Following a large open public consultation with close to 2000 replies from project beneficiaries, national authorities and implementing bodies, the European Commission has published the final report on the ex-post evaluation of Horizon 2020. This was the EU’s eighth research and innovation funding programme, operating from 2014 to 2020 with a budget of €75.6 billion, which made a major contribution to building a society and economy rooted in research and innovation (R&I). These are the areas in which, since the very beginning, the EU has invested in order to give Member States and their economies competitive edge, resilience and technological independence. With this purpose, Horizon 2020 aimed at stimulating the economic growth, by creating jobs, promoting collaboration in research and innovation and by supporting scientific and industrial excellence to make the EU able to promptly address important societal challenges.
Horizon 2020 funded over 35,000 projects over seven years, and launched over 1,000 calls for proposals, attracting more than one million individual applications from 177 countries. The programme played a crucial role in the fight against climate change, with 64.4% of budget invested in sustainable development. Furthermore, the programme funded also projects that provide concrete solutions in increasingly strategic sectors, including hydrogen-fuelled transports, mRNA vaccines (promptly responding to COVID-19, Ebola and Zika epidemics), photon energy and micro- and nano-electronics.
Thanks to Horizon 2020 funding, the European Innovation Council provided unprecedented support to potentially ground-breaking technological innovations and deep-tech companies, and almost 4,000 patents and trademarks were created. Moreover, the participating firms had 20% additional increase in employment, and 30% increase in turnover and total assets. In the long term, the programme is estimated to contribute an average annual increase of €15.9 billion to EU GDP, totalling €429 billion over the period 2014-2040.
The researchers who obtained Horizon 2020 funding issued over 276,000 scientific publications and the programme supported 33 Nobel Prize winners. Moreover, the programme was pivotal in diversifying and enhancing researchers’ skills and knowledge, by supporting mobility of almost 50,000 researchers in several fields and countries. Last but not least, Horizon 2020 allowed the EU to develop and upgrade research infrastructures at both European and global level: more than 24,000 researchers and organizations gained access to these infrastructures, expanding opportunities for collaborative work and scientific advancements.
Notwithstanding the important contribution of Horizon 2020, this final evaluation made by the Commission highlighted several key areas for further improvement, including:
- Broadening participation to the programme;
- Further simplification and reduction of administrative requirements;
- Enhancing exploitation and dissemination of results;
- Supporting women in research and innovation;
- Unlocking more synergies by implementing initiatives at the EU, national and international levels.
However, the results and conclusions of the final evaluation of Horizon 2020 will play a crucial role not only in shaping the ongoing implementation of Horizon Europe, but also in influencing policy development for future research and innovation initiatives. This will ensure that the lessons learned from Horizon 2020 are effectively integrated into current and future programmes to further improve their efficiency, relevance and impact on citizens.
Further in formation is available at the following links: https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=SWD%3A2024%3A30%3AFIN&%3Bqid=1706526731965https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=COM%3A2024%3A49%3AFIN&%3Bqid=1706527941657