The anticipated Evaluation of Horizon 2020 has been published


It looks back over 7 years of the framework program based on interviews with hundreds of grant recipients.

The framework program for research and innovation Horizon 2020 has awarded 80 billion euros in its seven years of operation to excellent projects in Europe and beyond. The just-published document evaluates the entire program using quantitative and qualitative methods, works with data from successful and unsuccessful applicants, and also takes into account over 1,800 suggestions sent via stakeholder consultations.

The focus of the program was stimulation of economic growth and creation of jobs in synergy with the support of excellent science, industry, and the solution to societal challenges. According to economic indicators, the program managed to fulfill these criteria. This was thanks to the creation of up to 220,000 new jobs along with significant growth of companies supported by the program and stimulation of the private sector. The program also succeeded in mobilizing both the state and the private sector for investments, which are supposed to quadruple the value of each invested euro by 2040. In general, the European Commission evaluates the contribution of the program positively. Especially in the case of the quick response to the Covid-19 pandemic or the Ebola and Zika virus epidemics.

Widening countries received a total of 8% of funding from the programme, which the report notes is a slight increase over the previous FP7 programme, while 50% of funding went to just four countries (Germany, UK, France and Spain). The reasons for the low participation of widening countries are, for example, the lack of capacities for project management or brain drain, to which the Horizon Europe program responded with tools to increase the circulation of scientific workers or by strengthening national contact points.

In total, the program received 1 million grant applications from 177 countries and subsequently supported almost 35,000 projects and 40,000 organizations. The report also states that the European Commission would need an additional 159 billion euros to finance all excellent projects that deserve to be funded. For that reason, Horizon 2020 was the first program where the Seal of Excellence tool appeared, with which the Commission signalled to regional and national actors what projects deserve support. During the period of operation of the program, the Commission recommended 20,890 projects for further funding, however, insufficient information about these projects led to a small amount of additional support. Despite this, the evaluation calls for the continuation of the Seal of Excellence tool and its simplification.

The evaluation results in a series of recommendations that will help identify priorities in the coming framework programs. Among them is the expansion of participation in other programs not only to other states, but also to actors from various sectors and emerging industries. There is also a need for more effective dissemination and use of research results, support for female researchers and innovators, or deeper support for synergies with regional and national initiatives.

The evaluation will be supplemented by similar topics of the Belgian Presidency, which in the field of science, research and innovation will focus on the valorisation of research results and their use in practice, strategic autonomy and strengthening the position of R&D&I in society.

Read the whole evaluation, its summary and related data on the website of the European Commission.