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After a long long wait, work on the new Horizon Europe work-programmes has finally started. Like always, the scope is huge and the documentation dizzying. So, we’ll have a bit of a closer look at what makes Horizon Europe special – or not for that matter. If you are fishing for green calls, you can get some of Irene’s insight on how to wiggle your way through to them here.

Same Old, Same Old

Some things stay the same because they seem to make sense. Let us fill you in: The general structure of Horizon Europe still consists of three pillars. Their focus differs from Horizon 2020 though. This time around, we focus on “Excellent Science”, “Global Challenges and European Industrial Competitiveness” as well as an “Innovative Europe”.

Like before, the pillars and their wide ideas consist of smaller subjects again. Formerly called “Challenges”, we talk of them as “Clusters” in Horizon Europe. These 6 clusters offer specific topics under different “Destinations” to interested researchers and companies to work on. Just as the title says, “same old, same old”.

What’s new then, you ask?

Bigger Missions

The European Council has come up with “Missions”, embedded in the clusters, to drive major European achievements. We are talking here about goals that can change the way the world works right now for the better. We are talking here about fighting cancer, adapting to the imminent climate change, making for healthy water bodies, developing climate-neutral smart cities and ensuring healthy soil and providing food. And yes, nobody can manage any of this in only one project. Missions are larger than life, but the idea is that there will be plenty of people doing their part. That is not only meant to be awe-inspiring but could work.

An Attempt at Simplifying Partnerships

The first look seems promising to somebody who doesn’t know. The more than 120 different partnerships that we had to get used to in Horizon 2020 have been cut down to less than 50. But if you know what partnerships are, you know this doesn’t make it much better. If you have never heard of partnerships, let me tell you: That doesn’t make it much better. Partnerships are a way for the European Union to co-fund and organize grants together with private or public players. They each have their own budget that they can distribute independently. That means they may come with their own set of rules and requirements.  We will take it though considering, that cutting complexity down to about a third is a huge task for a political body like the European Union.

And More…

Submission Documents and Process

The general forms to fill are still organized under Part A and Part B, so much is clear. But, what information goes into which part and to what extend has seen a small evolution. Part A includes extra information, for example, information on the partners and researchers. Gender equality, ethics and security have found their way into this part. On top of that, there are several changes in Part B and Annexes, including pathways, gender equality, societal effects, open science and more. What’s more, everything must be even more concise now, with new page limits and stricter rules on allowed annexes.

Post-Pilot EIC

With the pilot phase of the EIC over, the real deal has launched parallel with Horizon Europe. While the idea of free-for-all bottom-up calls remains, the EIC calls for proposals for top-down calls under “EIC Accelerator Challenges” this time. Additionally, the evaluation procedures changed, and measures have been installed to improve support and decrease the resubmission rate.

Open Science Policy

Compared to Horizon 2020 implementation of the Open Science Policy has been extended throughout. The idea is to further improve the quality and responsiveness of the European research landscape by sharing research output as early on as possible.

Higher Budget

Overall, the budget of Horizon Europe has increased from about 77 billion in Horizon 2020 to 95.5 billion. Out of this, the budget for Pillar 1 is pretty much what it was before. Yet only the extended Pillar 2, with its Missions and Global Challenges, has a budget of around 50 billion.

There sure are some notable changes in the list for the next few years. Some make your life easier, some don’t.

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