The Commission has adopted an update of the 2020 Work Programme of Horizon 2020, the EU’s research and innovation programme to allocate increased funding to its priorities, including urgently needed research and innovation projects into the coronavirus.
The update includes €47.5 million in funding for the emergency call announced in early March to fight the coronavirus outbreak that led to the launch of 17 projects. 136 research teams from across the EU and beyond are already working on developing vaccines, new treatments, diagnostic tests and medical systems targeted at preventing the spread of the disease.
This decision is part of regular adjustment of the budget and actions of Horizon 2020. Other changes of this update include a dedicated ‘green deal call’ under the enhanced European Innovation Council (EIC) pilot, specific measures under the EIC pilot for women innovators, and support to the research and innovation dimension of the European Universities initiative.
Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, said:Emerging challenges require quick and effective responses from the EU. The rapid mobilisation of coronavirus research and innovation funding has proven once again that Horizon 2020 is a flexible programme, able to adapt to the immediate needs of the citizens while addressing long-term issues.
In addition to the €47.5 million emergency coronavirus call, the updated 2020 Work Programme dedicates over €350 million under the EIC pilot to SMEs with breakthrough innovations addressing one or several Green Deal objectives. SMEs can apply for grant financing of up to €2.5 million each and an additional equity investment of up to €15 million.
The EIC Work Programme also includes a targeted measure for woman innovators. For the final two cut-offs of the EIC accelerator (May and October) the Commission will ensure that at least 25% of the SMEs and start-ups invited to the final interview phase of the selection process will be led by women as the CEO or equivalent position.
The Work Programme update also boosts the research and innovation dimension of the European Universities. The Commission already launched two pilot calls for proposals under the 2019 and 2020 Erasmus+ work programmes, supporting alliances of higher education institutions. The total Horizon 2020 support of €103 million should facilitate synergies between the future Horizon Europe and the Erasmus+ Programmes.
Horizon 2020 is the EU's biggest EU research and innovation framework programme with a budget of €77 billion over seven years (2014-2020). As of March 2020, Horizon 2020 has funded more than 27 800 grants in total to the tune of €51.7 billion, of which almost €8.6 billion went to SMEs. It has provided companies, in particular SMEs, with access to risk finance worth €37.4 billion under the EU finance for innovators scheme (InnovFin). Over 6 300 ERC Principal Investigators in host organisations and over 34 000 fellows under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions will receive almost €10.4 billion and €5 billion respectively.
In June 2018, for the budget period 2021-2027, the Commission proposed Horizon Europe, the next EU research and innovation programme.