NEWS Horizon Europe is coming…

Horizon Europe is the follow-up programme to Horizon 2020. Although a budget and specific work programme has not yet been agreed, the European Commission has reached agreement on the key elements of the new programme.

18-03-2020 | 11:03

These are summarized in the below framework with further detail here: (also a good resource for news about European funding). Horizon Europe will support research and innovation from 2021-2027 with the first (bi-annual) call in 2021. The strategy sets out 3 pillars for funding, each of which will be supported by activities to widen participation and strengthening the European Research Area.

Preliminary Horizon Europe Structure1   

Pillar 1 and 3

Pillars 1 and 3 in the framework are ‘bottom up’ which means that researchers can decide on focus and topic of the proposal:

Pillar 1: ERC, Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions, Research Infrastructures
The EU will continue to invest in a number of current ‘FET Flagships’. Particularly relevant for LEARN! is the Human Brain Project which aims to achieve a comprehensive understanding of the human brain and its diseases by combining neuroscience with advanced ICT, enhancing and operating a sustainable and open European Research Infrastructure.

Pillar 3:Innovative Europe: supporting the development and deployment of disruptive and market-creating innovations, enhancing the overall European innovation landscape by linking together European ecosystems, and reinforcing the synergies between academia, entrepreneurs, not least SMEs, users (incl. citizens) and market operators. 

Pillar 2 and Social Sciences and Humanities research (SSH)

Pillar 2 consists of so-called clusters, quite comparable to the H2020 societal challenges. All these clusters address different UN Sustainable Development Goals.

As a new concept, Horizon Europe is introducing missions: high-ambition, high-profile initiatives which will put forward concrete solutions to challenges facing European citizens and society in the following areas: Adaptation to Climate Change, including Societal Transformation; Cancer; Healthy Oceans, Seas, Coastal and Inland Waters; Climate-neutral and Smart Cities; Soil Health and Food. 
Although not fully new, Horizon Europe is also introducing partnerships. All current partnerships will end and some 48 new partnerships of different types will start between 2021 and 2027.

On the 2nd of March, Pim de Boer (VU and Amsterdam UMC EU liaison officer in Brussels) organized a meeting with VU colleagues (including Professor Ehren) and colleagues from the University of Duisburg-Essen and the European Commission’s DG research and innovation to discuss the role of ‘social sciences and humanities’ (SSH) in pillar 2 of Horizon Europe. Below are some highlights from the discussion.

Horizon Europe aims to have a dual approach in incorporating SSH. This means that SSH will have a dedicated programme of work under (particularly) the second cluster (culture, creativity and inclusive society) and third cluster (civil security for society) in pillar 2, but also aims to ‘mainstream’ SSH across all other clusters in pillar 2. Mainstreaming means that the social sciences and humanities need to be incorporated in addressing the challenges in all other clusters, particularly in how research is designed (e.g. through citizen/user engagement in deciding on research questions and design), as well as in ensuring societal impact. Such impact needs to be measured and examples of how to do so have been published in the ‘pathways to SSH impact document:
We discussed various examples of how SSH can be embedded and mainstreamed across the clusters where ‘action research’, ‘living labs’, ‘stakeholder involvement’ were good practices that were mentioned addressing e.g. behaviour, desinformation and governance aspects.