Ready at the starting line for Horizon 2020

It is expected that in December the first applications can be submitted for the new EU research programme Horizon 2020, the successor to FP7. Researchers can start preparing themselves now through information meetings and training sessions.    

From FP7 to Horizon 2020

With Horizon 2020 the EU is making 70 billion euros available for research and innovation for the next seven years. As with FP7 (Seventh Framework Programme, called KP7 in Dutch), the goal of Horizon 2020 is to make Europe economically strong and competitive. To kill two birds with one stone, the programmme is concentrating on social issues that affect European citizens.
In Brussels, civil servants are working overtime to finalise the content of this programme and the rules that will govern it. Additionally, a participant portal is being set up where starting in December all necessary information can be found and where applications can be submitted electronically. It is as yet not entirely clear whether all research areas will be open for applications starting straight away in December.

New structure

Some aspects will be changing in Horizon 2020, while others will remain the same. Every researcher knows the ERC grants, the Marie Curie fellowships and the FP7 collaborative projects. These will continue to be available. What’s new is the structure. Horizon 2020 is organised around three pillars.

  • Pillar I: Excellence  
  • Pillar II: Industrial leadership 
  • Pillar III: Societal challenges

Excellence includes the ERC, Marie Curie and the FET programmes for pioneering ideas. FET stands for Future and Emerging Technologies. The industrial leadership and societal challenges pillars include the work programmes for various industrial and social issues. Each pillar has its own approach with specific requirements for applications.

Influencing Horizon 2020

The League of European Research Universities (LERU), in which 21 European research universities have united to make their case to the EU for (basic) research, has been exerting influence on Horizon 2020 for two years by providing comments. These comments can be about the format (rules for participation, project evaluation or even something as mundane as user the friendliness of an application form) or about content.

The LERU working group strove for a separate, unintegrated budget for SSH (Social Science and Humanities) in pillar III. And succeeded. The separate budget materialised, and the working group received an invitation to continue providing input on draft versions of Horizon 2020. This working group was coordinated by Wim van den Doel, Dean of the Leiden Faculty of Humanities.


Although the content of the work programmes still changes daily, the basic form is now known and it is becoming clearer what the rules will be. Preparations are now also in full swing at Leiden University. Research and Development consultants (the R&D team) from the Leiden University Research and Innovation Services (LURIS) are doing a lot of preparatory work for Leiden researchers and research groups: they are looking closely at how research in Leiden connects with the various parts of Horizon 2020.  They then relay this information to the deans and the academic managers, who in turn inform their researchers and research coordinators. This does not mean “sit back and wait”.

Where do you begin?

To familiarise everyone at Leiden University with Horizon 2020, the LURIS R&D team is organising a range of extra activities that can be tailored to specific needs:

  • Information meetings at faculty or institute level on what Horizon 2020 has to offer. 
  • Information meeting How to get started with Horizon 2020: how do you find your way around Horizon 2020 and start a project?
  • Training session on How to write a competitive collaborative project proposal. Not only is the content important, so is the social impact and what party/parties will be implementing it.    

Additionally, Leiden University offers a training session for (policy) staff who want to understand the decision-making process in Brussels:

  • Europe 1.0

The LURIS R&D team

The LURIS R&D team consists for four consultants who have a great deal of experience with European grants. This team provides information about Horizon 2020 (and other grants), helps researchers determine their grant strategy, choose the right grant and find partners. The team also trains researchers in writing good grant proposals, and advises and assists administrators and policy advisers in influencing grant programmes.

(8 October 2013, Anke Klerkx, LURIS/CH)

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Last Modified: 21-10-2014