Horizon 2020

Regulation (EU) No 1291/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 December 2013 established Horizon 2020 – the Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (2014-2020).

General objective

The general objective of Horizon 2020 is to contribute to building a society and an economy based on knowledge and innovation across the Union by leveraging additional research, development and innovation funding and by contributing to attaining research and development targets, including the target of 3 % of GDP for research and development across the Union by 2020.

It shall thereby support the implementation of the Europe 2020 strategy and other Union policies, as well as the achievement and functioning of the European Research Area (ERA).

Priorities and specific objectives

The general objective shall be pursued through three mutually reinforcing priorities dedicated to:

  1. Excellent science;
  2. Industrial leadership;
  3. Societal challenges.

1. Priority ‘Excellent science’

This Part aims to reinforce and extend the excellence of the Union’s science base and to consolidate the ERA in order to make the Union’s research and innovation system more competitive on a global scale.

It consists of four specific objectives:

  1. “The European Research Council (ERC)” shall provide attractive and flexible funding to enable talented and creative individual researchers and their teams to pursue the most promising avenues at the frontier of science, on the basis of Union-wide competition.
  2. “Future and emerging technologies (FET)” shall support collaborative research in order to extend Europe’s capacity for advanced and paradigm-changing innovation. It shall foster scientific collaboration across disciplines on radically new, high-risk ideas and accelerate development of the most promising emerging areas of science and technology as well as the Union-wide structuring of the corresponding scientific communities.
  3. “Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions” shall provide excellent and innovative research training as well as attractive career and knowledge-exchange opportunities through cross-border and cross-sector mobility of researchers to best prepare them to face current and future societal challenges.
  4. “Research infrastructures” shall develop and support excellent European research infrastructures and assist them to contribute to the ERA by fostering their innovation potential, attracting world-level researchers and training human capital, and complement this with the related Union policy and international cooperation.

2. Priority ‘Industrial leadership’

This Part aims to speed up development of the technologies and innovations that will underpin tomorrow’s businesses and help innovative European SMEs to grow into world-leading companies.

It consists of three specific objectives:

  1. “Leadership in enabling and industrial technologies” shall provide dedicated support for research, development and demonstration and, where appropriate, for standardisation and certification, on information and communications technology (ICT), nanotechnology, advanced materials, biotechnology, advanced manufacturing and processing and space. Emphasis will be placed on interactions and convergence across and between the different technologies and their relations to societal challenges. User needs shall be taken into account in all these fields.
  2. “Access to risk finance” shall aim to overcome deficits in the availability of debt and equity finance for R&D and innovation-driven companies and projects at all stages of development. Together with the equity instrument of the Programme for the Competitiveness of Enterprises and small and medium-sized enterprises (COSME) (2014-2020) it shall support the development of Union-level venture capital.
  3. “Innovation in SMEs” shall provide SME-tailored support to stimulate all forms of innovation in SMEs, targeting those with the potential to grow and internationalise across the single market and beyond.

3. Priority ‘Societal challenges’

This Part responds directly to the policy priorities and societal challenges that are identified in the Europe 2020 strategy and that aim to stimulate the critical mass of research and innovation efforts needed to achieve the Union’s policy goals.

Funding shall be focused on the following specific objectives:

  1. Health, demographic change and well-being;
  2. Food security, sustainable agriculture and forestry, marine, maritime and inland water research, and the bioeconomy;
  3. Secure, clean and efficient energy;
  4. Smart, green and integrated transport;
  5. Climate action, environment, resource efficiency and raw materials;
  6. Europe in a changing world – Inclusive, innovative and reflective societies;
  7. Secure societies – Protecting freedom and security of Europe and its citizens.

The Joint Research Centre

The Joint Research Centre (JRC) shall contribute to the general objective and priorities of Horizon 2020 with the specific objective of providing customer-driven scientific and technical support to Union policies.

The European Institute of Innovation and Technology

The European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) shall contribute to the general objective and priorities of Horizon 2020 with the specific objective of integrating the knowledge triangle of higher education, research and innovation.


The financial envelope for the implementation of Horizon 2020 is set at EUR 77028,3 million in current prices,

Complementarity with other Union programmes

Horizon 2020 shall be implemented in a way which is complementary to other Union funding programmes and policies, including

  • the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESI Funds),
  • the Common Agricultural Policy,
  • the Programme for the Competitiveness of Enterprises and small and medium- sized enterprises (COSME) (2014–2020),
  • the Erasmus+ programme and
  • the Life Programme.

 More details

Detailed information are available on the Horizon 2020 website.