Horizon 2020 (duration: 2014-2020, budget: around 80 billion euro) is European Union's 8th Framework Programme for Research and Innovation and is clearly the core of EU research funding. With the largest ever-launched research programme, the European Commission is pursuing the objectives of strengthening the competitiveness of the European economy, stimulating scientific, technical and social innovation and contributing to the resolution of key societal challenges in Europe and the world.
The structure of Horizon 2020 is divided into three pillars, which in turn are subdivided into different individual measures.
- The first pillar covers all scientific fields across all established disciplinary boundaries and is focussing on "Scientific Excellence". Among others, the first pillar is composed of the European Research Council (ERC), aiming at excellence and introducing unconventional approaches, as well as the Marie-Skłodowska-Curie Activites, promoting intersectoral and transnational mobility.
- The second pillar, the "leading role of the industry", is a programme line that provides - in addition to funding for application-oriented research and innovation in key areas of European industry - access to risk financing as well as targeted support for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
- The third pillar, the "Societal Challenges", consists of seven political challenges, which can only be solved in interdisciplinary and cross-border cooperation in transnational consortia. The project topics are defined top-down by the European Commission.