Spreading Excellence and Widening Participation

Performance in research and innovation varies significantly among European Member States. Horizon 2020 has therefore introduced measures to help certain Member States catch up and take full advantage of Horizon 2020. The objective of the “Widespread” programme is to develop R&I capacity in low-performing Member States, by complementing national and regional efforts.

New support for cooperation

Horizon 2020 introduces three new instruments: Teaming, Twinning and ERA Chairs.

  • “Teaming for Excellence” will invest in Europe’s research and innovation potential through supporting the creation of new (or upgrading of existing) Centres of Excellence on the basis of partnerships with internationally leading institutions.
  • Twinning aims to build on the huge potential of networking for excellence through knowledge transfer and, exchange of best practice between research institutions and leading partners.
  • ERA Chairs will bring outstanding researchers to universities and other research organisations that have high potential for research excellence.

Teaming for Excellence

The Teaming scheme will help implement a Centre of Excellence in a "low performing Member State". It includes two phases.

  • The result of the first stage is a business plan for a Centre of Excellence in the “low-performing Member State”. To develop this business plan, the future Centre will “team up” with a leading counterpart in Europe. The project has to be backed by a national authority, such as a funding agency. A typical project at this stage will obtain €200.000 to €500.000 per proposal and will typically last 12 months. 
  • In the second stage, the business plan will be evaluated. If it demonstrates good quality and other financial commitments are secured (by national or Cohesion Policy funds), the European Commission may provide “further substantial financial support” to help the Centre set up its business. A typical project may obtain €15-20M for a duration of five to seven years.

Each teaming project has at least two partners.

  • The Coordinator from a “low performing Member State” (a research agency or regional authority.
  • An institution known to be excellent in its research and innovation field, or a consortium of such institutions.

The overall budget for the Teaming scheme in Horizon 2020 (2014-2020) is about € 270 M. Another call is planned for 2018.


The “Twinning” scheme will strengthen a field of research in an institution of a “low performing Member State” or region, by establishing a partnership with two or more of its European counterparts that have proven their excellence and leadership.

How to participate

The proposals will outline the strategy that will help the “low performing” partner enhance its scientific excellence, and demonstrate the quality of the partners involved in the twinning exercise.

The 2017 call is endowed with about € 30 M; it will close in November 2017. A typical selected project will obtain € 1 M of EU support and will last for about three years. The overall Horizon 2020 budget for this scheme is about € 100 M.  

Typical Activities

The Twinning scheme is a Coordination and Support Action (CSA). Typically, this funding will cover costs activities such as expert visits, short trainings, workshops, the attendance of conferences, the organisation of joint “summer school” type activities, or dissemination and outreach activities. Equipment and salaries are not part of eligible costs of the Twinning scheme.

ERA Chairs

The ERA Chairs scheme will help attract bright researchers and managers to universities or other research organisations with ambition and potential.

  • Any scientific domain is eligible, but it should be reflected in the national strategy for “Smart Specialisation”.
  • A good proposal will also address plans to improve the use of existing research capacities or necessary investments in infrastructure.

An ERA Chair will help make the institution more attractive for other researchers and may even increase the participation in Horizon 2020 or other competitive programmes.

He or she will be an outstanding researcher and research manager, recruited via an open and merit-based process.

How to participate

  • Applicant organisations come from eligible “low performing” Member States or Associated Countries (as described in the Work Programme).
  • One successful project per country can be funded.
  • The EU contribution will be about €2.5 M for five years. This budget will cover the salaries of the ERA Chair and the team, and costs such as training, publication, or equipment. It will not cover research costs per se.