Societal Challenges

With a budget of about € 32 billion, the societal challenges part of Horizon 2020 regroups major strategic research and innovation domains. This priority addresses social concerns and EU policy objectives, such as health, climate change, environmental issues, energy, or transport.

Horizon 2020 introduces an important shift known as the challenge-based approach: topics are more generic, defining desired outcomes more than required technologies or approaches. Programmes are truly multidisciplinary and intend to cover projects along the whole RDI lifecycle.

Work programmes will cover a two-year period, thereby allowing researchers and companies to plan their participation in calls for proposals further ahead.

Horizon 2020 will address seven societal challenges

  • Health, demographic change and wellbeing
  • Food security, sustainable agriculture and the bio-based economy
  • Secure, clean and efficient energy
  • Smart, green and integrated transport
  • Climate action, resource efficiency and raw materials
  • Inclusive, innovative and reflective societies
  • Secure societies

Types of projects funded

This part of Horizon 2020 includes an array of different project types. The most common ones are projects focused on research, on innovation, or to allow networking in a wider sense.

  • Research and Innovation Action (collaborative, consortium-type research projects with at least three partners from three different countries)
  • Coordination and Support Action (collaborative or individual actions establishing networks, platforms, or other support action)
  • Innovation Action (collaborative, consortium-type projects focused on innovation)

Further project types include

  • ERA NET Cofund (EU funding supporting projects of national funding agencies)
  • SME Instrument (a dedicated programme addressing innovative SMEs)
  • Public Procurement
  • Expert Contracts
  • Prizes, and 
  • Grants to an identified beneficiary

Cross-cutting issues

Certain domains will be present in all the Work Programmes. These so-called cross-cutting issues are: innovation, spreading excellence and widening participation, information and communications technology (ICT), social sciences and humanities (SSH), gender, international cooperation,