21 November 2017

Horizon 2020 – Societal challenges: new work programme 2018–2020

Spanning seven years (2014–2020) and with a budget of €77 billion, Horizon 2020 is the biggest EU research and innovation funding programme ever. The final work programme for Horizon 2020, covering the years 2018, 2019 and 2020 for a total amount of around €30 billion, is now available. Its “societal challenges” include many issues of interest to the Institute’s research community.

The work programme aims to address political priorities of the European Commission through targeted research and innovation actions that can deliver significant impact. It is allocated on the basis of competitive calls (467 in total) on predefined topics distributed across seven societal challenges and a series of complementary measures. Each call comes with a budget, conditions, and closing dates for applications.

The new work programme is articulated around four focus areas: a low-carbon, climate resilient future; circular economy; digitising and transforming European industry and services; and security union. It also includes around 30 flagship initiatives on topics dedicated to international cooperation such as working with India on water challenges and with African countries on food security and renewable energies.

Projects are carried out by international consortia (on average between five and eight partners, but a minimum of three are required) and usually last for three to four years. Calls are announced on a rolling basis until 2020. Here is an outline of the topics most relevant to the Institute’s research community, distributed by societal challenges (SCs):

  • SC1: Health, demographic change and wellbeing – in particular: governance and response to infectious threats
  • SC2: Food security, sustainable agriculture and forestry, marine and maritime and inland water research – in particular: food systems in Africa; empowerment of small farmers; social and gender aspects; food chain and sustainability
  • SC3: Secure, clean and efficient energy – in particular: financing for energy efficiency investments; social sciences and humanities aspects of the clean-energy transition; modelling the transition to a low-carbon energy system
  • SC5: Climate action, environment, resource efficiency and raw materials – in particular: climate change and migration; implementation of the Paris Agreement; achieving long-term climate goals and sustainable development; understanding water-energy-food nexus; sustainable management in extractive industries; valuing nature: mainstreaming natural capital; international network to promote cultural heritage innovation
  • SC6: Europe in a changing world – Inclusive, innovative and reflective societies – in particular: understanding migration mobility patterns; migration governance; social and economic effects of migration; integration challenges for migrant children; international protection of refugees; forced displacement; socioeconomic effects of technological transformations; societal value of culture; social platform on endangered cultural heritage; trust in governance; past, present and future of differentiation in European governance; addressing populism and boosting democratic engagement; enhancing social rights and EU citizenship; new forms of delivering public goods; trends and forward-looking scenarios in global governance; addressing radicalisation through social inclusion; drivers and contexts of violent extremism in the broader MENA region and the Balkans; extreme ideologies and polarisation
  • SC7: Secure societies – Protecting freedom and security of Europe and its citizens – in particular: human aspects of security; conflict prevention; terrorism: understanding and tackling terrorist ideas and beliefs; better cope with radicalisation; disaster resilience; aspects of border and external security

It is also possible to identify relevant calls through the H2020 search engine and its keyword search options.

SC6 should prove of particular relevance to researchers of the Graduate Institute as it specifically aims to draw on inputs from the humanities and social sciences to address the concerns of the European citizens regarding migration, the fourth industrial revolution and governance-related challenges.

The evaluation criteria set by the European Commission include: excellence (innovation potential), impact (expectations specified for each call) and implementation (feasibility). Proposals are reviewed and evaluated by expert panels. In general a successful proposal is signed eight months after its submission.

To participate in a H2020 project it is essential to identify relevant partners and consortia. There are a number of useful tools in this respect:

H2020 also runs a series of transversal programmes such as Science with and for Society, which is designed to build effective cooperation between science and society. Some of its calls also may be of interest to the Graduate Institute’s research community as they relate to gender, ethics and citizen science.

Finally, it should also be known that the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation awards a lump sum of CHF 8,000 to Swiss applicants to H2020 taking on the role of project coordinator.

Further links:

  • Participant Portal Horizon 2020 – the central platform for all information and applications to H2020 calls
  • SSH-flagging – calls with a direct relevance for social sciences and humanities are flagged by the European Commission across all SC programmes
  • How to participate – guidelines provided by the European Commission on how to apply for funding