Background information on the Horizon Europe programme.

What is Horizon Europe?

Horizon Europe is the largest collaborative research and innovation (R&I) programme in the world with €95.5bn funding available over the programme from 2021-2027. It provides funding support to researchers and innovators ranging from individuals to large scale businesses.

As part of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) between the UK and EU, the UK will associate to the Horizon Europe Programme, subject to formalisation of the association agreement and adoption of the protocols agreed under the EU-UK TCA. Association will give UK and Northern Ireland (NI) scientists, researchers and businesses access to funding under the programme on equivalent terms as organisations in EU countries.

Horizon Europe will keep the same focus on excellent research of its predecessor, Horizon 2020. Funding calls will be based on three main areas:

  • excellent science
  • global challenges and European industrial competitiveness
  • Innovative Europe

The main work programme of Horizon Europe for the period 2023-2024 outlines the objectives and specific topic areas that will receive a total of €13.5bn in funding and NI scientists, researchers and businesses are strongly encouraged to form collaborative partnerships with international counterparts and to bid into Horizon Europe.

UK association to Horizon Europe

On 7 September 2023, the UK agreed a deal with the EU to associate to Horizon Europe. UK and NI researchers can now apply for Horizon Europe funding, certain that all successful UK and NI applicants will be covered through the UKs association (or through the guarantee for the remainder of the programme. Programme 2024 will be covered by association, and the UK guarantee scheme will be extended to cover all calls under the Work Programme 2023. 

On 15 November 2023, the Council of the EU announced that it has approved the agreement in principle reached between the Commission and the UK government on 7 September 2023.

On 4 December 2023, the UK and EU signed the bespoke new agreement at an EU-UK Specialised Committee for participation in Union Programmes (SCPUP) finalising the UKs association to Horizon Europe and Copernicus programmes.  

A UK-EU agreement explainer - website for UK Horizon Europe applicants and grant holders has been published by the UK government providing further detail on eligibility, what association status means, work programme detail and what is included. 

The European Commission has also published a comprehensive Q&A on UK association to Horizon Europe

The Horizon Europe UK guarantee scheme (which will remain in place for the remainder of 2023) is delivered through UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) which has published details about eligibility, scope and how to apply.  

Horizon Europe guarantee: applications and grant offer statistics shows UK and regional level successful participation in the Horizon Europe programme through the UKRI guarantee.

Latest available UKRI regional data shows NI researchers and businesses with successful Horizon Europe proposals have been awarded 42 grants through UKRI worth £14m.

Further details on Horizon Europe are available on the UK government and UKRI websites:

Is there help available for potential Horizon Europe applicants?

Northern Ireland Contact Point (NICP) Network

The NICP network is a resource available to all potential applicants from Northern Ireland who are interested in engaging with Horizon Europe. Northern Ireland-based NICP network members on the Horizon Europe support contacts can provide support in the form of:

  • organising relevant events/workshops
  • assistance with identifying areas of relevance within the competitive Horizon Europe calls
  • help in identifying collaborative partners for applications
  • engaging with National Contact Points
  • practical advice and support with the process itself

Further information and key points, events and news for the NI research community is available on the Horizon Europe NI website.

Horizon 2020

The predecessor programme to Horizon Europe - Horizon 2020, or European Framework Programme 8 for Research and Innovation - ran under the seven-year Multi-annual Financial Framework 2014-2020. It ended with a number of Green Deal calls, which closed in January 2021.

NI researchers and businesses successfully achieved 314 successful Horizon 2020 participations in respect of 259 signed grants across academia, the private and public sectors securing up to €95.06m through competitive open calls under Horizon 2020, representing a significant increase in NI success and funding from the previous FP7 programme.

Any projects funded under Horizon 2020 that are still ongoing should be unaffected by the UK leaving the EU, apart perhaps from minor changes in relation to how data is handled. For current UK recipients of Horizon 2020 funding, the terms and conditions will remain the same as agreed under the Withdrawal Agreement.

Help and support continue to be available from the Horizon Europe support contacts for queries on Horizon 2020 and Horizon Europe. 

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