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Horizon 2020: aiming for greater impact as it enters its final phase

On July 2, 2019, the European Commission announced a EUR 11 billion investment in new solutions for societal challenges and to drive innovation-led sustainable growth through the final part of the Horizon 2020 research framework programme The new work programme shares many of SusChem’s policy priorities and emphasises issues highlighted in the Cefic ambitious vision document ‘Molecule Managers’.

In announcing its research and innovation budget plan for 2020 – the final year of the Horizon 2020 programme – the Commission is seeking greater impact for its research funding by focusing on fewer, but more crucial, topics such as climate change, clean energy, plastics, cybersecurity and the digital economy. The final year of Horizon 2020 will also prepare the way for Horizon Europe, the next framework programme (2021-2027).

Announcing the programme Carlos Moedas, European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, said: “Horizon 2020 is generating new knowledge and technologies, and has a strong economic impact. For every EUR 100 we invest through Horizon 2020, we expect to add EUR 850 to our GDP by 2030, creating millions of jobs for Europeans. That is why we have proposed EUR 100 billion for the next Horizon Europe programme, to boost the EU’s competitiveness, innovation capacities and scientific excellence.”

Priorities for sustainable chemistry and process

Of the four main focus areas for the programme, sustainable chemistry and the European Chemical Industry can feature prominently in providing innovative solutions in three:

  • Building a low-carbon, climate resilient future that aims to support the Paris Agreement goals, accelerate transformation towards carbon neutrality through clean technologies, enhance climate resilience in Europe and beyond, and contribute to long-term mitigation and adaptation policy planning. Funding in 2020 amounts to EUR 1.4 billion including: EUR 132 million to support the development and production in Europe of the next generation of batteries (calls open in July and December 2019) and EUR 60 million for sustainable energy solutions in cities (calls open September 2019 and May 2020).
  • Connecting economic and environmental gains to enable a Circular Economy that aims to ensure resources are used efficiently, including primary and secondary raw materials, reduce waste and environmental pollution, and create competitive advantages and new opportunities for businesses. Funding in 2020 encompasses calls worth EUR 400.7 million for topics including EUR 20 million for upcycling plastics in food and drinks packaging (calls open in July 2019) and EUR 97.5 million for sustainably using and re-using raw materials and water in industrial production (calls open in July 2019).
  • Digitising and transforming European industry and services aims to support the digitisation of European Industry, notably through innovation hubs, platforms and largescale pilots, foster the uptake of digital technologies and innovations, as well as synergies with other Key Enabling Technologies, leverage the possibilities offered by ICT to address major societal challenges, and address and prepare Europe for the societal impact of the digital transformation. Funding in 2020 amounts to EUR 649.1 million.

Bridging to Horizon Europe

In anticipation of the expected structure and content of the Horizon Europe programme that launches in 2021, EUR 209 million has been allocated in the last phase of Horizon 2020 to bring together actions on food and natural resources.

Co-creating methods and approaches are being tested through cross-cutting calls on interdisciplinary challenges such as Competitive, Low Carbon and Circular Industries. To trial ways of simplifying participants’ experience, the use of Lump-sum pilots will be further expanded throughout the work programme.  In addition, policy areas with increased prominence in the Horizon Europe proposal are addressed including smart buildings and airports, and the microbiome.

You can find the full work programme on the Horizon 2020 website and download the European Commission press release (including links to Horizon 2020 factsheets) here.