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Fund title: Horizon 2020: EU research programme

Focus of fund/fund aims:

EU funding for large-scale, international collaborative research projects.

New work programme for 2018-2020: UK businesses, universities, public bodies, charities and healthcare providers can still participate.


Application deadline:


Fund description:

The EU Horizon 2020 programme is the main source of funding for research and innovation and has a €70billion budget for  2014-2020. There are opportunities to apply for funding for projects dealing with the full spectrum of scientific and technological research, business innovation, science education and a particular focus on market-driven research – developing technological breakthroughs and creating viable commercial products that will have a real impact on today’s society.

The Horizon 2020 work programme for 2018-2020 is available here.

UK businesses and research organisations can still apply for funding: the government will underwrite payment of such awards, even when specific projects continue beyond the UK’s departure from the EU. This includes awards where the application is submitted before the exit and is subsequently approved after exit.

Horizon 2020 has 3 main themes:

Excellent science – for scientific research; career development for researchers; developing world-class research infrastructure

Industrial leadership – investment in industry-led research and innovation including ICT, advanced materials, nanotechnology; supporting innovative SMEs; access to risk finance

Societal challenges – developing innovative solutions to modern-day issues across 7 ‘challenges’:

  • Health, democratic change & wellbeing
  • Food security, sustainable agriculture and forestry, marine, maritime and inland water research and bio-economy
  • Secure, clean & efficient energy
  • Smart, green and integrated transport
  • Climate action, environment, resource efficiency and raw materials
  • Europe in a changing world – inclusive, innovative and reflective societies
  • Secure societies – protecting freedom and security of Europe and its citizens

There is also an ‘SME instrument’ to help innovative small businesses participate in the programme. Please refer to the separate DFN article on the Horizon 2020 SME instrument.

Horizon 2020 is looking for large-scale, international projects but there is scope for a whole range of partners from every sector to be involved. The important thing to bear in mind is that the funding is intended to help find solutions that will have a lasting impact at EU-level.

Where to find more information and advice:

The Horizon 2020 website has all the explanatory information about the programme:

Our recommendation is to start with the ‘Horizon 2020 programme sections’ which gives an overview of what is covered by each theme:

If you are looking for a call under a very specific theme, you may wish to go straight to the ‘Participant Portal’ and use the search facility to find the calls which match your area of interest:

If you’re new to EU research funding, we would strongly recommend seeking help from one of the UK helpdesks before proceeding. Horizon 2020 is an excellent opportunity for funding for large-scale collaborative international projects and asking for help could save a lot of wasted time in trying to navigate the vast amount of information available:


Further information: