The European Commission announced the draft of the Horizon Europe framework programme on 7 June 2018. The funds of the programme, which promotes excellence, are direct-access funds awarded in open international competition.
As the RDI body responsible for the domestic coordination of the currently running research and innovation framework programme of the European Union (called Horizon 2020), in the autumn of 2017 the NRDI Office invited expert groups to help summarise the general experience and results of Hungarian participation and to suggest strategic future directions considered as key priorities by Hungary. The Hungarian position was presented in Brussels by József Pálinkás, President of the NRDI Office.
How do Hungarian businesses and research centres perform in the European competition?
The EU’s current framework programme has a budget of EUR 80 billion (HUF 24,000 billion). The hundreds of calls announced in the programme receive 30,000 proposals every year from European researchers and developers.
Hungarian institutions and businesses have won over EUR 195 million (~HUF 60 billion) in funding in Horizon 2020, the EU’s framework programme for research, development and innovation launched in 2014.
Hungarian applicants are assisted by information published on the NRDI Office’s website and free technical consultation on specific H2020 sub-programmes offered by the National Contact Points (NCPs) coordinated by the NRDI Office.
As regards awarded funding, Hungary is ranked 17th among the participating EU Member States. Hungarian SMEs have already won altogether EUR 25.5 million (approx. HUF 7.7 billion) in the so-called SME Instrument call aimed at the development and international market entry of innovative products and services. With this achievement, Hungary outperformed the EU13 and even some EU15 countries such as Belgium, Greece or Luxembourg.
What are the main objectives of the recently announced draft of Horizon Europe?
The Commission’s proposal is in line with the EU’s draft budget for the next long-term programming period between 2021 and 2027. In addition, it also fits with the Commission’s priorities for jobs, growth, fairness and democratic change and global policy priorities such as the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
The proposal is based on the approach that R&I must reflect on citizens’ priorities, boost the EU’s economic competitiveness, contribute to the sustainability of the European socio-economic model and values, and facilitate systemic solutions to challenges.
To this end, building on the success stories of the previous framework programme, Horizon Europe will continue to support the entire innovation chain in an integrated way. It will keep but also simplify the principle of “a single set of rules”.
Although the previous framework programme performed very well in terms of scientific breakthrough, enhancing competitiveness and finding solutions for societal challenges, the new programme is even more ambitious in this respect. The programme also makes a great step toward achieving the 3% RDI-spending-to-GDP ratio.
The new framework programme continues the efforts of simplification and rationalisation introduced with Horizon 2020:
- continuation of H2020 simplification measures (three-pillar structure), which garnered positive reception from the applicants;
- simplification the funding map;
- further simplification in terms of accepting actual costs, especially personal costs;
- wider acceptance of beneficiary accounting practices;
- wider application of simplified cost options (flat rate);
- reliance on the audit results of other EU funding schemes to reduce audit burden on beneficiaries;
- extension of the Guarantee Fund;
- simplified use of the “Seal of Excellence” certificate;
- the key elements of the assessment and selection process will be applicable throughout the entire framework programme.
In addition to the calls for proposals, the Commission also launches new missions to address everyday issues, characterised by ambitious targets and EU added value Missions will be designed together with member states the European Parliament, stakeholders and citizens in the framework of the strategic planning.
What are the three main pillars of the new framework programme?
Pillar I: Open Science
Ensures continuity with Horizon 2020 in supporting scientific excellence. This is achieved through European Research Council (ERC) and Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions and support provided to research infrastructures with the aim of strengthening the EU’s scientific leadership and ability to develop high-quality knowledge and skills.
Hungarian applicants have garnered more funding from ERC research excellence actions than would have been expected based on national RDI investment compared to the rest of the countries. Between 2007 and 2017, that is, during the 7th and the 8th framework programmes, 61 Hungarian organisations won altogether EUR 82 billion in funding from the ERC. This accounts for 40% of the funding awarded to the EU13 (new member states, including Hungary).
Pillar II: Global Challenges and Industrial Competitiveness
Addresses social challenges and promotes industrial competitiveness with a top-down approach in five clusters:
- Inclusive and secure societies
- Digital technologies and industry
- Climate, energy and mobility
- Food and natural resources
Pillar III: Open Innovation
While innovation is supported by the entire programme, the third pillar focuses on enhancing breakthrough, market-creating innovation by creating the European Innovation Council (EIC) which will serve as a one-stop shop for high-potential innovators in administrative matters.
According to the proposal, the mission of EIC will be to bring the most promising high potential and breakthrough technologies from lab to market application, and help the most innovative startups and companies scale up their ideas.
Actions in this pillar will have a bottom-up approach, which will significantly simplify the current funding procedure, and InvestEU Support financial instruments will also be available for cooperation with and between national and regional innovation agencies and other stakeholders.
The three pillars of the framework programme will be based on activities strengthening the European Research Area, with special respect to the spreading of excellence (the continuation of the well-known H2020 actions Teaming, Twinning and ERA Chairs) and to the reform and development of the European RDI system.
The three-pillar structure and strategic planning reinforce the internal coherence of the different programme parts in order to achieve programme level goals, and ensure a system-level impact-based approach.
How are partnerships encouraged in the new framework programme?
The Horizon Europe programme significantly boosts international cooperation which is indispensable for access to talent, knowledge, know-how, facilities and markets around the world.
The programme will be centred around “open science” which requires open access to publications and research output.
It applies a new, impact-based approach to partnerships. It will rationalise the number of partnerships to ensure their continued operation in a simpler and more open form for everyone (higher education, industry, member states, charity foundations).
The programme distinguishes between three levels of partnerships:
- co-programmed partnerships based on Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) or contractual arrangements with partners;
- co-funded partnerships with a blending of funding sources ;
- institutionalised partnerships based on Article 185 or 187 of the TFEU, and EIT regulation for KICs.
As regards the implementation of the Paris climate agreement and the UN Sustainable Development Goals, the EU undertook to spend 25% of its programme costs on climate goals.
What are the key figures of the budget?
Horizon Europe – EUR 94.1 billion
Pillar I: Open Science – EUR 25.8 billion
- European Research Council – EUR 16.6 billion
- Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions – EUR 6.8 billion
- Research infrastructures – EUR 2.4 billion
Pillar II: Global Challenges and Industrial Competitiveness– EUR 52.7 billion
- Health – EUR 7.7 billion
- Inclusive and secure societies – EUR 2.8 billion
- Digital technologies and industry – EUR 15 billion
- Climate, energy and mobility – EUR 15 billion
- Food and natural resources – EUR 10 billion
- Joint Research Centre – EUR 2.2 billion
Pillar III: Open innovation – EUR 13.5 billion
- European Innovation Council – EUR 10 billion
- European Innovation Ecosystem – EUR 0.5 billion
- European Institute of Innovation and Technology – EUR 3 billion