“Horizon 2020 – Framework Programme for Research and Innovation” (hereafter shortly referred to as “Horizon 2020 Framework Programme” or “Programme”) is the new EU funding programme for research and innovation, which will be in force between 2014 and 2020, following-up to the Seventh Framework Programme for Research which was in force from 2007 to 2013. With a foreseen allocation of approximately 80 million euros1, the Horizon 2020 Framework Programme is the largest financial support instrument for research in the European Union.

The legislative procedure for the approval of the Horizon 2020 Framework Programme is now nearing conclusion, the programme is expected to be officially launched in Portugal on December 13th, 2013 and the tender notices for the granting of the financing under the Programme are expected to be published until December 11th, 2013. It is therefore important to know the main features of this new Framework-Programme, in particular the funding opportunities that are granted to undertakings and investigators in Portugal.

In accordance with the regulation proposal submitted by the European Commission2, the funds from the Horizon 2020 Framework Programme will be granted following a call for tender, through a procedure of evaluation of tenders conducted by the European Commission or by a funding body with powers delegated by the European Commission.

As a rule, the European Commission or the relevant funding body and the participants in any given action under the Horizon 2020 Framework-Programme will enter into a “grant agreement”, setting out the rights and obligations of the participants, of the European Commission and of the relevant funding bodies.

The following will be eligible for funding from the European Union within the scope of the grants of the Horizon 2020 Framework Programme (i) any legal entity established in a Member State or associated country, or incorporated in accordance with the law of the European Union, (ii) any International European Interest Organisation, and (ii) any legal entity established in a third country identified in the working programme adopted by the European Commission. At least three legal entities must participate in an action of the Programme, and each of the three entities shall be established in a Member State or associated country, with no two of the three being established in the same Member State or associated country and all three legal entities being independent of each other.

In addition to the grants, the funding under the Horizon 2020 Framework Programme may take on other forms, such as prizes, contracts and financial instruments.

With regard to the actions it supports, the Horizon 2020 Framework Programme shall primarily allocate its resources to three different priorities – scientific excellence, industrial leadership and societal challenges.

The priority of “scientific excellence” represents approximately 31.73% of the total budget earmarked for the Programme and contemplates the following objectives:

  • Support the most talented and creative individuals and their teams to carry out frontier research of the highest quality by building on the success of the Euro-pean Research Council;
  • Fund collaborative research to open up new and promising fields of research and innovation through support for future and emerging technologies;
  • Provide researchers with excellent training and career development opportunities through the “Marie Sklodowska-Curie actions”;
  • Ensure Europe has world-class research infrastructures accessible to all researchers in Europe and beyond.

On the other hand, the “industrial leadership” represents approximately 22.09% of the total budget allocated to the Programme and seeks to contribute to:

  • Build leadership in the field of enabling and industrial technologies, such as information and communication technologies, nanotechnologies and biotechnol-ogies;
  • Facilitate access to risk financing;
  • Provide support to SMEs.

Finally, the priority “societal challenges” represents approximately 38.53% of the total budget provided for the Programme and focuses on six essential subjects:

  • Health, demographic change and wellbeing;
  • Food security, sustainable agriculture, marine and maritime research and the bio-economy;
  • Secure, clean and efficient energy;
  • Smart, green and integrated transport;
  • Climate action, resource efficiency and raw materials;
  • Inclusive, innovative and secure societies3.

In addition to these three key priorities, the Horizon 2020 Framework Programme also provides for the funding of other instruments (for a total of 7.65% of the total budget of the Programme), notably the priorities “science with and for society”, “spreading of excellence and expanding participation”, as well as the funding of the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission and of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology. Additionally, the Framework Programme allocates a sum for the Euratom programme (relating to the nuclear energy) in the amount of approximately 2.373 billion euros for the 2014 – 2020 period.

By reference to the previous framework programme (the Seventh Framework Programme for Research, which was in force between 2007 and 2013), the Horizon 2020 Framework Programme provides for an increase of the budget by approximately 30%4, and for a few relevant news, such as, for example: (i) the simplification of the Programme’s architecture, which, for the first time, unifies in a single programme all funding instruments of the European Union in the field of research and innovation and drastically reduces bureaucracy, streamlining rules and procedures, (ii) the support of innovative public private partnerships, and the (iii) creation of a specific instrument for SMEs.