Horizon Europe: Overview

European Union (EU) framework programs for research and innovation are among the most ambitious multilateral funding programs in the world. Participation in Horizon Europe is increasingly global in scope.

  • Horizon 2020, Horizon Europe's predecessor, funded more than 7,500 collaborative projects with participants from 149 countries.
  • Canada's participation in Horizon 2020 ranked third among non-associated non-EU countries.

Canadian researchers and innovators may benefit from Horizon Europe through increased collaboration and networking, presenting a key opportunity to expand the reach of their research and the citation impact of their work.

Horizon Europe is the European Commission's latest research and innovation framework program. With a budget of €95.5 billion over seven years (2021 to 2027), it is the largest research and innovation funding program in the world.

The program fosters opportunities for international collaboration and strengthens the impact of research and innovation in tackling major global challenges, like climate change. It is built on three pillars.

The three pillars

Pillar 1: Excellent science

The first pillar, Excellent science, supports frontier research and breakthrough scientific ideas, teams up the best researchers from Europe and beyond and equips them with skills and world-class research infrastructures. Canada already funds Canadian participation in Pillar 1 programming through the Mitacs Globalink program (research scholarships and research mobility) and has existing agreements with Europe's major research infrastructures.

Pillar 2: Global challenges and European industrial competitiveness

The second pillar, Global challenges and European industrial competitiveness, supports research relating to societal challenges and reinforces technological and industrial capacities through six clusters: "Health," "Culture, Creativity & Inclusive Society," "Civil Security for Society," "Digital, Industry and Space," "Climate, Energy and Mobility," and "Food, Bioeconomy, Natural Resources, Agriculture & Environment." Pillar 2 sets missions with ambitious goals tackling some of the world's biggest problems. It also includes activities pursued by the Joint Research Centre, which supports the EU and national policymakers with independent scientific evidence and technical support. Canadian participation in Pillar 2 will be greatly enhanced by the Horizon Europe Association Agreement.

Pillar 3: Innovative Europe

The third pillar, Innovative Europe, aims to make Europe a frontrunner in market-creating innovation via the European Innovation Council. It also helps to develop the overall European innovation landscape through the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), which fosters the integration of the knowledge triangle of education, research and innovation. Pillar 3 is closed to non-European countries because of European technological sovereignty, although Canadian firms may be eligible for limited participation.

Types of research funded

Horizon Europe funds a wide range of research across disciplines, although it is primarily targeted at cutting-edge research and innovation within the STEM fields and social sciences. About 35% of Horizon Europe funding targets efforts to combat climate change.

Funding is allocated based on "strategic orientations," "missions," and "clusters."

First, Horizon Europe defines four key "strategic orientations":

  • Promoting an open strategic autonomy by leading the development of key digital, enabling and emerging technologies, sectors and value chains to accelerate and steer the digital and green transitions through human-centred technologies and innovations.
  • Restoring Europe's ecosystems and biodiversity and sustainably managing natural resources to ensure food security with a clean and healthy environment.
  • Making Europe the first digitally enabled circular, climate-neutral and sustainable economy through the transformation of its mobility, energy, construction and production systems.
  • Creating a more resilient, inclusive and democratic European society, prepared for and responsive to threats and disasters, addressing inequalities and providing high-quality health care, and empowering all citizens to act in the green and digital transitions.

In addition, Horizon Europe has identified five missions designed to achieve bold, measurable and inspirational goals within set timeframes with impact for society and policy-making. The mission areas are:

  1. Adaptation to climate change, including societal transformation
  2. Cancer
  3. Healthy oceans, seas, coastal and inland waters
  4. Climate-neutral and smart cities
  5. Soil health and food

Finally, Pillar 2 funding is centred around six 'clusters':

  1. Health
  2. Culture, Creativity and Inclusive Society
  3. Civil Security for Society
  4. Digital, Industry and Space
  5. Climate, Energy and Mobility
  6. Food, Bioeconomy, Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environment

To get a sense of the types of projects that are being funded, browse the EU funding & tender opportunities portal under the programme category "Horizon Europe." This European Commission dashboard provides simplified, real-time access to program data based on research themes, countries, regions, organizations, sectors and recipients.

Overall funding

Horizon Europe has allocated more than half of its €95.5 billion budget to Pillar 2, and more than 56% of this funding is assigned to the Digital, Industry and Space cluster as well as the Climate, Energy and Mobility cluster.

Horizon Europe is funded through contributions from EU member states and associated countries. Canadian researchers and innovators can apply to active and upcoming Horizon Europe Pillar 2 calls. These applications will be reviewed and awarded by the European Commission.

Horizon Europe is funded through contributions from EU member states and associated countries.