Horizon 2020 Programme

Updated last 26.03.2021

Currently the programme period 2014-2020 has expired and under way is the preparation of a future framework programme “Horizon Europe”, which is a continuation of the “Horizon 2020” Programme. Further information for the “Horizon Europe” Programme is available here.

What is the program about?

Horizon 2020 is a financial instrument for scientific research and innovation within the initiative of the EU European Innovation Council. The program is managed by DG Research and Innovation of the EC.

What is the main objective of the program?

Horizon 2020 is the largest research and innovation program of the EU to date. The objective is to support the accomplishment of more scientific achievements, inventions and novelties by bringing innovative ideas from labs to markets.

What is the budget of the program?

For 2014-2020 the budget of the program is nearly 80 billion EUR for investment in growth and new jobs.

How is the budget of the program allocated?

Horizon 2020 is organized along the following three priority areas (with the relevant instruments and subprograms under each area):

  • Excellent Science:

– European Research Council;

– Future and Emerging Technologies;

– Activities under Maria Sklodowska-Curie Program;

– European Research Infrastructures;

  • Industrial Leadership:

– Enabling and Industrial Technologies;

– Access to risk finance;

– Innovation in small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) (including the SME Instrument Initiative);

  • Societal Challenges:

– Health, demographic change and wellbeing;

– Food security, sustainable agriculture and forestry, marine and maritime and inland water research, and the Bioeconomy;

– Secure, clean and efficient energy;

– Smart, green and integrated transport;

– Climate action, environment, resource efficiency and raw materials;

– Inclusive, innovative and reflective societies;

– Secure European societies.

Additional lines for financing under Horizon 2020:

  • Dissemination of excellence and expansion of participation;
  • Science with and for society;
  • Cross-sectoral activities;
  • Direct way to innovation;
  • European Institute of Innovation and Technologies;
  • Joint research centers.

What are the types of activities and beneficiaries that are financed?

  • Research and innovation activities – level of EU financing – 100%:

– Activities intended for establishment of new knowledge and/or for exploring the feasibility of new or improved technologies, products, processes, services or solutions. For this purpose those can include fundamental and applied research, design and integration of technologies, testing and validation of small prototypes in laboratory or simulated environment. Projects can contain closely connected but limited demonstration or pilot activities intended to demonstrate technical feasibility in an environment that is close to the operating environment;

Who can apply – a consortium of at least three non-related legal entities (incl. research organizations, universities, NGO, etc.) from three different states (from the EU and from associated states within the meaning of the program);

  • Innovation activities – level of EU financing – 70% (with the exception of non-profit organizations – they are financed at 100%):

– Activities directly focused on preparation of plans or designs for new, modified, or improved products, processes or services. This can include prototypes, testing, demonstration and pilot activities, large-scale product validation and market replication;

Who can apply – a consortium of at least three non-related legal entities (incl. research organizations, universities, NGO, etc.) from three different states (from the EU and from associated states within the meaning of the program).

  • Coordination and support activities – level of EU financing – -100%:

– Accompanying measures such as standardization, dissemination, raising of awareness and communication, networking, coordination, ancillary services;

Who is eligible – no consortium required. Any legal entity from states eligible under the program can participate.

How can you apply under the program?

Steps of the application process:

Identifying opportunities

Identifying opportunities

You can identify an opportunity on the website of the European Commission.

It should be noted that the program provides for three options for application for/obtaining grant financing:

  • The entire project proposal is submitted at a single stage (single-stage model);
  • Project proposal submitted at two stages (two-stage model); initially a brief description of the idea (up to 10 pages) is submitted; complete project proposal (up to 70 pages) is submitted only after successful completion of stage one);
  • In respect of some of the topics of the SME Instrument you can submit a proposal at any time; deadlines mean that all proposals received before the cut-off date will be evaluated after this cut-off date.

Competitions for awards are organized under the Program with monetary prizes for contestants who complete a task or solve a given problem in the most efficient way.

Finding a partner

Finding a partner

You can find a partner on the website of the European Commission .

Creating an account

Creating an account

The creation of an account is initiated though the website of the European Commission.

Registration of candidate

Registration of candidate

Registration is done through the website of the European Commission .

Submission of proposal

Submission of proposal

Project proposal is prepared in English and is submitted via the electronic system. There is an online manual available with detailed description of all steps of the application process.

What are the procedure, criteria, and methodology for evaluation of project proposals?

Project proposals evaluation is split into two stages:

Evaluation of administrative compliance and eligibility:

It answers questions such as: is the content of proposals consistent with the requirements of the call; is there a required number of eligible candidates, etc.?


This is performed only for project proposals that successfully pass the evaluation of administrative compliance and eligibility. Prior to assessment, evaluation is performed to determine, if candidates have the relevant operating and financial capability to implement the project.

In the course of the evaluation, the excellence, impact and quality and efficiency of implementation is evaluated. The following domains are assessed as per the described criteria:

  • Excellence – clarity and pertinence of objectives, soundness of concept and credibility of proposed methodology for implementation;
  • Impact – degree to which project outcomes would contribute to the anticipated impact of the procedure;
  • Quality and efficiency of implementation – quality of work plan, including resources; relevant team and adequate allocation of tasks under the project, risk management procedures, etc.

What are the eligible expenses under Horizon 2020?

  • Direct personnel expenses (salaries, social security contributions, business trip allowances, etc.);
  • Direct costs for subcontracting;
  • Other direct expenses – travel expenses, rent, lease, supplies, services, etc.;
  • Indirect costs – fixed rate of 25% of the value of eligible direct expenses under the project subject to certain limitations.

What are the deadlines to apply in calls for proposals under the program?

Each call for proposals specifies the relevant deadline for application.

For more information
For more information

Additional information on Horizon 2020 is available on the websites of:

For more information
For more information

Information on the four instruments under Horizon 2020 directly related to financing and promotion of SME is available on the websites below:

You can also see the detailed descriptions of those instruments in this section of the present manual.