Horizon 2020

What is Horizon 2020?

Horizon 2020 is a European Union (EU) grant fund that is part of the EU’s Research and Innovation programme. It was set up with nearly €80 billion of grant funding available over the 7 year period between 2014 and 2020.

What does Horizon 2020 support?

Horizon 2020’s goal is to ensure Europe produces and develops world-class science industries as well as trying to remove barriers to innovation by making it easier for the public and private sectors to work together in driving innovation in the European Union. Horizon 2020 will only invest in technology that will help fulfil this goal.

How is the programme structured?

Horizon 2020’s funding streams are set out in multi-year “work programmes” (designed by the European Commission) and are divided by sector and area of innovation. The funding streams within each work programme are developed to fit within the framework provided by the Horizon 2020 implementing legislation as well furthering EU policy objectives.

What funding is available to the video games industry?

There are no specific video game funding streams within Horizon 2020 and it should be noted that a games business will not be able to obtain investment for a specific game or other digital content. However, if a studio was producing innovative new technology (such as an algorithm, tool or engine) they be may able to receive funds. For example, there were a number of different funding opportunities in the 2016 - 2017 work programme which could have been utilised by a relevant video games business, for example:

  • Cloud Computing could have been used by a game developer who planned on running their game in the cloud and was willing to focus on new developments in cloud computing.
  • Support technology transfer to the creative industries could have been used by developers who were focusing on trying to leverage emerging ICT technologies for the development of innovative products and services with high commercial potential.
  • Tools for smart digital content in the creative industries could have been used by developers who are using new technologies for the production of new content or for the enhancement and (re-)use of already existing digital content of any type.

It should be noted that as the majority of Horizon 2020’s funding comes from the European Union (and it is designed to benefit the European Union), it is unclear as of yet as to whether entities in the UK will be able to benefit from funding once the UK has left the European Union in March 2019. The UK Government has indicated that they will continue to contribute to Horizon 2020 (in order for UK entities to continue to benefit from its funding) but the final decision will only be announced at a date closer to March 2019.

Information on the funding opportunities still open in the 2016 - 2017 work programme can be found here while information on the work programmes available in 2018 – 2020 can be found here.

Eligibility requirements

Each funding opportunity in a work programme has different eligibility requirements. The details of how these will be evaluated can be found on the European Union’s website here. Generally, as Horizon 2020 is designed to help break down barriers between Member States most funding streams require three separate legal entities in separate Member States to apply for funding together.

As well as this, although Horizon 2020 does have a “SME Instrument”, which can grant funding of between €50,000 to €2,500,000 to SMEs who fit the criteria for projects, the funding is generally aimed at entities that own already developed technology as compared to early stage and small companies.

How do you apply?

Applicants need to submit a detailed application form. The application will be evaluated and any funding granted on the strength of the application form only. More information about the application process can be found here.

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