Horizon 2020 is the biggest EU Research and Innovation program ever with nearly €80 billion of funding available over 7 years (2014 to 2020) – in addition to the private investment that this money will attract. It promises more breakthroughs, discoveries and world-firsts by taking great ideas from the lab to the market.

It is the 8th framework program funding research, technological development, and innovation and is implemented by the European Commission.

The framework program's objective is to complete the European Research Area (ERA) by coordinating national research policies and pooling research funding in some areas to avoid duplication.

The program consists of 3 main research areas that are called "pillars".

The first pillar, "Excellent Science", focuses on basic science. This pillar funds future and emerging technologies (FET) and researcher mobility (Marie Sklodowska-Curie Action) and large European research infrastructures.

The second pillar is "Industrial Leadership". It is managed by DG Enterprise and based on Europe 2020 and Innovation Union strategies. The pillar consists of six sub-programs within "Leadership in Enabling and Industrial Technologies":

  • Information and communication technologies
  • Nanotechnologies
  • Advanced materials
  • Advanced manufacturing and processing
  • Biotechnology
  • Space


This pillar contains special efforts to SME funding and gives also risk financing, e.g. through loans of the European Investment Bank.

The third pillar funds potential solutions to social and economic problems, "Societal challenges" (SC), in the following seven sub-programs:

  • Health
  • Food, water, forestry, bioeconomy
  • Energy
  • Transport
  • Climate action, environment, resource efficiency, and raw materials
  • European society
  • Security

This pillar also funds themes names as "Science with and for society" and "Spreading excellence and widening participation".
More information can be found at https://ec.europa.eu/programmes/horizon2020/