Horizon Europe is the 9th European support programme for research & development (R&D) of the European Union. With a budget of 95.5 billion euros, it is the most comprehensive European research support programme to date. The FFG acts as the National Contact Point for Austria and helps in the coordination. The aim is to provide the European research and development infrastructure with an energetic development impulse to strengthen the union for the future. In addition, Horizon Europe waits with some innovations, like the reinforcement of the European Innovation Council and cross-cluster missions.
Horizon Europe is built upon three pillars and dedicates itself to scientific excellence, the accomplishment of global challenges and the reinforcement of competitive and innovative capability of the EU. Its 6 thematic cluster include the following subjects:
- Cluster 1: Health
- Cluster 2: Culture, creativity and inclusive society
- Cluster 3: Civil safety for society
- Cluster 4: Digitisation, industry & space
- Cluster 5: Climate, energy and mobility
- Cluster 6: Foodstuff and natural resources
In doing so, Open Innovation is one of the structural cornerstones of the Horizon Europe support programme. In addition to the 9th support programme, there are other European support programmes, which enjoy extensive synergy effects with Horizon Europe. The most important support programmes are subsequently presented.
ERC Proof of Concept Grants
The ‚Proof of Concept‘ Grant from the European Research Councils (ERC) is directed towards researchers with an excellent “track record”, who would like to take the plunge into the economy. A prerequisite for this is successful participation in the ERC main grants (starting, consolidator, advanced or synergy) with the same or a connected project. The funding sum is 150,000.00 euros as a lump sum.
European Innovation Council
It is precisely the ground-breaking ideas that need support in their early stages. Financial means and consultation are part of the parameters that could lead to successful path-finding. The ‚Pathfinder‘ programme of the European Innovation Council (EIC) supports visionary minds in small and medium enterprises, start-ups and research institutes in finding ideas for disruptive solutions. Participants with ideas in early stages (technology readiness levels 1-3) are supported to the extent of up to 4 million euros. In addition, they benefit from the diversity and knowledge transfer within the EIC system.
The ‚Transition‘ programme is the next step in the EIC relay race. Supported projects should be further developed from “proof-of-concept” to an early degree of maturity. In doing this, both the technological and the market-oriented progress of the project are important. In doing this, mutual learning processes with contributors within the EIC system guide the exchange of knowledge and cooperative further development. ‘Transitions’ fund projects with up to 2.5 million euros for the validation and demonstration of technologies within the application-relevant fields.
The Accelerator programme of the EIC is directed towards start-up and small to medium enterprises. Contrary to the previous funding opportunities, this programme follows a broader financial strategy. Participating enterprises receive up to 2.5 million euros in funding for development costs and up to 15 million euros in “direct equity investment” for expansion. The application process includes a video pitch, a slide deck and an interview. In exceptional circumstances, large enterprises can also apply for this type of funding and/or be supported with more than 15 million euros in direct equity investment.
Digital technologies are essential in keeping the European Union (EU) competitive. As a result, the European Union invests around 7.6 billion euros in the development and expansion of digital capacity and infrastructure. The research fields: high-performance computers, artificial intelligence and cybersecurity, are of particular relevance. European Digital Innovation Hubs (EDIH) should support participating enterprises and all, above all, SMEs in these process with knowledge transfer and best-practice-sharing.
The innovative capability, resilience and competitiveness of the European defence industry is essential in the strategic autonomy of the European Union. The EDF supports cooperation and transfer projects, which address defence questions and close existing technological gaps. The aim is the support of disruptive technologies, as well as the collaborative development of defence products. The European Defence Fund is remunerated with a budget of 8 billion euros for the period 2021-2027.
With more than 600 regional partner organisations, the European Enterprise Network is largest service network globally for small and medium enterprises. The aim is to make the entry of Austrian enterprises into the international market easier. To achieve this, they are provided with international technology co-operations and advice by experienced experts of the regional service points. The FFG supports, for example, small and medium enterprises from Vienna, Lower Austria and the Burgenland in the fields of Innovation, Technology and Research.
Eureka is a network that brings together European and international enterprises in the field of the application-oriented research and development. With members within the European Union and more than 40 other countries, Eureka offers an impressive framework for international research activities in a non-military area. The tendering is thematically open for all divisions, it follows a bottom-up access and requires the participation of at least two, independent enterprises from two different Eureka countries. The maximum fund rate is 40 to 60 % of the costs eligible for aid.
With a budget of 5.43 billion euros and a long-term financing perspective, the LIFE programme is meant to support environmental and climate protection projects. To do this, LIFE is actively involved in the further development of EU environmental and climate policies, as well as the European Green Deal. The aim is to decouple the economic growth from resource use, to be net-zero emissions by 2050 and to support resource efficiency and competitive position of the economy. LIFE is categorised into 4 sub-programmes: Nature & biodiversity, circular economy & quality of life, climate protection & climate change adaptation, as well as a transition to clean energy.
The Single Market Programme (SMPis the successor of the COSME (Competitiveness of Enterprises and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises) programme. The SMP should contribute to the improvement of competitiveness of small and medium-sized enterprises, and make their access to new markets easier. There are a number of links with Horizon Europe, whereby the SMP is specifically directed at finance and economy intermediaries, agencies, interest groups, associations, etc. The funding amount is frequently 90 to 100 % of the project costs.
Cybersecurity and digital sovereignty present important cornerstones of European innovation and industry policy. A network made up of national coordination centres alongside the European Cybersecurity Competence Centre (ECCC), should strengthen cyber defence of the EU, support start-ups and small to medium-sized enterprises in the field of cybersecurity and lead to the (further) development and market introduction of European cybersecurity technologies. The National Coordination Centre is based on the cooperation of the National Chancellery (BKA) and the FFG. In doing so, the BKA acts as the national contact point and is represented on the Governing Board of the ECCC. The FFG supports the BKA, adopts the funding consultancy and aids the community in developing skills, as well as application and networking.