Facts about Horizon Europe

Horizon Europe is a continuation of Horizon 2020. One important change is the introduction of mission-oriented research and innovation, where the ‘missions’ are ambitious research and innovation commitments to solve major selected societal challenges. The European Commission describes Horizon Europe as an evolution, not a revolution, compared with Horizon 2020.

Horizon Europe’s three pillars

Horizon Europe retains the three-pillar structure we are familiar with from Horizon 2020, but the content of each pillar will change somewhat.

Excellent science – Pillar 1

Pillar 1 continues the ground-breaking and curiosity-driven research initiatives under the European Research Council (ERC), the mobility funding instruments under Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions and research infrastructure.

Global challenge and industrial competitiveness – Pillar 2

Pillar 2 is organised into six wide-ranging clusters that continue initiatives from Horizon 2020 targeting societal challenges and industrial leadership (enabling technologies). Thematic research and innovation in collaboration projects are funded under Pillar 2.

It has been proposed to earmark more than half of Horizon Europe’s budget to Pillar 2. Initiatives in missions and partnerships will also be funded under this pillar.

Open innovation – Pillar 3

The most important new initiative under this Pillar is the establishment of the European Innovation Council (EIC), which offers two main instruments: Pathfinder, which funds the development of breakthrough technologies and innovations with commercialisation potential, and Accelerator, which provides funding and guarantees for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) for the purpose of market introduction and upscaling.

Pathfinder is mainly based on Horizon 2020’s Future and Emerging Technologies (FET) programme, while Accelerator is based on the SME instrument and the Fast Track to Innovation programme.

Pillar 3 also includes an initiative to build better ecosystems for innovation, and funds are being earmarked for the further development of the European Institute for Innovation and Technology (EIT).

The Research Council's presentation of Horizon Europe (pdf in Norwegian).

What are "missions"?

In the Horizon Europe context, missions or social missions are a tool for solving major societal challenges. Through clear, time-limited, and targeted thematic assignments, the aim is to set a political agenda and create popular commitment for the social missions.

There will be separate mission announcements. Initially, funds will be announced for a limited number of preparatory projects through so-called co-ordination and support actions. During the summer of 2021, the EU will decide whether and how the mission areas will be implemented on a full scale. During the autumn of 2021, the EU will announce funding for several projects under five mission areas.

Areas where there will be missions