25%
    2. Food security, sustainable agriculture marine and maritime research and the bio-economy: 13%
    3. Secure clean and efficient energy: 18%
    4. Smart, green and integrated transport: 21%
    5. Climate action, resource efficiency, and raw materials: 10%
    6. Europe in a changing world – inclusive, innovative and reflective societies - and:
    7. Secure societies – protecting freedom and security of Europe and its citizens: 12%

What are the funding instruments in the three areas?

The main type of funding within the areas of Industrial Leadership and Societal Challenges is the "collaborative project". This instrument funds research collaborations involving at least three partner organisations from three European Member States (or associated countries). Consortia including commercial partners (in particular SMEs) will generally be considered more competitive. An interdisciplinary approach, especially including social sciences and humanities aspects of the research area, is also encouraged.

The area of Excellent Science will cover four different groups of funds:

  • European Research Council (ERC) will support the most talented and creative scientists and their research teams to carry out exceptional and pioneering research
  • Future and Emerging Technologies (FET) will fund research collaborations similar in format to collaborative projects which open up new and promising areas of research and innovation
  • Marie Sk?odowska-Curie Actions provide a range of transnational fellowships aimed at career development through research training and exchange schemes to foster intersectoral connections.
  • Infrastructure funding (including e-infrastructures) to develop new infrastructures and to integrate existing infrastructures across Europe

The structure of Horizon 2020

Adapted from UCL's European Research and Development Office

Status and first calls

Currently the European Parliament and the European Commission are in the process of negotiating in parallel the final budget allocations, the programme details and the rules for participation. The European Commission plans to announce the first "calls for proposals" in January 2014, or latest in spring 2014.

It is expected that the call topics will be less narrowly defined in Horizon 2020 compared with FP7 and that the subsequent management and audit requirements will be less heavy and complex than before.

How can AU researchers prepare now?

You can identify "challenges" and ideas that fit under the themes of Horizon 2020 and build relevant consortia which match the requirements for the collaborative projects, i.e. with researchers from other EU countries as well as commercial partners, especially SMEs.

An additional course of action is to lobby for your views and ideas for European research to be included in the programme. There are various channels – through your national and international professional organisations as well as through AU official representatives on various advisory committees.

Coming courses from the Research Support Office

Where can you get help?

AU Research and Talent – Research Support Office

  • Lobbying and strategic positioning
    Research Support, Strategy
    John Westensee, Director of Research Support
    +45 5098 4662

  • Consortium building, proposal planning and development
    Research Support, Fundraising
    Jakob D. Sørensen, Teamleader

  • Horizon 2020 – Project approval and financial management
    Research Support, Project Management
    Contract negotiation, and reporting stage; Audits
    Grethe Baasch Thomsen, EU special consultant
    7846 6888
  • Project management
    Research Support, Project Management
    Project-funded professional administrative support
    Jakob Vester, Special Consultant
    +45 21364371

Please contact the Research Support Office as early in the proposal development process as possible.

Further information

Read more about Horizon 2020 at the European Commission's website or view a presentation on Horizon 2020.

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