The Netherlands and Horizon 2020

 The Netherlands and Horizon 2020

Earlier this month Dutch science and technology support organisation Rathenau Instituut published an extensive study to the position of Dutch research, education and industry in the EU Horizon 2020 programme. This article highlights some of the key findings of this study. You can find the full study here (in Dutch).

The Netherlands and Horizon 2020

The European Union (EU) is an important source of income for Dutch researchers. From 2014 to 2019, 12.4% of public research funding came from the European Framework Program for Research Horizon 2020 (H2020). This eighth EU framework program had a total budget of €77 billion for the period 2014-2020. 5 billion euros of this went to the Netherlands. With H2020, the EU is leaving an important mark on the programming and implementation of research in the Netherlands. In 2021, the new Framework Programme, Horizon Europe (HEU), was launched with a budget of 95.5 billion euros for the period 2021-2027. That is an increase of 24% compared to H2020. When we adjust for inflation, an increase of approximately 14% remains. The change of framework program is a good moment to map the participation of the Netherlands in H2020 and to look ahead at the opportunities for the Netherlands in Horizon Europe. We also pay attention to international cooperation, a spearhead of the EU in both H2020 and Horizon Europe.

Horizon 2020 research in the Netherlands
Research in the Netherlands (image: Rathenau Instituut)

In brief

  • The Netherlands received 7.8% of the Horizon 2020 budget for research and innovation. Half of this went to universities.
  • Dutch researchers obtained more money per FTE from Horizon 2020 than researchers from other countries. They are particularly successful in the field of excellent science and research for societal challenges.
  • Relatively few resources end up with the countries that have joined the EU since 2004 (the EU13). They are more dependent on international cooperation for participation

Distribution of Horizon 2020 funding

In August 2021, more than 64 billion euros in research had been funded from H2020. 79% of that money went to researchers within the current European Union (EU), 12% to researchers from the United Kingdom (UK).

85% of the H2020 funding went to the EU14 and the UK. The EU14 are the countries that joined the European Union (EU) before 2004. Until 2020, the UK was also part of this. 86% of European and British researchers were employed in this part of the EU and the UK (in FTE, 2019).

Only 5% of the budget went to the EU13, the countries that joined the EU since 2004. These countries are mainly located in Eastern Europe. This is where 14% of European and British researchers work (in FTE, 2019).

The remaining 10% of the budget went to countries outside the EU. All countries can receive funding from H2020 under certain conditions. A number of countries can participate in the European Framework Programs as associated countries under the same conditions as the Member States. Norway and Switzerland in particular have been participating fully in the framework programs for years. They received 6% of the H2020 budget.

Horizon 2020 is an important source of funding for Dutch researchers

The Netherlands received 5 billion euros in funding from H2020. That is 7.8% of the spent H2020 budget. That share is high. The Netherlands is the sixth recipient of funding from H2020. In no other European country is the available funding per researcher (from the public sector) higher than in the Netherlands. The share of available H2020 funding that the Netherlands received is 1.5 times greater than the relative Dutch contribution to the EU budget over the same period. In this way, the Netherlands is able to derive many benefits from the EU in the field of research and innovation.

On the other hand, European research funding is also very important for Dutch researchers. During the term of H2020, 12.4% of the available public research funding for the Netherlands came from Europe.

Percentage of Horizon 2020 in total public financing of research, 2014-1019 (source: Rathenau Instituut)
Percentage of Horizon 2020 in total public financing of research, 2014-1019 (source: Rathenau Instituut)

Cooperation partners of the Netherlands

There are 4,260 Horizon 2020 projects in which a Dutch partner collaborates with at least one partner from another country. The map below shows the countries with which the Netherlands cooperates in these projects and the frequency of this cooperation. It concerns a total of 137 countries. The intensity of cooperation varies widely. For example, there are countries with which the Netherlands only collaborates on 1 project and also countries with which it collaborates in more than 2,000 projects.

Cooperation with the Netherlands, per country (source: Rathenau Instituut)

In accordance with the distribution of the H2020 budget, the Netherlands cooperates most with dark blue coloured countries; Germany, UK, Italy, Spain and France. Other common partners are coloured dark green in the map, these are Belgium, Sweden, Switzerland, Austria and Greece. Outside of Europe, the Netherlands works most closely with organizations from Israel (365 projects), Turkey (275 projects) and the United States (192 projects).

Looking ahead: Horizon Europe

The data presented in this fact sheet shows that Dutch organizations have successfully participated in Horizon 2020. As a result, the European Framework Programs have become an important source of income for Dutch researchers. During the term of the Horizon 2020 programme, 12% of the total public funding for Dutch research came from the Framework Programme. In addition, Horizon 2020 makes a clear contribution to international cooperation, both within and outside Europe. Despite the efforts of the European Commission, relatively few resources still end up in the youngest member states.

In 2021, the new Framework Programme, Horizon Europe, was launched with a budget of 95.5 billion euros for the period 2021-2027. 90.1 billion euros comes from the regular budget. 5.4 billion euros comes from the NextGenerationEU recovery fund. This recovery fund includes an additional investment of a total of 806.9 billion euros to help Europe emerge stronger, greener and digitally proficient from the corona pandemic.

Compared to Horizon 2020, the budget will increase by 24%: from 77 billion euros to 95.5 billion euros. But when we adjust for inflation, we’re left with an increase of approximately 14%. Given the changed status of the United Kingdom, it is likely that the income that this country acquires from Horizon Europe will decrease compared to Horizon 2020, especially if the country does not sign an association agreement. This will make more resources available to the other Member States. It is not yet possible to determine which countries will benefit most from the research resources that will then become available.

Like Horizon 2020, Horizon Europe has three pillars and some horizontal actions:

  • Excellent science has remained the same as H2020 in terms of its objective: to strengthen European science by investing in groundbreaking research projects and high-quality researchers.
  • Global Challenge and European Industrial Competitiveness: is a combination of the pillars of societal challenges and industrial leadership. Research in this pillar should stimulate research into societal challenges while strengthening Europe’s technological and industrial capacities. New is the introduction of missions.
  • Innovative Europe focuses specifically on promoting innovation.

With these changes, there is a stronger emphasis on innovation and the role of business. At the same time, there is no longer a separate pillar for business. In addition, more attention will be paid to strengthening the participation of the EU13 countries. This budget increases from €0.8 billion in H2020 to €3 billion in HEU.

More about the new Framework Program and the changes compared to H2020 – and European research policy in general – can be found in the Rathenau report on European science and innovation in a new geopolitical playing field (in Dutch).

Space in Horizon Europe

The Horizon funding programmes are an important part of the Groundstation.Space services. We support the Dutch and European space data and data applications industries in finding opportunities for funding.

Check out our Open Calls section to find the Horizon Europe funding that will support YOUR business!

Remco Timmermans

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