Horizon 2020


Horizon 2020 is the new EU funding programme for research and innovation, running from 2014 to 2020. Its goal is to ensure Europe produces world-class science, removes barriers to innovation and makes it easier for the public and private sectors to work together in delivering innovation. It has an increased budget (around €80 billion) and a stronger focus on innovation compared with the previous Framework Programme 7 (FP7), which ran from 2007 until 2013.

There are three main pillars within Horizon 2020: Excellent Science, Industrial Leadership and Societal Challenges. Within Societal Challenges (SC) - external link there are seven societal challenges, with the main interest for the NERC community anticipated to be in:

There is a greater emphasis on impact, requiring impact statements, and more emphasis on innovation, supporting all stages in the research and innovation chain including non-technological and social innovation and activities closer to the market. Proposals may also bring together different disciplines, sectors and actors to tackle specific challenges; eg scientists, industry, SMEs, societal partners and end-users.

Horizon 2020 work programmes

Funding opportunities under Horizon 2020 are generally set out in multiannual work programmes. These are developed in consultation with stakeholders including the Horizon 2020 Advisory Groups - external link, Expert Groups - external link, Joint Programming Initiatives (JPIs) - external link - and the programme committee for each challenge.

The work programmes are prepared by the European Commission within the framework provided by the Horizon 2020 legislation and through a strategic programming process integrating EU policy objectives in the priority setting.

2016-2017 work programmes

The open calls can be found in the 2016-17 work programmes - external link. Full details can be found on the Horizon 2020 website - external link - and on the Participant Portal - external link.

2018-2020 work programmes

The European Commission is starting to prepare the next Horizon 2020 work programme and calls for proposals to cover the period 2018-2020. The commission launched a stakeholder consultation (PDF) - external link - on the research and innovation priorities for the next Work Programme for Societal Challenge 5 and is in the process of analysing the results alongside other inputs including expert group reports. The details of the preparation for the work programme are available on the 2018-20 work programme webpage - external link.

Expert groups

For the development of the 2016-17 Societal Challenge 5 calls several ad hoc expert groups were set up. The information in the expert group reports - external link - has helped to inform the call topics in the 2016-17 work programmes:

Support for UK investigators to engage with H2020

The UK Research Office (UKRO) - external link - in Brussels is funded by NERC and the other research councils to support researchers' participation in the EU framework programmes. UKRO's mission is to promote effective UK engagement in EU research, innovation and higher education activities. Through an organisational subscription service UKRO provides an information portal, an enquiry service, a tailored annual visit, and an annual conference for European officers.

National Contact Points (NCPs) - external link - have been established on behalf of the Department of Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS). Each theme of Horizon 2020 has an NCP who supports both the academic and business communities through providing guidance on Horizon 2020 topics and actions, and advice on administrative procedures and proposal writing.

ERA-NET and Horizon 2020

The objective of the European Commission's ERA-NET scheme - external link - is to support coordination of national and regional research programmes of European member states, through joint activities or joint calls for trans-national proposals.

Under the ERA-NET scheme, national and regional authorities identify research programmes they wish to coordinate or open up mutually. The participants in these actions are therefore programme 'owners' (typically ministries or regional authorities defining research programmes) or programme 'managers' (such as research councils or other research funding agencies managing research programmes).

The ERA-NET under Horizon 2020 merges the former ERA-NET and ERA-NET Plus under FP7 into a single instrument with the central and compulsory element of implementing one substantial call with top-up funding from the Commission.

NERC Head Office is involved with the following ERA-NETs under Horizon 2020:

Contact us

For any further information please contact:

International Team
Natural Environment Research Council
Polaris House, North Star Avenue
Swindon, SN2 1EU