Horizon Europe

Horizon Europe – the Framework Programme for Research and Innovation

Programme objectives

The general objective of the Programme is to deliver scientific, technological, economic and societal impact from the Union’s investments in R&I so as to strengthen the scientific and technological bases of the Union and foster the competitiveness of the Union in all Member States including in its industry, to deliver on the Union strategic priorities and to contribute to the realisation of Union objectives and policies, to tackle global challenges, including the SDGs by following the principles of the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement, and to strengthen the ERA. The Programme shall thus maximise Union added value by focusing on objectives and activities that cannot be effectively realised by Member States acting alone, but in cooperation.
The Programme has the following specific objectives:
(a)to develop, promote and advance scientific excellence, to support the creation and diffusion of high-quality new fundamental and applied knowledge, of skills, technologies and solutions, to support training and mobility of researchers, to attract talent at all levels and contribute to the full engagement of the Union’s talent pool in actions supported under the Programme;
(b)to generate knowledge, strengthen the impact of R&I in developing, supporting and implementing Union policies and support the access to and uptake of innovative solutions in European industry, in particular SMEs, and in society to address global challenges, including climate change and the SDGs;
(c)to foster all forms of innovation, facilitate technological development, demonstration and knowledge and technology transfer, strengthen deployment and exploitation of innovative solutions;
(d)to optimise the Programme’s delivery with a view to strengthening and increasing the impact and attractiveness of the ERA, to foster excellence-based participation from all Member States, including low R&I performing countries, in the Programme and to facilitate collaborative links in European R&I.

Programme structure

(a) Pillar I ‘Excellent Science’, with the following components:
(i)the ERC;
(ii)Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA);
(iii)research infrastructures;

(b) Pillar II ‘Global Challenges and European Industrial Competitiveness’, with the following components, taking into account that SSH play an important role across all clusters:
(i)cluster ‘Health’;
(ii)cluster ‘Culture, Creativity and Inclusive Society’;
(iii)cluster ‘Civil Security for Society’;
(iv)cluster ‘Digital, Industry and Space’;
(v)cluster ‘Climate, Energy and Mobility’;
(vi)cluster ‘Food, Bioeconomy, Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environment’;
(vii)non-nuclear direct actions of the JRC;

(c)Pillar III ‘Innovative Europe’, with the following components:
(i)the EIC;
(ii)European innovation ecosystems;
(iii)the EIT;

(d)Part ‘Widening Participation and Strengthening the ERA’, with the following components:
(i)widening participation and spreading excellence;
(ii)reforming and enhancing the European R&I System.


Pillar I ‘Excellent Science’
Through the following activities, this pillar shall, in line with Article 4, promote scientific excellence, attract the best talent to Europe, provide appropriate support to early-stage researchers and support the creation and diffusion of scientific excellence, high-quality knowledge, methodologies and skills, technologies and solutions to global social, environmental and economic challenges. It shall also contribute to the other specific objectives of the Programme as referred to in Article 3.
(a)ERC: providing attractive and flexible funding to enable talented and creative individual researchers, with an emphasis on early stage researchers, and their teams to pursue the most promising avenues at the frontier of science, regardless of their nationality and country of origin and on the basis of Union-wide competition based solely on the criterion of excellence.
Area of intervention: Frontier science.
(b)MSCA: equipping researchers with new knowledge and skills through mobility and exposure across borders, sectors and disciplines, enhancing training and career development systems as well as structuring and improving institutional and national recruitment, taking into account the European Charter for Researchers and the Code of Conduct for the recruitment of researchers; in so doing, the MSCA help to lay the foundations of Europe’s excellent research landscape across the whole of Europe, contributing to boosting jobs, growth, and investment, and solving current and future societal challenges.
Areas of intervention: nurturing excellence through the mobility of researchers across borders, sectors and disciplines; fostering new skills through the excellent training of researchers; strengthening human resources and skills development across the ERA; improving and facilitating synergies; promoting public outreach.
(c)Research infrastructures: endowing Europe with world-class sustainable research infrastructures which are open and accessible to the best researchers from Europe and beyond. Encouraging the use of existing research infrastructures, including those financed from funds under Union Cohesion Policy. In so doing, enhancing the potential of the research infrastructure to support scientific advance and innovation, and to enable open and excellent science in accordance with the FAIR principles, alongside activities related to Union policies and international cooperation.
Areas of intervention: consolidating and developing the landscape of European research infrastructures; opening, integrating and interconnecting research infrastructures; the innovation potential of European research infrastructures and activities for innovation and training; reinforcing European research infrastructure policy and international cooperation.

Pillar II ‘Global Challenges and European Industrial Competitiveness’
Through the following activities, this pillar shall, in line with Article 4, support the creation and better diffusion of high-quality new knowledge, technologies and sustainable solutions, reinforce the European industrial competitiveness, strengthen the impact of R&I in developing, supporting and implementing Union policies, and support the uptake of innovative solutions in industry, in particular in SMEs and start-ups, and society to address global challenges. It shall also contribute to the other specific objectives of the Programme as referred to in Article 3.
SSH shall be fully integrated across all clusters, including specific and dedicated activities. To maximise impact, flexibility and synergies, R&I activities shall be organised in six clusters, interconnected through pan-European research infrastructures, which individually and together incentivise interdisciplinary, cross-sectoral, cross-policy, cross-border and international cooperation. Pillar II of the Programme shall cover activities from a broad range of TRLs, including lower TRLs.
Each cluster contributes towards several SDGs and many SDGs are supported by more than one cluster.The R&I activities shall be implemented in and across the following clusters:
(a)Cluster ‘Health’: improving and protecting the health and well-being of citizens of all ages by generating new knowledge, developing innovative solutions, ensuring to integrate, where relevant, a gender perspective to prevent, diagnose, monitor, treat and cure diseases, and developing health technologies; mitigating health risks; protecting populations and promoting good health and well-being, also in the work place; making public health systems more cost-effective, equitable and sustainable; preventing and tackling poverty-related diseases; and supporting and enabling patients’ participation and self-management.
Areas of intervention: health throughout the life course; environmental and social health determinants; non-communicable and rare diseases; infectious diseases, including poverty-related and neglected diseases; tools, technologies and digital solutions for health and care, including personalised medicine; health care systems.
(b)Cluster ‘Culture, Creativity and Inclusive Society’: strengthening democratic values, including rule of law and fundamental rights; safeguarding our cultural heritage; exploring the potential of cultural and creative sectors, and promoting socio-economic transformations that contribute to inclusion and growth, including migration management and integration of migrants.
Areas of intervention: democracy and governance; culture, cultural heritage and creativity; social and economic transformations.
(c)Cluster ‘Civil Security for Society’: responding to the challenges arising from persistent security threats, including cybercrime, as well as natural and man-made disasters.
Areas of intervention: disaster-resilient societies; protection and security; cybersecurity.
(d)Cluster ‘Digital, Industry and Space’: reinforcing capacities and securing Europe’s sovereignty in key enabling technologies for digitisation and production, and in space technology, all along the value chain; to build a competitive, digital, low-carbon and circular industry; ensure a sustainable supply of raw materials; develop advanced materials and provide the basis for advances and innovation in global societal challenges.
Areas of intervention: manufacturing technologies; key digital technologies, including quantum technologies; emerging enabling technologies; advanced materials; artificial intelligence and robotics; next generation internet; advanced computing and Big Data; circular industries; low carbon and clean industries; space, including earth observation.
(e)Cluster ‘Climate, Energy and Mobility’: fighting climate change by better understanding its causes, evolution, risks, impacts and opportunities, by making the energy and transport sectors more climate and environment-friendly, more efficient and competitive, smarter, safer and more resilient, promote the use of renewable energy sources and energy efficiency, improve the resilience of the Union to external shocks and adapt social behaviour in view of the SDGs.
Areas of intervention: climate science and solutions; energy supply; energy systems and grids; buildings and industrial facilities in energy transition; communities and cities; industrial competitiveness in transport; clean, safe and accessible transport and mobility; smart mobility; energy storage.
(f)Cluster ‘Food, Bioeconomy, Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environment’: protecting the environment, restoring, sustainably managing and using natural and biological resources from land, inland waters and sea to stop biodiversity erosion, to address food and nutrition security for all and the transition to a low carbon, resource efficient and circular economy and sustainable bioeconomy.
Areas of intervention: environmental observation; biodiversity and natural resources; agriculture, forestry and rural areas; seas, oceans and inland waters; food systems; bio-based innovation systems in the Union’s bioeconomy; circular systems.
(g)Non-nuclear direct actions of the JRC: generating high-quality scientific evidence for efficient and affordable good public policies. New initiatives and proposals for Union legal acts need transparent, comprehensive and balanced evidence to be sensibly designed, whereas implementation of policies needs evidence to be measured and monitored. The JRC provides Union policies with independent scientific evidence and technical support throughout the policy cycle. The JRC focuses its research on Union policy priorities.
Areas of intervention: strengthening the knowledge base for policy making; global challenges (health; culture, creativity and inclusive society; civil security for society; digital, industry and space; climate, energy and mobility; food, bioeconomy, natural resources, agriculture and environment); innovation, economic development, and competitiveness; scientific excellence; territorial development and support for Member States and regions.

Pillar III ‘Innovative Europe’
Through the following activities, this pillar shall, in line with Article 4, foster all forms of innovation, including non-technological innovation, primarily within SMEs including start-ups, by facilitating technological development, demonstration and knowledge transfer, and strengthen deployment of innovative solutions. It shall also contribute to the other specific objectives of the Programme as referred to in Article 3. The EIC shall be implemented primarily through two instruments, the Pathfinder, implemented mainly through collaborative research, and the Accelerator.
(a)EIC: focusing mainly on breakthrough and disruptive innovation, targeting especially market-creating innovation, while also supporting all types of innovation, including incremental innovation.
Areas of intervention: Pathfinder for advanced research, supporting future and emerging breakthrough, market-creating and/or deep tech technologies; the Accelerator, bridging the financing gap between late stages of R&I activities and market take-up, to effectively deploy breakthrough, market-creating innovation and scale up companies where the market does not provide viable financing; additional EIC activities such as prizes and fellowships, and business added-value services.
(b)European innovation ecosystems
Areas of intervention: activities including in particular connecting, where relevant in cooperation with the EIT, with national and regional innovation actors and supporting the implementation of joint cross-border innovation programmes by Member States, Regions and associated countries, from the exchange of practice and knowledge on innovation regulation to the enhancement of soft skills for innovation to research and innovation activities, including open or user-led innovation, to boost the effectiveness of the European innovation system. This should be implemented in synergy with, among others, the ERDF support for innovation eco-systems and interregional partnerships around smart specialisation topics.
(c)The European Institute of Innovation and Technology
Areas of intervention (defined in Annex II): sustainable innovation ecosystems across Europe; innovation and entrepreneurial skills in a lifelong learning perspective, including increasing capacities of higher education institutions across Europe; new solutions to market to address global challenges; synergies and value added within the Programme.

(4) Part ‘Widening Participation and Strengthening the ERA’
Through the following activities, this part shall pursue the specific objectives as set out in point (d) of Article 3(2). It shall also contribute to the other specific objectives of the Programme as referred to in Article 3. While underpinning the entire Programme, this part shall support activities that contribute to attracting talent, fostering brain circulation and preventing brain drain, a more knowledge-based and innovative and gender-equal Europe, at the front edge of global competition, fostering transnational cooperation and thereby optimising national strengths and potential across the whole Europe in a well-performing ERA, where knowledge and a highly skilled workforce circulate freely in a balanced manner, where the results of R&I are widely disseminated to as well as understood and trusted by informed citizens and benefit society as a whole, and where Union policy, in particular R&I policy, is based on high quality scientific evidence.
This Part shall also support activities aimed at improving the quality of proposals from legal entities from low R&I performing countries, such as professional pre-proposal checks and advice, and boosting the activities of National Contact Points to support international networking, as well as activities aimed at supporting legal entities from low R&I performing countries joining already selected collaborative projects in which legal entities from such countries are not participating.
Areas of intervention: widening participation and spreading excellence, including through teaming, twinning, ERA-Chairs, European Cooperation in Science and Technology (COST), excellence initiatives and activities to foster brain circulation; reforming and enhancing the European R&I system, including through for example supporting national R&I policy reform, providing attractive career environments, and supporting gender and citizen science.

The operational objectives

(a)to strengthen excellent basic and frontier research; to reinforce and spread excellence, including by fostering wider participation throughout the Union;
(b)to reinforce the link between research, innovation, and, where appropriate, education and other policies, including complementarities with national, regional and Union R&I policies and activities;
(c)to support the implementation of Union policy priorities including in particular the SDGs and the Paris Agreement;
(d)to promote responsible R&I, taking into account the precautionary principle;
(e)to strengthen the gender dimension across the Specific Programme;
(f)to increase collaboration links in European R&I and across sectors and disciplines, including social sciences and humanities (SSH);
(g)to strengthen international cooperation;
(h)to connect to and develop research infrastructures across the European Research Area (ERA) and to provide transnational access;
(i)to attract talent, to train and retain researchers and innovators in the ERA, including through mobility;
(j)to foster open science and ensure visibility to the public and open access to scientific publications and research data, including appropriate exceptions;
(k)to encourage exploitation of R&I results and actively disseminate and exploit results, in particular for leveraging private investments and policy development;
(l)to deliver, through R&I missions, on ambitious goals within a set timeframe;
(m)to improve the relationship and interaction between science and society, including the visibility of science in society and science communication, and to promote the involvement of citizens and end-users in co-design and co-creation processes;
(n)to accelerate industrial transformation, including through improved skills for innovation;
(o)to stimulate R&I activities in SMEs and the creation and scale-up of innovative companies, in particular start-ups, SMEs, and in exceptional cases small mid-caps;
(p)to improve access to risk finance, including through synergies with the InvestEU Programme established by Regulation (EU) 2021/523 of the European Parliament and of the Council (11), in particular where the market does not provide viable financing.



Health throughout the Life Course
Broad Lines

  • Understanding the early development and the aging process throughout the life course;
  • Pre-natal and neo-natal, maternal, paternal, infant and child health, as well as the role of parents, family and educators;
  • Health needs of adolescents, including factors influencing mental health;
  • Health consequences of disabilities and injuries;
  • Research on measures to plan, implement and monitor rehabilitation throughout the life course and especially early individual rehabilitation programmes (EIRP) for children affected by disabling pathologies;
  • Healthy ageing, independent and active life, including social participation for elderly people and people with disabilities;
  • Health education and health literacy, including digital.

Environmental and Social Health Determinants
Broad Lines

  • Technologies and methodologies for assessing the hazards, exposure and health impact of chemicals, indoor and outdoor pollutants and other stressors related to climate change, workplace, lifestyle or the environment and of the combined effects of several stressors;
  • Environmental, occupational, socioeconomic, cultural, genetic and behavioural factors impacting physical and mental health and well-being of people and their interaction, with special attention to vulnerable and disadvantaged people, age-specific and gender-specific issues where relevant, and including the impact on health of the design of buildings, products and services;
  • Risk assessment, management and communication, supported by transdisciplinary approaches, where relevant, and improved tools for evidence-based decision-making, including replacement of and alternatives to animal testing;
  • Capacity and infrastructures to securely collect, share, use, re-use and combine data on all health determinants, including human exposure, and to ensure their connection with databases on environmental parameters, lifestyles, health status and diseases, at Union and international level;
  • Health promotion and primary prevention interventions, including occupational aspects.

Non-Communicable and Rare Diseases
Broad Lines

  • Understanding the mechanisms underlying the development of non-communicable diseases, including cardiovascular diseases;
  • Longitudinal population studies to support understanding health and disease parameters and help stratifying populations in support of the development of preventive medicine;
  • Diagnostic tools and techniques for earlier and more accurate diagnosis and for timely patient-adapted treatment, enabling delay or reversal of the progression of disease;
  • Prevention and screening programmes, in accordance with or going beyond WHO, UN and Union recommendations;
  • Integrated solutions for self-monitoring, health promotion, disease prevention and management of chronic conditions and multi-morbidities, including neurodegenerative and cardiovascular diseases;
  • Treatments, cures or other therapeutic interventions, including both pharmacological and non-pharmacological treatments;
  • Palliative care;
  • Areas of high unmet clinical need such as rare diseases, including paediatric cancers;
  • Assessment of comparative effectiveness of interventions and solutions, including based on real-world data;
  • Implementation research to scale up health interventions and support their uptake in health policies and systems;
  • Development of research and improvement of information, care and treatment, including personalised medicine, for rare diseases.

Infectious Diseases, including poverty-related and neglected diseases
Broad Lines

  • Understanding infection-related mechanisms;
  • Drivers for the emergence or re-emergence of infectious diseases and their spread, including transmission from animals to humans (zoonosis), or from other parts of the environment (water, soil, plants, food) to humans, as well as the impact of climate change and of the evolution of ecosystems on the dynamics of infectious diseases;
  • Prediction, early and rapid detection, control and surveillance of infectious diseases, healthcare-associated infections and environmental related factors;
  • Combating antimicrobial resistance, including epidemiology, prevention and diagnosis, as well as the development of new antimicrobials and vaccines;
  • Vaccines, including vaccine platform technologies, diagnostics, treatments and cures for infectious diseases, including co-morbidities and co-infections;
  • Addressing low vaccine uptake, understanding vaccine hesitancy and building vaccine confidence;
  • Effective health emergency preparedness, response and recovery measures and strategies, involving communities, and their coordination at regional, national and Union level;
  • Barriers to the implementation and uptake of medical interventions in clinical practice as well as in the healthcare system;
  • Trans-border aspects of infectious diseases and specific challenges in low- and middle-income countries, such as AIDS, tuberculosis and tropical diseases, including malaria, but also challenges in relation to migratory flows, and in relation to increased human mobility in general.

Tools, Technologies and Digital Solutions for Health and Care, including personalised medicine
Broad Lines

  • Tools and technologies for applications across the health spectrum and any relevant medical indication, including functional impairment;
  • Integrated tools, technologies, medical devices, medical imaging, biotechnology, nanomedicine and advanced therapies (including cellular and gene therapy), and digital solutions for human health and care, including AI, mobile solutions and telehealth; at the same time addressing, where relevant, cost-efficiency production aspects at an early stage in order to optimise the industrialisation stage and the potential of innovation to become an affordable medicinal product;
  • Piloting, large-scale deployment, optimisation, and innovation procurement of health and care technologies and tools in real-life settings including clinical trials, implementation research including diagnostics based on personalised medicine;
  • Innovative processes and services for the development, manufacturing and rapid delivery of tools and technologies for health and care;
  • The safety, efficacy, cost-effectiveness, interoperability and quality of tools and technologies for health and care as well as their ethical, legal and social impact, including social acceptance issues;
  • Regulatory science and standards for health and care technologies and tools;
  • Health data management, including data interoperability, integration, analytical and visualisation methods, decision-making processes, building on AI, data mining, Big Data technologies, bioinformatics and high-performance computing technologies to foster personalised medicine including prevention, and to optimise the health journey.

Health Care Systems
Broad Lines
Supporting the knowledge base for reforms in health systems and policies in Europe and beyond;
New models and approaches for health and care, including personalised medicine approaches, management and organisational aspects, and their transferability or adaptation from one country or region to another;
Improving health technology assessment;
Evolution of health inequality and effective policy response;
Future health workforce and its needs, including digital skills;
Improving timely, reliable, safe and trustworthy health information and use or reuse of health data, including electronic health records, with due attention to data protection, including the misuse of personal life-style and health information, security, accessibility, interoperability, standards, comparability and integrity;
Resilience of health systems in absorbing the impact of crises and accommodating disruptive innovation;
Solutions for citizen and patient empowerment, self-monitoring and interaction with health and social care professionals, to enable more integrated care and a user-centred approach, while considering equal access;
Data, information, knowledge and best practice from health systems research at Union-level and globally, building on existing knowledge and databases.