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The Cambridge Strategic Research Initiative for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

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Horizon 2020 Work Programme (2018 - 2020) includes focus areas for addressing ‘big ticket' challenges

last modified Nov 01, 2017 08:49 AM
The European Commission has presented the final Work Programme for Horizon 2020, which includes the novelty of four focus areas that are expected to create an exceptional impact, addressing ‘big ticket' challenges.

H2020Spanning seven years (2014 - 2020) and with a budget of €77 billion, Horizon 2020 is the biggest EU research and innovation funding programme ever. 

The 2018-2020 Work Programme builds on the success of Horizon 2020 and takes account of the extensive interim evaluation of the programme. The Work Programme also responds to the European Commission's political priorities and paves the way for its successor programme. The new features include measures to support market-creating innovation, highly integrated activities called focus areas, emphasis on better dissemination of results and a focus on open access to data. The Work Programme also includes measures to increase simplification (e.g. lump sum funding), to widen participation from under-performing countries, and to address skills mismatches.

More specifically, the novelty in this work programme are the four mutually reinforcing Focus Areas that cut across the programme boundaries and are aligned to major policy priorities. These focus areas are 'virtual calls' that cut across several parts of the Work Programme and that are endowed with a substantial budget. Focus areas are expected to create an exceptional impact, addressing ‘big ticket' challenges: 

  • 'Building a low Carbon, Climate-resilient Future' (budget of €3.3 billion), will align R&I investments with the climate change objectives of the Paris Climate Agreementas well as with the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).The focus area will support the development of solutions to achieve carbon neutrality and climate resilience by the second half of the century. As part of this focus area, R&I actions will support Europe's implementation of the Energy Union. Over €2 billion will be invested in the four strategic priorities identified in the Accelerating Clean Energy Innovation Communication, namely renewables, energy efficiency in buildings, electro-mobility and energy storage solutions. The energy storage solutions will have an emphasis on the next generation of batteries (budget €200 million), which will play an essential role in the transformation of our society towards less dependency on fossil fuels and radical reduction of emissions.
  • 'Connecting economic and environmental gains – the Circular Economy' (budget of €941 million) will support the Commission's ambitious Circular Economy package. Through R&I actions a strong contribution will be made to sustainable development goals, climate action, resource efficiency, jobs and growth and industrial competitiveness.
  • 'Digitising and transforming European industry and services' (budget of €1.7 billion)will address the combination of digital technologies (5G, high-performance computing, artificial intelligence, robotics, big data, Internet of Things, etc.) with innovations in other technological areas, as emphasised in the Digital Single Market strategy. This field offers huge opportunities for increasing industrial competitiveness, to create growth and jobs and to address societal challenges such as personalised medical treatments, more secure and efficient mobility, food security and sustainable use of natural resources, cleaner energy and security. In addition, a particular emphasis will be put on cybersecurity and on addressing the societal impact of the digital transformation.
  • 'Boosting the effectiveness of the Security Union' (budget of €1 billion), will support the implementation of Security Union priorities such as preventing and fighting serious crime including terrorism, improving border security and protecting infrastructure against threats, including cyber-attacks. Research on security threats, in particular terrorism, cybercrime, natural and man-made disasters and hybrid threats, will underpin an innovative, effective and coordinated EU response to mitigate risks and their potential impact on European society. Horizon 2020 represents 50% of overall public funding for security research in the EU.
  • Migration is a political priority which will receive dedicated support through the Work Programme. Although not defined as a focus area (the financial contribution comes from a single part of the Work Programme), more than €200 million will support research on issues such as the root causes of irregular migration, migration management and integration of migrants in host societies. The results will feed into the implementation of the European Agenda on Migration.

Together these Focus Areas give a combined budget of over €7 billion EURO (2018-2020). 


The vast majority of this funding is allocated on the basis of competitive calls which are open to applications from researchers, businesses and other interested organisations located in any of the EU Member States or countries associated to Horizon 2020. Organisations from third countries can also participate in the projects, subject to certain conditions. All funding opportunities and related information is available on a single portal - accessible here.

For further details, please see the source article here.

The Global Challenges Initiative is a Strategic Research Initiative of the University of Cambridge that aims to enhance the contribution of its research towards addressing global challenges and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.


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