Horizon 2020, the new EU funding programme for Research and Innovation, has been launched by the Commission and the first calls of the programme have been published on Dec 11th, 2013. Before understanding the context of the calls, everybody who is experienced in FP7 Programme wonders about the main novelties of Horizon 2020.
European Commission has launched Horizon 2020 Programme, the biggest EU Research and Innovation programme with a budget of nearly EUR 80 billion over 7 years (2014 to 2020). Compared with the previous programmes, some novelties of the new programme are as following:
- Single Programme: Compared with the previous programmes for research and innovation (FP7 and CIP), Horizon 2020 is a single programme for all EU managed research and innovation funding, with a single set of participation rules.
- Fewer Calls and Topics: Compared with the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7), there are relatively fewer calls and topics.
- Market oriented: Full integration of innovation in the programme, meaning more support that is closer to market application (e.g. demonstration, support for SMEs, innovation services, venture capital).
- Societal Challenges: A focus on the major societal challenges Europe and the world face. This will mean bringing together different technologies, sectors, scientific disciplines, social sciences and humanities, and innovation actors to find new solutions to these challenges.
- A single web portal: Radically simplified access for participants, including a single web portal for all information and projects, less paper work to make applications, and fewer controls and audits. (http://ec.europa.eu/research/participants/portal/desktop/en/home.html)
- Simpler Funding Rules: Simpler Funding Rules which will make the preparation of proposals and the management of projects easier. At the same time, they will reduce the number of financial errors.
The following approach is proposed:
o Simplified reimbursement of real direct costs, with a broader acceptance of beneficiaries’ usual accounting practices;
o The possibility of using unit personnel costs (average personnel costs) for beneficiaries for which this is their usual accounting method, and for SME owners without a salary;
o Simplification of time-recording by providing a clear and simple set of minimum conditions, in particular abolition of time-recording obligations for staff working full time on the EU project;
o Only two reimbursement rates for all types of participants: 100% for research activities, 70% for piloting and demonstration (it is 100% for NGOs;
o One single flat rate of 25% to cover indirect costs, instead of the current four methods for calculation;
o Continuation of the system of unit costs and flat rates for mobility and training actions (Marie Curie);
o Output-based funding with lump sums for whole projects in specific areas.
– Revised control strategy: which takes into account the policy objective of achieving a new balance between trust and control and reducing the administrative burden:
o On the ex-ante side, the guarantee fund will cover all actions under Horizon 2020, leading to fewer ex-ante financial capacity checks and a reduced number of certificates on financial statements;
o Ex-ante financial capacity checks in Horizon 2020 will be required only for coordinators (i.e. abolition of the threshold of EUR 500000 for other partners), reducing thus further the number of ex-ante checks;
o Voluntary ex-ante certification of accounting methodologies of organisations using unit personnel costs will be offered, as means for preventing errors and for providing ex-ante assurance;
o The focus of the ex-post audits will shift from a minimisation of the residual error rate towards risk-based audit and fraud detection. The overall number of ex-post audits will be limited with the Commission considering that as general guidance, a maximum of 7% of participants in Horizon 2020 would be subject to audit over the whole programming period.
o As a result, the Commission deems it possible to reduce the average time to grant in Horizon 2020 with 100 days as compared to the current situation.
Further simplification of research and innovation funding will result from the revision of the Financial Regulation (e.g. no declaration of interest on pre-financing, eligibility of VAT, limitation of extrapolation of systematic errors).