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 seven year 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 ratification of the overall deal, finalisation of the Horizon Europe Programme regulations, 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.

The EU Commission has published the main work programme - ec.europa.eu website of Horizon Europe for the period 2021-2022, which outlines the objectives and specific topic areas that will receive a total of €14.7bn in funding and the UK will be able to participate in the first work programme and calls. The department strongly encourages NI researchers and businesses to form collaborative partnerships with international counterparts and prepare to bid into Horizon Europe.

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.   

Further details are available on the UK Government and UK Research and Innovation websites:

As more information becomes available, key points for the NI research community will be updated on the Horizon Europe NI website.

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 website 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.

Horizon 2020 ends

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.

Projects funded under Horizon 2020 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 website for queries on Horizon 2020 and Horizon Europe. 

NI performance under Horizon 2020

The Northern Ireland Executive Sub Committee on the Economy agreed a NI Horizon 2020 Strategy with an associated target to secure at least €145m from Horizon 2020. The strategy, which was launched in March 2015, set out the key actions required to deliver the Executive's target of €145m.

Despite the uncertainty from Brexit, which did reduce numbers of applications, 296 successful NI participants across academia, the private and public sectors have secured up to €95.8m through competitive open calls under Horizon 2020.

The Green Deal call, which closed on 26 January 2021, paved the way for Horizon Europe. The results of this call should be available shortly, with projects starting in November or December. It will fund a small number of large and highly visible projects demonstrating the feasibility of new technologies and solutions. 

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