EU Funding for Research and Innovation 2021-2027


Investing in research and innovation is investing in Europe’s future. It helps us to compete globally and preserve our unique social model. It improves the daily lives of millions of people here in Europe and around the world, helping to solve some of our biggest societal challenges. Building  on  the  achievements  and  success  of  the  EU’s  past  flagship  research  and  innovation  programmes,  the  Commission  proposes  a  budget  of  €100  billion  for  2021-2027  for  Horizon  Europe  and  the  Euratom  Research  and  Training Programme.


Horizon Europe is proposed as the most ambitious research and innovation funding programme ever. It will continue to drive Europe’s scientific excellence through the European Research Council and the Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellowships and exchanges and draw on the scientific advice, technical support and dedicated research of the Joint Research Centre (JRC). And it will add a new level of ambition and boost the scientific, economic and societal impact of EU funding.

  • Strengthen EU science and technology thanks to increased investment in highly skilled people and cutting-edge research;
  • Foster the EU’s industrial competitiveness and its innovation performance, notably supporting market-creating innovation via the European Innovation Council and the European Institute of Innovation and Technology;
  • Deliver on the EU’s strategic priorities, such as the Paris Agreement on climate change, and tackle global challenges that affect the quality of our daily lives.


  • The European Innovation Council: one-stop shop to bring the most promising ideas from lab to real world application and support the most innovative start-ups and companies to scale up their ideas. It will provide direct support to innovators through two main funding instruments, one for early stages and the other for development and market deployment.
  • EU-wide R&I missions: ambitious, bold goals to tackle issues that affect our daily lives. Examples could range from the fight against cancer, to clean transport or plastic-free oceans. They will be co-designed with citizens, stakeholders, the European Parliament and Member States.
  • Open Science will become the modus operandi of Horizon Europe. It will go beyond the open access policy of Horizon 2020 and require open access to publications, data, and to research data management plans.
  • A new generation of European Partnerships: Horizon Europe will streamline the number of partnerships that the EU co-programmes or co-funds with partners like industry, civil society and funding foundations.
  • Simpler rules: This will increase legal certainty and reduce administrative burden for beneficiaries and programme administrators.


  • The proposed budget allocation of €100 billion for 2021-2027 includes €97.6 bn under Horizon Europe (€3.5 bn of which will be allocated under the InvestEU Fund) and €2.4bn for the Euratom Research and Training Programme. The innovation window of InvestEU will allow using loans, guarantees, equity and other market-based instruments to mobilise public and private investment in research and innovation. The Euratom programme, which funds research and training on nuclear safety, security and radiation protection, will have an increased focus on non-power applications such as healthcare and medical equipment. The future Euratom programme will also support the mobility of nuclear researchers under Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions.


The new programme will be implemented through three pillars:

  • The Open Science pillar (€25.8 billion) supports frontier research projects defined and driven by researchers themselves through the European Research Council (€16.6 billion), funds fellowships and exchanges for researchers through Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (€6.8 billion), and invests in world-class research infrastructures.
  • The Global Challenges and Industrial Competitiveness pillar (€52.7 billion) directly supports research relating to societal challenges, reinforces technological and industrial capacities, and sets EU-wide missions with ambitious goals tackling some of our biggest problems. It also includes activities pursued by the Joint Research Centre (€2.2 billion) which supports EU and national policymakers with independent scientific evidence and technical support.
  • The Open Innovation pillar (€13.5 billion) aims to make Europe a frontrunner in market-creating innovation via the European Innovation Council (€10 billion). It will help develop the overall European innovation landscape, including by further strengthening the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) to foster the integration of business, research, higher education and entrepreneurship (€3 billion).
  • Horizon Europe will double the “sharing excellence” support to EU Member States in their efforts to make the most of their national research and innovation potential.


  • Continued principle of a single set of rules with further improvements
  • Stable funding rates
  • Further simplification of funding model
  • Increased use of simplified forms of grants where appropriate (including lump sums)
  • More dissemination and exploitation of research results


  • Horizon Europe and the Euratom Research and Training Programme will promote effective and operational synergies with other future EU programmes and policies to promote faster dissemination at national and regional level and uptake of research and innovation results, including
  • EU Cohesion Policy, which plays an important part of in EU funding for Research & Innovation through an increased focus on innovation and Smart Specialisation strategies. The “Seal of Excellence” allows projects successfully evaluated under Horizon Europe to be funded at regional level under the European Structural and Investment Funds
  • The new European Defence Fund (€13 billion, €4.1 billion of which will be devoted to defence research) which will boost Europe’s ability to protect and defend its citizens. It will offer EU funded grants for collaborative projects which address emerging and future defence and security threats and bridge technological gaps.
  • ITER, the international fusion energy project (€6.1 billion), a first-of-a-kind, long-term project to build and operate a reactor to test the feasibility of fusion as an energy source.
  • Digital Europe Programme (€9.2 billion) will boost frontline investments in high-performance computing and data, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and advanced digital skills.
  • Connecting Europe Facility Digital (€3 billion) will support the Digital Single Market by offering basic capabilities that can be reused in any European project to facilitate the delivery of digital public services across borders and sectors.


The Horizon.Benefin team does not expect significant changes to the format of SME Instruments. We advise all of our existing and potential clients to start preparing early so that enough time is dedicated to the depth and breadth of the proposal. For further information contact us at horizon@benefin.eu

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