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Horizon Europe: The New EU Research and Innovation investment programme (2021-2027)

Horizon Europe (HEU) is the new EU programme for research and innovation, running from 2021 to 2027, which follows the framework programme Horizon 2020 (2014/2021).
The calls for the framework program for research and innovation Horizon EU are available on the European Commission portal "Funding & tenders opportunities
Below you can find a description of the HEU programme strucure with some information on its most important aspects and new elements introduced by the new programme.
 
Programme Structure

Horizon Europe Structure proposes again the one known in the previous Horizon 2020 programme on the Three Pillars

  1. PILLAR I - Excellent Science
    European Research Council: frontier research projects defined and driven by top researchers themselves
    Azioni Marie Skłodowska-Curie: fellowships for experienced researchers, doctoral training networks and exchanges for researchers
    Infrastrutture di ricerca: Integrated and inter-connected world-class research infrastructures
  2. PILLAR II - Global Challneges and European Industrial Competitiveness
    Health
    Culture, Creativity & Inclusive Society
    Civil Security for Society
    Digital, Industry & Space
    Climate, Energy & Mobility
    Food, Bioeconomy, Natural Resources, Agriculture & Environment
  3. PILLAR III - Innovative Europe
    European Innovation Council (EIC): Support to innovations with breakthrough and market creating potential
    European innovation ecosystems: improvement of the environment within which innovation can flourish at all levelse
    European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT): Bringing key actors (research, education and business) together around a common goal for nurturing innovation

Widening Participation and Strengthening the European Research Area
The line aimed at implementing measures in support of widening participation and strengthening the European research Area its trasversal to the three pillars
Trasversal are also the "Missions", one of the novelties of Horizon Europe, and new is also the approach to the european "Partnership".

How to Apply for fundings

Proposals are submitted in response to the calls for proposal published on the Funding & Tender opportunities portal (LINK). Schedule and main content of calls are presented in the Work Programmes (WP).

Structure and terminology of the Work Programme in Horizon Europe, are slightly different from those of Horizon 2020: within Pillar II, each Cluster is divided into different Destinations, i.e. the specific directions and ultimate point of arrival Horizon Europe aims to achieve and the set of strategic objectives within the EC policy priorities where R&I investments are expected to make a difference: Key Strategic Orientations (KSOs). Each Destination will be implemented by means of calls for proposals. Under each destination, one or more topics describe the expected outcomes and the scope of the research and innovation activities to be supported.
All the proposal need to be submitted electronically.
Once you know the Topic within which you want to submit your proposal and once created a consortium, where required according to the call for proposal directives, you need to logging in the «funding & tender opportunities» portal with your account (if you do not have one you need to create it). You will then be required to indicate the IMT PIC Number (Participant Identification Code).
The electronic submission system is an online wizard that guides you step-by-step through the preparation of your proposal. The proposal contains two parts: :

  • PART A: Amministrative information and budget + description of the partners, the role of each participating organization and information on ethics and security. A table of researchers involved in the project will also have to be filled in part A. 
  • PART B: proposal and technical description of the project. It consists of three sections, each corresponding to an evaluation criteria (Excellence, Impact, Implementation). Part B needs to be uploaded as a PDF document following the templates downloaded by the applicants in the submission system for the specific call or topic

The templates for a specific call may slightly differ depending on the programme and on the topic since calls within the different actions and topics can have specific participation requirements that you need to take into account carefully. 
The proposal can be changed until not definetely submitted. As long as the call is open, it is still possible to modify a proposal by simply submitting a new version.

Who can apply
Any legal entity, regardless of where it is established and including legal entities from non-associated third countries or international organizations, may participate in an action, provided that, except in duly justified cases, where the work program provides otherwise, they participate in a consortium comprising: a) at least one independent legal entity established in a Member State; and (b) at least two other independent legal entities, each established in different Member States or associated countries.
In any case, only legal entities established in a Member State or an associated country are eligible for funding, while legal entities established in a non-associated third country bear the costs of their participation, unless otherwise provided for in the call for applications.
Eligible costs
The financing: as it was already in Horizon 2020, given the legal nature of a non-profit organization, even in Horizon Europe the IMT School is entitled to 100% reimbursement of direct costs regardless the type of action.
Elibigle costs: 
  • Actually incurred by the beneficiary during project duration
  • Connected to the action and necessary
  • Resonable, justified , in acordance with sound financial management (not excessive, in line with good housekeeping practice)
  • Recorded, identifable and verifable with the beneficiary’s accounts, calculated according to accounting rules and the benaficiary’s usual cost accounting practices and in compliance with national laws on taxes, labour and social security
In addition to actual costs, Horizon Europe aims at implementing a greater use of Simplified forms of:
  • Unit cost: unit costs, previously typically used in the context of Marie-Curie fellowships in terms of unit cost per person-month or as personnel costs for owners of small and medium-sized businesses who do not receive a salary
  • Flatrate: a fixed percentage, usually applied to indirect project costs
  • Lumpsum: flat rate refund
Indirect costs: Flat Rate 25% of direct costs
Focus on the main news on the calculation of personnel costs: The complex and error-prone rules of Horizon 2020 will be replaced by a simple rule, based on daily rates. This approach will be applied to all (centrally managed) EU grants
  • Two possibilities: actual cost or unit cost 
  • Daily rate instead of hourly costs
  • One option for productive time (215 days)
  • Use of a single corporate daily rate and calendar year approach
  • No more ‘last closed financial year’ rule
  • No more timesheets (replaced by a monthly statement)
The Daily rate is calculated by dividing the annual cost of the person by the fixed amount of 215 working days per year and the result multiplied by the days worked on the project self-declared by the researcher.
Evaluation
Applying for EU R&I funding is highly competitive. The European Commission has developed a system for proposal
evaluation over successive framework programmes. It is a solid and recognised process based on an evaluation made by external
experts with a final decision taken by the Commission, fully and transparently justified. 
Three evaluation criteria: Excellence, Impact and Quality of Implementation. For proposals for ERC frontier research actions, only the criterion of Excellence is applied.
The work program establishes further details on the application of the assessment criteria, including any weighting coefficients and minimum scores. If the score is equal, they can constitute an element of advantage
  • The presence of SMEs in the consortium, 
  • gender diversity within the composition of the research teams
  • geographical diversity in the composition of the consortium
High level of attention in the choice of external evaluators: experts are selected based on their experience but also taking into account geographic background and gender equality. Specific rotation criteria allow the participation of new experts and encourage the participation of experts from all Member States.
Novelties in the evaluation process in Horizon Europe:
  • Adjusted evaluation criteria: Easier to understand, clearer definitions and consistent use of the terminology.
  • A pilot for anonymous evaluations
  • Right to react evaluation: Applicants will be actively involved in the evaluation process by reacting to experts’ individual comments. The experts will take applicants’ reaction into account before finalising their final assessment..
  • Portfolio approach: For calls with a portfolio approach, aiming to fund a group of actions that are intended to achieve all together a measurable common goal, the evaluation will be done in a two-phase approach. In the second phase the best proposals will be assessed with a view to considerations relevant to the creation of a portfolio.
N.B. There is the possibility of becoming project evaluators by registering on the F&T Portal as an external expert, this can be an opportunity for professional growth that allows you to better understand the evaluation mechanisms in view of the drafting of future successful project proposals.
Focus on ERC - European Research Council
ERC grants support projects carried out by an individual researcher who can employ researchers of any nationality as team members. It is also possible to have one or more team members located in a non-European country.
Its peculiarity is the fact that it is based "on the initiative of the researchers" with a “bottom up” approach, which allows researchers to identify new opportunities in any field of research and is therefore not oriented according to priorities established by others.
Calls issued by the ERC focus on five main funding schemes:
  • Starting Grant (StG): For promising early-career researchers of any nationality with 2-7 years of experience since completion of PhD
  • Consolidator Grant (CoG): For excellent researchers of any nationality with 7 to 12 years experience after PhD
  • Advanced Grant (AdG): For established research leaders with a recognised track record of research achievements
  • Synergy Grant (SyG): To address ambitious research questions that can only be answered by the coordinated work of a small group of 2-4 principal Investigators
  • Proof of Concept (PoC): For researchers wishing to work or gain experience in an ERC grantee’s team
 
2021 Work Programme is available here
Calls calendar 2021/2022. Dates indicated for the 2022 calls are tentative and subject to change.

Advanced Grants | Open: 20-05-2021 | Deadline: 31-08-2021
Starting Grants | Open: 23-09-2021 | Deadline: 13-01-2022 
Consolidator Grants | Open: 19-10-2021 | Deadline: 17-03-2022
Proof of Concept | Open: 15-07-2021 | Deadline: 10-10-2021
Synergy Grant | Open: 15-07-2021 | Deadline: 10-11-2021

Offial page ERC

Focus on Marie Sklodowska Curie Actions

Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions aim to support the career development and training of researchers in all scientific disciplines through international and intersectoral mobility.
Thanks to Marie Sklodowska-Curie actions researchers can obtain funding to update themselves, making their curriculum more competitive with excellent experiences abroad and in the private sector, and by integrating their training with other skills or disciplinary knowledge useful for career development. These actions are open to all disciplinary areas.
The Marie Skłodowska-Curie funding line in Horizon Europe is divided into four types of actions, which partly replace the previous ones in Horizon 2020:

  • Doctoral Networks (ex Innovative Training Network - ITN): Doctoral Networks are open to international consortia of universities, research institutions, businesses, SMEs and other non-academic organisations. Besides standard Doctoral Networks, incentives have been introduced to promote two specific types of doctorates as well: Industrial Doctorates and Joint Doctorates.
  • Postdoctoral Fellowships - PF (ex Individual Fellowships - IF): The objective of PFs is to support researchers’ careers and foster excellence in research. The Postdoctoral Fellowships action targets researchers holding a PhD who wish to carry out their research activities abroad, acquire new skills and develop their careers. 
  • Staff Exchanges (ex Research and Innovation Staff Exchanges - RISE): The SE action funds short-term international and inter-sectoral exchanges of staff members involved in research and innovation activities of participating organisations..
  • Co-funding of programmes (COFUND). The COFUND action provides funding for regional, national and international programmes for training and career development, through co-funding mechanisms. It spreads the MSCA’s best practices by promoting high standards and excellent working conditions.

Calls calendar 2021/2022:

Doctoral Networks | Open: 18-05-2021 | Deadline: 16-11-2021 
Postdoctoral Fellowship (PFs) | Open: 18-05-2021 | Deadline: 15-09-2021 
Staff Exchanges (SE) | Open: 07-10-2021 | Deadline: 09-03-2022
Cofunding Programmes (COFUND) | Open: 12-10-2021 | Deadline: 10-02-2022

Official Page Marie Skłodowska-Curie

Focus on European Innovation Council EIC
News of Horizon Europe the European Innovation Council (EIC) is aimed at supporting the commercialization of high-risk and high-impact technologies in the European Union.
The aim of the program is to accompany research on its journey from the birth of the idea to the establishment of the company and marketing of the final product. There are three tools available: 
  • Pathfinder (structured on FET Open and FET Proactive experiences), to support ambitious collaborative research projects focused on emerging technologies; 
  • Transition in an intermediate phase of setting up the start-up and validating the product 
  • Accelerator (structured on the SME Instrument experience), dedicated instead to companies and start-ups with a highly innovative vocation, with the aim of accelerating their growth processes on European and global markets (scaling-up).

Budget: €10.1 billion.
EIC Official web site