Horizon Europe

Horizon Europe is the EU’s key funding programme for research and innovation with a budget of € 95.5 billion.

For Ghent University, European and international research collaboration is a policy priority, and participation in Horizon Europe is intensively supported by a central EU Team of more than 30 staff members.

Structure of Horizon Europe

Structure of Horizon Europe

Pillar 1 Excellent Science


ERC grants are awarded to top researchers from any nationality, to conduct investigator-driven frontier research in any field at a Host Institution in a European Member State or Associated Country.

Scientific excellence, both of the applicant and the project, is the only evaluation criterion.

Applicants can submit a high-risk, high-gain frontier research project of 5 years duration. 


The Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions (MSCA) provide grants for all stages of researchers' careers.

There are several funding schemes, amongst which:

  • MSCA Postdoctoral Fellowships (MSCA-PF): for researchers who obtained a PhD
  • MSCA Doctoral Networks (MSCA-DN): for consortia of universities and non-academic institutions, to hire and train 10 to 15 mobile PhD students.
    • For Joint Doctorates (MSCA-DN-JD): specific information on the proposal: admission, selection, supervision, monitoring and assessment procedures for the joint PhDs: contact EU-team
  • MSCA Staff Exchanges (MSCA-SE): for consortia of universities and non-academic institutions, to second own Research and Innovation staff (including technical and support staff) to other partners.
  • More about MSCA


Research Infrastructures

Research Infrastructures are facilities that provide resources and services for research communities to conduct research and foster innovation.

They can be used beyond research e.g. for education or public services and they may be single-sited, distributed, or virtual.

Pillar 2 Global Challenges and European industrial competitiveness

Pillar 2 aims to boost key technologies and solutions underpinning EU policies & Sustainable Development Goals by funding  collaborative research and innovation projects bringing together stakeholder across Europe.

  • The Work Programmes of each Cluster contain specific topics pre-defined by the EC to support European policy and it’s Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Topics can request for proposals in the form of different types of actions.


Cluster 1: Health

Horizon Europe Health cluster 1 places the promotion of social cohesion and inclusiveness and the health and well-being of every European at the forefront. For 2021 and 2022 specifically, research and innovation will be focused on staying healthy in a rapidly changing society, Living & working in a health-promoting environment, Tackling diseases & reducing disease burden, Ensuring access to innovative, sustainable & high-quality Healthcare, Unlocking the full potential of new tools, technologies and digital solutions for a healthy society and Maintaining an innovative, sustainable & globally competitive health industry.

Cluster 2: Culture, Creativity and Inclusive Society

R&I actions in Cluster 2 enable researchers to develop solutions to challenges concerning democratic governance, cultural heritage and the creative economy, and social and economic transformations. Your research will impact the development of policy action in favour of democracy and its stability, the engagement with political extremism and polarization, the protection of historical sites, monuments and cultural landscapes, and the reversion of social, economic, cultural and political inequalities as well as the promotion of gender equality .

Cluster 3: Civil Security for Society

Cluster 3 opens pathways for researchers to formulate solutions to wider EU responses to security arising from persistent threats like terrorism and (cyber)crime as well as natural and man-made disasters. In cooperation with European civil security industry sector, you can support implementation of EU policy priorities relating to (cyber)security, disaster risk management, border monitoring and better protection of citizens from violent attacks in public spaces.

Cluster 4: Digital, Industry, Space

Advances in digital and manufacturing technologies, along with space applications, are key drivers of Europe’s society and economy. Cluster 4 will provide funding opportunities for new technological challenges, built on both fundamental and applied sciences, that ensure competiveness, sustainability and inclusiveness of the European community. Research priorities range from new manufacturing technologies and materials to advanced computing, big data and ultra-high throughput telecommunication.

Cluster 5: Climate, Energy, Mobility

The main objectives of this cluster is to fight climate change by achieving climate neutrality in Europe before 2050, entailing the decarbonisation of the energy and mobility sectors by 2050 at the latest (as well as that of other sectors not covered by this cluster), while boosting their competitiveness, resilience and utility for citizens and society. Actions will support the implementation of the Paris Agreement, the European Green Deal, the European Economic Recovery Plan and other EU priorities in the areas of climate, energy, and mobility.

Cluster 6: Food, Bioeconomy, Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environment 

In Horizon Europe Cluster 6, your research accelerates the transition to a more sustainable management of natural resources that ensures ecosystem integrity and human well-being, including food and nutrition security. As a result, you contribute to interlinked, long-term impacts, such as the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, the halt of biodiversity decline and the establishment of food and bio-based systems geared towards sustainability, health and safety.

Pillar 3 Innovative Europe

European Innovation Council (EIC)

The EIC aims at identifying and supporting breakthrough technologies and innovations with the potential to scale up internationally and become market leaders. EIC funds ground-breaking innovative projects that contribute to the creation of new technologies or disruption of the existing markets. High-risk and high-impact projects are the key.

EIC funding is divided in 3 channels that are designed to cover the whole innovative development pipeline from low to high TRLs:

  1. EIC Pathfinder - TRL 1-2-3-(4) - discovery and basic research
  2. EIC Transition - TRL 4-5-6 - applied research 
  3. EIC Accelerator - TRL >7 - product development and production

European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT)

The EIT is an EU body created by the European Union in 2008 to strengthen Europe’s ability to innovate. The EIT drives innovation in Europe by integrating business, education and research to find solutions to pressing global challenges.

The EIT offers a wide range of innovation and entrepreneurship activities:

  • education courses that combine technical and entrepreneurial skills
  • tailored business creation and acceleration services
  • innovation driven research projects

This brings new ideas and solutions to the market, turns students into entrepreneurs and, most importantly, delivers innovation.

In order to address the most pressing global challenges the EIT is divided in Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs). Currently there are 8 KICs and UGent is an active member in 3 of them:

  1. EIT Health
  2. EIT Raw Materials
  3. EIT Urban Mobility

 European Innovation Ecosystems (EIE)

The EIE aims to create a more connected and efficient innovation ecosystem that supports the scaling of companies and spurs innovation to address important challenges in a responsible way. The approach to this is twofold via Connect and Scale up actions.

  • Connect actions focus on building an integrated, inclusive innovation ecosystem.
  • Scale up actions focus on reinforcing the capacity of ecosystems to support existing and emerging innovators and companies.

Cross cutting pillar

Widening participation and spreading excellence


  • To underpin and amplify the impact of Horizon Europe by helping countries that are lagging behind, including the EU outermost regions, to contribute to actions under other parts of Horizon Europe.
  • To enhance research and innovation capacity, spurring national reforms, facilitating brain circulation, launching measures for promoting excellence, creating new collaborative networks across the EU and supporting the opening of established networks to applicants from widening countries.


  • Teaming: creating new or upgrading existing Centres of Excellence
  • Twinning: significantly improving the research and innovation capacity of universities and research organisations
  • ERA Chairs: attracting and maintaining high quality human resources in research organisations 
  • COST Actions: ensuring scientific networking, capacity building and career development support to researchers at all career stages
  • Read more

Strengthening the European Research Area


  • To support a new phase in the development of the European Research Area and synergies with the European Higher Education Area


  • By supporting the challenges identified in Pillar II, including missions and partnerships, to ensure that the strategic investments made there deliver maximum impact.
  • By alignment of national reforms and increased programme level collaboration across Member States and Associated Countries, and will help increase the impact of both national and European investments in research and innovation.
  • By supporting other research and innovation priorities including Open Science, citizens’ science, gender equality and other forms of diversity, improving international cooperation, ethics and integrity, and scientific input to other EU policies.
  • Read more

More information

Read more about the European Framework Programme for Research and Innovation on the European Commission's website: