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 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.

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:

The UK government’s priority remains association to Horizon Europe. To provide reassurance to the Research & Development sector and their European partners during the current delays, the UK Government made an announcement on 29 November 2021 that a financial safety net would be made available for the first wave of successful UK Horizon Europe applicants who have been unable to sign grant agreements with the EU: 

The funding will be delivered through UK Research and Innovation who have published details about eligibility, scope and how to apply:

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

The latest figures show that there were 306 successful NI Horizion 2020 participations across academia, the private and public sectors who have secured up to €95.3m through competitive open calls under Horizon 2020, representing a significant increase in NI success and funiding from the previous FP 7 programme.

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