Horizon 2020 structure and budget. Everything you need to know

The Horizon 2020 financial framework is Europe’s strongest way to bring innovation in the world of science and business. A large number of project proposals is being submitted on a yearly basis. All of those proposals aim to a certain amount from the total budget of the framework, to be implemented.

It is important, however, for researchers to know the structure of Horizon 2020 as well as the budget allocation for each of the framework’s sectors. In this article, we will attempt to give you the basic information needed, regarding the structure of Horizon 2020 as well as the budget of the framework.


Horizon 2020 is divided into 3 different pillars and 2 specific objectives, all of which correspond to the framework’s main priorities. Here are the pillars and objectives:

  1. Excellent Science
  2. Industrial Leadership
  3. Societal Challenges
  4. Specific objective ‘’Spreading excellence and widening participation’’

Breaking down the budget!


Excellence Science

World class science around Europe, is supported by the Excellence Science part of Horizon 2020. Action on developing, attracting and retaining research talent and supporting the development of the best research infrastructure are usually found under this pillar.

The total budget for 2014-2020:

European Research Council (ERC): 13.095 million euros

Future and emerging technologies: 2.696 million euros

Marie Sklodowska-Curie actions (MSCA): 6.162 million euros

Research infrastructures (including e-infrastructures): 2.488 million euros

Industrial Leadership

Key technologies that can shift the world of science and innovation are supported under this pillar. Technologies like for example, microelectronics and advanced manufacturing that form existing and emerging sectors. This sector also aims at attracting private investment into R&I and support the increase of innovative SMEs in Europe.

The total budget for 2014-2020:

Leadership in enabling and industrial technologies (LEITs) 13.557 million euros

Access to risk finance: 2.842 million euros

Innovation in SMEs: 616 million euros

Societal Challenges

This pillar supports R&I targeted to society and citizens. Some important matters that are addressed in this pillar are climate change, environmental changes, energy, and transport.

Proposals under this pillar should develop breakthrough solutions that will emerge from multi-disciplinary collaborations, including social sciences and humanities.

The total budget for 2014-2020:

Health, demographic changes and wellbeing: 7.472 million euros

Food, security, sustainable agriculture and forestry, marine/maritime/inland water research and the bioeconomy: 3.851 million euros

Secure, clean and efficient energy:  5.931 million euros

Smart, green and integrated transport: 6.339 million euros

Climate action, environment, resource efficiency, and raw materials: 3.081 million euros

Inclusive, innovative and reflective societies: 1.310 million euros

Secure societies: 1.695 million euros


The total budget for 2014-2020:

Specific Objective ‘’Spreading Excellence and Widening Participation’’: 816 million euro

Specific Objective ‘’Science with and for Society’’: 462 million euros

Other partnerships under Horizon 2020 funding

Joint Technology Initiatives (JTIs)

  1. Innovative Medicines Initiative 2 (IMI2)
  2. Clean Sky (Aeronautics) 2 (CS2)
  3. Fuel Cell and Hydrogen 2 (FCH2)
  4. Bio-based Industries (BBI)
  5. Electronic component and systems (ECSEL)
  6. Shift2Rail
  7. SESAR Joint Undertaking

Joint Programmes of Member States

  1. European and Development Countries Clinical Trials Partnerships (EDCTP) 2
  2. European Metrology Research Programme 2
  3. Eurostats (for SMEs)2
  4. Active and Assisted Living 2

These initiatives have their own separate calls. Any interested stakeholders can find some of them published on the Funding and Tenders Portal and some on their specific websites. By visiting the Other funding opportunities sector of the EU official website, you can find more information.

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Katerina Pouspourika
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