Horizon Europe is Europe’s most ambitious funding scheme up to now. Building upon the knowledge and results of the previous programme Horizon 2020, it is the 9th in a series of funding plans of the European Commission that covers the funding of research and innovation with 95,5 billion euros. It was officially announced by the EU on 2nd of February 2021 and will cover projects’ funding until 2027.
The main structure of Horizon Europe
The programme is structured into three main pillars (and a sub category), categorized into six clusters, thus six thematic areas, each of one including the so called destinations or impacts. Clusters represent the boosting key technologies and solutions underpinning EU policies & Sustainable Development Goals.
The three Pillars and the sub category are: “Excellent Science”, “Global Challenges & European Industrial Competitiveness”, “Innovative Europe”, and “Widening Participation and Strengthening the European Research Area”.
The six clusters are: Health, Culture, Creativity & Inclusive Society, Civil Security for Society, Digital, Industry & Space, Climate, Energy & Mobility, and Food, Bioeconomy, Natural Resources, Agriculture & Environment. Here we will analyze the first cluster, the one about Health.
Cluster 1- Health
This cluster has been in the forefront of the Horizon Europe funding programme as it is inextricably connected with the COVID-19 pandemic that has beyond doubt altered our lives, our well being, our social interactions and mental condition during the past three years. The 1st pandemic of our century has uncovered the vulnerabilities of the health care systems and health professionals across Europe, with some countries showing more resilience than others, namely the ones that had already insufficient public health systems. At the same time, the pandemic has underpinned the critical role of the public infrastructure in times of world medical crisis, and the importance of a vigilant research and innovation sector that can rapidly develop new medicines, vaccines, technologies, especially when we are faced with such public health emergencies.
For all the above reasons, the European Union along with the European Commission and the European Parliament have decided to dedicate a significant amount of money (specifically €977,8 million) to projects related to health in order to understand the long-term effects of both COVID-19 and the social distancing measures on people’s health and well-being, and in turn develop effective responses for its solid recovery. They named it the “Recovery Plan” that will help the E.U. to overcome the crisis and acquire the foundations for a modern and more sustainable future.
How is the E.U. going to find the money for all this? The Health cluster will benefit from financial resources from the next Multiannual Financial Framework and from NextGenerationEU (NGEU), the European Union’s financing instrument to boost the recovery. Also, some finance will come from the EU’s Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF), that is available in all Member States. This will finance these projects that directly tackle the economic and social impacts from the coronavirus crisis and support the green and digital transition.
The Health Cluster is also related to the need for a digitalised health care system, with the establishment of the European Electronic Health Records as well and the European Health Data Space. Both actions will contribute to more personalised and effective health services, to less resource wasting and ultimately to a climate-neutral continent by 2050, with zero pollution and zero waste, one of the main goals in Europe.
For better results, during this cluster’s implementation, a number of synergies and cooperations have to be established, namely among health care professionals providers and payers, public health authorities and regulators, researchers or innovators from academia and industry. Additionally, the Emergency preparedness and Response Authority (EU-HERA), a newly created agency created by the E.U., aims to build stronger common preparedness and response among E.U. countries. Finally, a number of common activities with other EU funding programmes, like the EU4Health, Digital Europe Programme (DEP), InvestEU, European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), European Social Fund (ESF+) and Structural Reform Support Programme (SRSP), will help develop best practices in the health care systems, industries and markets, at national or regional level.
The 6 Destinations or impacts of the Health Cluster:
All investments and projects made under Cluster 1 are expected to achieve the following six impacts or the so called destinations of this work programme:
- Staying healthy in a rapidly changing society
- Living and working in a health-promoting environment
- Tackling diseases and reducing disease burden
- Ensuring access to innovative, sustainable and high-quality health care
- Unlocking the full potential of new tools, technologies and digital solutions for a healthy society
- Maintaining an innovative, sustainable and globally competitive health-related industry
Some facts & figures | Projects, participants & funding under Cluster HEALTH of the Horizon Europe
About the funding of the projects under Cluster Health (that belongs in the Pillar II: “Global Challenges & European Industrial Competitiveness”), we can see that the Net EU contribution is €977,8 million, with the total cost reaching €1,38 billion, 111 signed grants in total for 2021 and 2022 and with 1.785 organisations participating in them. The 4 top participating countries in terms of the number of participants are in this order: Spain, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands. The top three participants in terms of the NET EU contribution are in this order: The Coalition for epidemic preparedness innovation from Norway, the Agence nationale de sécurité sanitaire de l’alimentation, de l’environnement et du travail from France and the Umwelt Bundesamt from Germany. Finally, we see that during 2021, 9 grants were signed, while in 2022, there were 102 grants signed.
Cyprus’ financing on Cluster Health
Concerning the projects funded under this Cluster about Health, Cyprus is coming in the 23d position in terms of the number of participants. The Net EU contribution is €2,65 million, with the total cost reaching €2,89 million, 9 signed grants in total for 2021 and 2022 and with 11 organisations participating in them.