Horizon Europe: start of world's largest research and innovation programme

Austrian government members and the responsible EU Commissioner discussed the EU's new research and innovation programme, Horizon Europe.

"With EUR 95.5 billion in funding over seven years, Horizon Europe is the largest transnational research and innovation programme in the world, and an important signal at the right time. The new EU programme covers the entire innovation cycle, from basic research to innovation and market launch. It continues the EU's successful history of research and innovation programmes," explained Science Minister Heinz Faßmann. "With over EUR 1.65 billion in returns from the recently concluded Horizon 2020 programme, and around 2,700 funded projects with national involvement, Austria is a net recipient," explained Faßmann, officially launching Horizon Europe. On Monday the Minister invited top officials to discuss the political, societal and economic goals and expectations for the new EU programme.


"Research, technology and innovation are important stimuli for creating a positive and environmentally-friendly future. The focus lies on key issues, namely climate protection, environmental protection, sustainable mobility, clean energy, and a climate-friendly economy," stressed Climate Protection Minister Leonore Gewessler. It is important that national measures are coordinated with EU programmes. "The EU research programmes make a considerable contribution to financing research and innovation, and offer many solutions for managing societal challenges, whether battling the coronavirus pandemic or overcoming the climate crisis, as well as achieving technological sovereignty," said Gewessler.

"The coronavirus crisis has made one thing clear: research and innovation have the power to change our lives. The spirit of invention demonstrated by Austrian scientists and enterprises is the greatest lever we have to ensure our long-term success as a business location," stressed Economy Minister Margarete Schramböck. "My goal is to strengthen Austria's position as a research location even further, because two-thirds of our prosperity and European jobs are the result of research and innovation. Austrian businesses have always been European champions when it comes to Horizon 2020. I am convinced that Horizon Europe will also serve to encourage innovation. The fields of health and pharmaceuticals, as well as emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, robotics or photonics, play a huge role in ensuring our economic competitiveness and generating jobs in Austria," said Schramböck.

"National defence will benefit from the European Defence Fund. This fund will provide financial support amounting to EUR 7.9 billion through to 2027 for projects related to NBC defence, digitalisation, cyber defence, satellite navigation, information technology, and hybrid drive and battery technologies. This is also the first time that the EU has made funding available for the defence sector," said Defence Minister Klaudia Tanner. "This will benefit not only the military sector. The national defence research projects will be run in cooperation with other institutions, major companies, and SMEs, securing jobs and enabling us to act independently in times of crisis."

Due to the significance of this programme, in addition to the EUR 90.1 billion earmarked in the multiannual financial framework (MFF, EU budget), an extra EUR 5.4 billion will be made available from the EU's Next Generation EU recovery instrument.  With a total budget of EUR 95.5 billion, the new Horizon Europe programme now has 30 percent more funding than its predecessor Horizon 2020. The first major Calls are scheduled to open in April and May 2021.

The Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG) is providing a wide range of services designed to support participation by organisations in Austria. "We want to once again achieve an above average success rate for Austrian participants in Horizon Europe, and provide our research community with the best possible support and advice. We take care to ensure that national measures are designed to align with EU programmes," explained the two FFG Managing Directors, Henrietta Egerth and Klaus Pseiner. Since the start of the year, an online campaign run by the FFG has informed more than 5,000 interested members of the research community about the various funding options and new features of the new EU programme. The information campaign concluded with an online discussion with the responsible politicians on 22 March, simultaneously marking the start for local research institutions and companies to implement their ideas with the aid of EU funding.