Horizon 2020 - Essential Knowledge for Researchers at MH

This page provides information to researchers at the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences about European research funding opportunities.

Looking for something else? For any questions about EU funding, contact our EU advisors Boukje Ehlen or Emma Walton.

Horizon 2020 is the biggest ever innovation research program with nearly €80 billion in funding available over 7 years (2014-2020) from the EU. It will provide the money needed to address some of the urgent issues relevant to society such as healthcare, caring for the elderly, food safety, clean energy, and protecting the environment, while boosting the economy and creating jobs. 

It is divided into three main sections:

Excellent Science – will fund the best scientific ideas, train talented researchers and ensure access to world-class facilities. Through this initiative, the European Research Council (ERC) is providing grants to help young researchers to set up their own team, but also grants to support established teams. Researchers can also obtain individual grants through Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions to further the development of their career. Funding is also available for research infrastructure and future and emerging technologies (FETs). 

Industrial Leadership – will promote investment in research and innovation in Europe and stimulate the growth of European companies, in particular small and medium enterprises (SMEs). Support is available for the following FETs: Information and Communication Technologies, Nanotechnologies, Advanced Materials, Biotechnology, Advanced Manufacturing and Processing, Space.

Societal challenges – will address the major problems faced by society in the 21st century. This program is split into 8 sections related to health, food, the environment, energy, transport and security.

Check out this video for a beginner’s guide to H2020.

Why participate in Horizon 2020? #

Besides getting funding for your research, participation in H2020 offers the following advantages:

  • Networks. Establish a partner network with organisations from other sectors (e.g. business).
  • Prestige. Increase your visibility in your field and receive an “EU stamp of quality” on your research.
  • Impact and dissemination. Partnering with organisations across the EU and further afield will enable your research to have a wider impact than it could on the national level.
  • Developing your project idea. When writing a proposal, you will need to present the costs and benefits of your project and think about its long term benefit to society.

How is horizon 2020 different from previous EU-funded programs? #

H2020 focuses on impact and innovation, i.e. how can my research improve the life of people both within and outside the EU? In fact, ‘impact’ is one of the three main criteria by which proposals are judged and should be emphasised at every step of the application. In addition, H2020 is more open to small businesses, with over 20% of funding going to SMEs. Finally, H2020 aims to foster international collaboration: most (but not all) proposals must be made by three partners from public institutions or industry, each of which is based in a different country.

  • The three exceptions to this rule, ERC grants, Marie Sklodowska-Curie Individual Fellowships and SME instruments, accept applications from single centres.

Am I eligible for funding? #

Basically, any natural or legal persons (e.g. companies of any size, academics, public bodies, charities, healthcare providers etc.) can apply. You don’t have to be based in an EU member state to benefit from H2020. Associated countries, including Norway, and third countries are also eligible for funding. The amount of funding you get depends on the specific call, the legal status of your organisation and your contribution to H2020.

Where can I find a call? #

The EU invites researchers to apply for funding by publishing a “call for proposals”. Calls are published regularly on the European Commission’s Participant Portal. Here you can filter your search according to the categories and subcategories of H2020. Alternatively, you can use the Search Topics tab on this webpage to search call proposals for keywords related to your field. You can also set up the Participant Portal to send you emails about new calls.

Where can I get help with the application? #

To get help with your application, contact the EU advisor at your faculty. They can answer any questions related to the process, help you to write and to review the application and even keep an eye out for potentially interesting calls for your team if you outline your basic research objectives.

NTNU provides support for the proposal writing phase. If you have already identified a suitable call, you can apply for a Prosjekt Etabeling Støtte (PES). If you are interested in EU funding, but are not sure which call to apply to, you can ask for a small grant to participate in meetings that may lead to EU projects.

How can I apply? #

All applications must be submitted electronically through the participant portal. The standard length of an application for calls involving consortia is around 70 pages. You will need to prepare the application well in advance to ensure that all of the necessary information can be obtained from you and your collaborators before the deadline. Always contact your local EU advisor if you wish to submit an application, and they will help you to set up the participant portal. The application must be approved by the leader of your institute.

Some calls are ‘1-stage’, which means that you submit a full proposal before the deadline, whereas ‘2-stage’ calls have a 2-step procedure. In stage 1, you submit an outline proposal (normally a maximum of 15 pages). If your proposal passes stage 1, then you will be invited to submit your full proposal in stage 2.

How are grant proposals judged? #

Proposals are judged by an independent panel of experts (at least three, but in many cases five or more) according to the following criteria in most cases: excellence, impact and quality and efficiency of implementation. The exact definition of these measures varies slightly among the different types of calls.

What are my chances of success? #

Statistics published on the H2020 website regarding calls made in 2014 report an overall success rate of 1 in 8. However, this rate varies between calls and may be higher or lower depending on your field. Writing a grant application is a large commitment, so you must prepare yourself for disappointment if, like most applications, yours is not funded. However, the potential benefits are huge, with several million euros of funding being awarded to successful applicants in many cases. Even if your application is not funded, the experience gained will undoubtedly increase your chances of success in the future.

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