Funding News

The final Horizon 2020 Work Programmes (2018-2020)

Ever since we analysed the Strategic Programme Overarching Document, we’ve been waiting for the official Horizon 2020 Work Programmes (WPs) for the years 2018-2020 to be published. With the release of the WPs late last week, the wait has finally come to an end. Because we’ve already had access to the drafts for some months now, there aren’t many big surprises in store, however there are a few things we’d like to discuss in today’s article.

General information on the Work Programmes 2018-2020

It’s been known that the EC will invest €30 billion in the final WPs. Making up almost 40% of the total Horizon 2020 budget, this is the biggest budget for the final period of a Framework Programme so far. However the bigger budget will not result in broader topics. In fact, there will be fewer topics compared to previous Work Programmes. The EC has judged the chosen call topics to be more critical and will thus reward them with a higher budget. The call topics within the final Work Programmes will be prioritising migration, security, climate, clean energy and the digital economy.

Key priorities of the Work Programmes 2018-2020

In our look at the Work Programmes drafts, we highlighted three potential Focus Areas: Climate action, Digitisation and Security.

Focus Area 1: The focus area Building a low Carbon, Climate-resilient Future has been rewarded with a total budget of €3.3 billion. The goals remain the same as in the draft: Contributing towards the goals set in the Paris Agreement. The EC has highlighted that the development of next generation batteries will receive up to €200 million funding.

Focus Area 2: Another Focus Area we previously highlighted and now going by the name Digitising and transforming European industry and services has received a budget of €1.7 billion, making it the second biggest Focus Area. With ransoftware attacks like WannaCry and Wi-Fi encryption errors like KRACK making international headlines during the last months, the EC has also chosen to put stronger emphasis on cybersecurity.

Focus Area 3: The Focus Area Security has received the title Boosting the effectiveness of the Security Union and will seek to prevent and fight serious crime as part of the implementation of Security Union priorities. This Focus Area will be funded with €1 billion.

These three focus areas will be joined by the Circular Economy to make four. Another highlighted area, but not a Focus Area, is migration.

Connecting economic and environmental gains – the Circular Economy

A total of €941million will go into supporting the EC’s Circular Economy package. With this funding the EC is looking to promote sustainable development goals, resource efficiency, climate actions, jobs and growth and industrial competitiveness.


Migration is not defined as a Focus Area because the financial contribution will be coming from a single part of the Work Programme, but is a political priority. Research in this area will be focusing on issues such as the root causes of irregular migration, migration management and integration of migrants into host societies.

Out of the blue: The European Innovation Council (EIC)

Along with the upcoming Work Programmes, the EC will be launching a pilot phase of the European Innovation Council (EIC). The goal is to support high-risk, high-gain and out of the blue innovation. The pilot will be rewarded with €2.7 billion in order to create the markets of the future. The EIC will be supported by a High Level Group of Innovators who will form a sounding board to help evaluate measures and act as ambassadors to the EIC in the innovation ecosystem. This group is made up of entrepreneurs, CEOs and other major players in the innovation ecosystem.

The EIC is aimed at innovators, start-ups and companies with ideas and innovation. It will reward anyone with ideas that are radically different from existing solution, are of high risk – high gain nature and have the potential to scale up internationally. The first phase will bring together four different schemes: The Horizon 2020 SME Instrument, the Fast Track to Innovation, parts of Future and Emerging Technologies and a set of six EIC Horizon Prizes (a type of “crack the challenge” prizes).

With the launch of the EIC there is a big change for the Horizon 2020 SME Instrument: For the first time, it will be fully bottom up. SMEs looking for funding will no longer have to apply for funding on predefined topics. Instead, innovative proposals can be submitted in any area of technology or business.

To find out more and to apply for funding under the EIC, the EC has already published a website with all the relevant information.

Another pilot: The Lump Sum Pilot

The EC has promised to simplify things during the final Work Programmes and this so-called Lump Sum Pilot will attempt to do that by changing from a control-based to a trust-based cost reimbursement model. The Lump Sum Pilot will remove a big part of the administrative burden on beneficiaries: There will be no need for cost reporting, timesheets and financial ex-post audits on costs incurred. The Lump Sum Pilot won’t be revolving around financial management. Instead, the focus will shift to checks on the scientific-technical content of projects. The Lump Sum Pilot will be evaluated for an inclusion in Horizon 2020’s successor.

The Work Programmes 2018-2020 and accelopment

While each and every proposer will be hoping for a higher success rate and reduced workload on unsuccessful proposals, we’ve been able to observe how proposals that were written with the help of accelopment achieve a higher success rate. You can use our contact page to get in touch with us.

Even with the promise of a simplified administration, we do not expect that projects will be able to run smoothly without a dedicated project manager. To ensure keeping our high standards, accelopment is ISO 9001 certified for EU proposal preparation and project management. During a project accelopment can participate as a Beneficiary for project management and dissemination, exploitation and communication. We reduce the workload of researchers and companies by guiding applicants, revising the technical parts of the proposal and reviewing the non-scientific parts. Importantly, we are particularly strong in the Impact section that is becoming increasingly important

Relevant links and further Information

PDF on the Lump Sum Pilot

PDF on the Migration Challenges

EC Press Release on the Work Programmes

EC Fact Sheet on the Work Programmes