Since 2014, there were eight EU-wide research and innovation funding programs with a budget of about €80 billion; Horizon 2020 (officially called Horizon Europe) is presently a functioning one for the coming decade. Its objectives are to stimulate economic growth, create jobs, foster collaboration in research and innovation, support excellent science and industrial leadership and tackle societal challenges in Europe.
Recent program’s evaluation was drawn on a wide evidence base with over 1,000 interviews with project beneficiaries, national authorities and implementing bodies, as well as surveys of both successful and unsuccessful participants. It combines extensive quantitative and qualitative analyses and builds on a large open public consultation with close to 2000 replies.
New elements in Horizon 2020
There are presently the following new elements in the program:
= European Innovation Council: Support for innovations with potential breakthrough and disruptive nature with scale-up potential that may be too risky for private investors. This is 70% of the budget earmarked for SMEs.
= Missions: Sets of measures to achieve bold, inspirational and measurable goals within a set timeframe. There are 5 main mission areas as part of Horizon Europe.
= Open science policy: Mandatory open access to publications and open science principles are applied throughout the programme
= Factsheet: Open science in Horizon Europe
= New approach to partnerships: Objective-driven and more ambitious partnerships with industry in support of EU policy objectives.
Horizon Europe is the EU’s key funding program for research and innovation with a total budget of €95.5 billion.
Horizon 2020: main achievements
More than 35 000 projects over seven years were funded though the program: they attracted over a million individual applications from 177 countries from the EU and around the world. The program played a crucial role in combating modern challenges, e.g. about 64.4 percent of the budget has been invested in fighting climate change and sustainable development; together with its predecessor FP7 program, it is the second largest provider of climate science in the world.
The program financed concrete solutions in various socio-economic sectors, such as novel hydrogen-fuelled transports, mRNA vaccines, photonics, micro- and nano-electronics, to name a few. Almost 4,000 patents and trademarks resulted from Horizon 2020 funding. The European Innovation Council stood out for its unprecedented support to potentially ground-breaking technological innovations and to deep tech companies.
Horizon 2020 fueled a remarkable 20% additional growth in employment and a 30% increase in turnover and total assets for participating firms compared to the ones that were unsuccessful despite high quality applications. In the long term, the program is estimated to contribute an average annual increase of €15.9 billion to EU GDP, totaling €429 billion over the period 2014-2040.
Scientists funded by the Horizon 2020 contributed to over 276,000 peer-reviewed publications. Horizon 2020 also supported 33 Nobel Prize winners. Horizon 2020 was also pivotal in diversifying and enhancing researchers’ skills and knowledge. Horizon 2020 supported the mobility of close to 50,000 researchers across sectors and countries. In addition, the program enabled to develop and upgrade large-scale research infrastructure projects both in Europe and around the world: e.g. over 24,000 researchers and organisations gained access to these infrastructures, expanding opportunities for collaborative work and scientific advancements.
The program efficiency is clear: each euro invested in research and innovation brings ultimately five euros in benefits EU-wide, proving high value for money of investment in research and innovation for the European society’s progress.
Areas of improvements
The evaluation identified the following areas for improvement:
= broader participation,
= further simplification and reduction of the administrative burden,
= reinforcement of the dissemination, exploitation and deployment of results,
= support for the participation of women, and
= enhancement of synergies with other initiatives at EU, national and regional level.
The Commission concluded that the insights and key conclusions of the final evaluation of Horizon 2020 would play a crucial role both in shaping the ongoing program’s implementation, and influencing the policy development for future research and innovation initiatives. This ensures that lessons learnt are effectively integrated into current and future programs, enhancing their EU-wide efficiency, relevance and impact.
Iliana Ivanova, Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth summarized the program’s evaluation:
“Long-standing investment in research and innovation provides high value for money for the society. It is the cornerstone of a greener and smarter future as well as a key element of EU competitiveness and strategic sovereignty. Horizon 2020 enabled pivotal science breakthroughs with tangible impact on our lives, from overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic to fighting climate change and delivered ground-breaking innovations that benefitted our companies and society at large. The insights of this final evaluation will guide us in improving Horizon Europe and feed into the reflections on the future of EU research and innovation policies and programs”.
Reference to: https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_24_461
More information in the following Commission’s websites: = Commission Report of the final evaluation of Horizon 2020; = Executive Summary of the final evaluation of Horizon 2020; and the general source = Horizon Europe.