New Analysis Report reveals tough competition for Horizon 2020 funds

Horizon 2020, the EU's research and innovation programme, is attracting more and more researchers and innovators. In 2015 there was an increase in proposals by 25% compared to 2014, especially coming from businesses, whose number of applications increased by almost 27%. Almost 50 % of participants are newcomers, many of which are small and medium-sized companies.

These are some of the developments highlighted in a report on the first two years of Horizon 2020 that the European Commission published on 28 November 2016. The report shows that in 2014 and 2015, almost €16 billion has been allocated to over 9,000 research and innovation projects that boost excellent science, create industrial leadership and tackle societal challenges. In total, the programme attracted about 76,000 eligible proposals.

Tougher competion, more effiency

Éanna Kelly from Science|Business has a slightly more critical view: She points out that the odds of winning a grant from the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 research programme are now around one in nine. This is a sharp fall from the average 19 to 21 per cent odds in the preceding Framework Programme 7, which ran between 2007 and 2013.

The analysis, based on 152,627 Horizon 2020 applications received in 2015, shows many proposals to the €77 billion programme that received top marks from evaluators did not get funded.

'Horizon 2020 would have needed €41.6 billion more in the first two years to fund all proposals deemed excellent by independent evaluators', the report says.

On the other hand both sources stress that the grant application process has become more efficient:

According to the European Commission, the report highlights that the time from opening of applications to allocation of funding has dropped by almost 32 days from 2014 to 2015. The average time-to-grant for the first two years was only 6.7 months, which is 100 days shorter than the previous Framework Programme, FP7.

This is also acknowledged by Science|Business: 'More positively, grant processing has speeded up. Despite the application avalanche, more than 90 per cent of all grant agreements were signed by the Commission within the eight month target, shaving a month off the average turnaround time between 2007 and 2013.'

Moderate participation from non-EU countries

More researchers from outside the EU applied for grants in 2015 than in 2014, but strong interest is concentrated on a few countries: Submissions from the US, China, Canada and Australia make up almost half of all successful applications from outside Europe. The European Commission is trying to entice more non-EU countries to participate in Horizon 2020, bringing their own funding to the table.

Background information

Download the reports directly from the website of the European Commission:

Sources: European Commission, Science|Business