European Research Funding: Beyond the Horizon – Dr Orla Power-Grant

The European Commission funds research and innovation through a variety of mechanisms including the framework programmes. The current framework programme is called Horizon 2020. This programme has been running since 2014 and continues until 2020. Over the 7 years ~€80 billion will be distributed to European research activities. It aims to create growth and jobs, tackle societal challenges and reinforces Europe’s international competitiveness. The programme has 3 pillars, excellent science, industrial leadership and societal challenges. Within each strand there are annual calls to which individuals researchers or consortiums can make submissions. The EU funding landscape is competitive and within H2020 there has been an increased number of applications across all strands (~100,000 at the mid-point of the programme) making it difficult to succeed. Less than 1 in 4 high quality proposals received could be funded within the current budget. Interestingly, 17 Nobel prize winners are among those that have received funding to date! The Commission have reported a strong economic impact of the H2020 programme, to date, for every euro invested; they estimate a 6-8 fold return.

Researchers across EHS have been actively engaging with the opportunities within H2020. Successful submissions to date have included Prof. Catherine Woods (PESS) who is a Co-Principal investigator on the PATHway project, Dr. Ronni Greenwood (Psychology) who is a collaborator on the Home_EU project. Both projects are funded through the societal challenges pillar. Within excellent science Dr. Mary O’Keeffe (School of Allied Health) was awarded a Marie Curie Global Fellowship (Further details).

Having now passed the halfway point of the H2020 programme discussions have already begun on the next framework programme (FP9) which will be launched in 2021. The EU Commission established an independent high-level group to undertake a review and publish a series of recommendations for FP9. The Lamy Report contains a series of 11 recommendations that will likely guide the future of the EU funding landscape (Lamy Report). The aim of these recommendations is to maximise the impact of future EU research and innovation programmes. There are a number of key messages contained within the recommendations:

  • A call to double the budget
  • Simplify the operation of the programme (ie. Submission & Evaluation)
  • Further investment in people through creative education and training initiatives
  • Design a programme that focuses on greater impact of research and innovation activities
  • Adopt a mission orientated, impact focused approach to address global challenges
  • Greater involvement of citizens through approaches that stimulate co-creation and co-design
  • Capture and better communicate impact
  • Foster closer alignment between EU and National research and innovation funding
  • Promote stronger international cooperation with non-EU partners through reciprocal co-funding approaches

It is imperative for all researchers to be aware of the future direction of EU funding and consider how they might develop a personal research strategy that could maximise their engagement and opportunities within EU programmes.

Orla Power Grant RoundOrla Power-Grant is EHS Research Funding Officer.  Orla  provides dedicated research support to researchers with a particular emphasis on the research activities of the Graduate Entry Medical School and the Department of Physical Education and Sport Sciences.  You can contact Orla via email on or view her profile on  Linked In 

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