According to the European Commission Horizon 2020 is an international R&D programme and almost all countries are eligible to participate. The programme is open to all “natural bodies”, a term meaning that any legally recognised entity can participate; thus individuals, SMEs, charities, foundations and corporate bodies are all eligible to apply.
So! Everyone worldwide can participate…, but eligibility for funding is a slightly different matter.
Bodies from the member states of the European Union are eligible for funding, as are applicants from Associate States (the countries which have signed an agreement with EU to participate in the Horizon 2020 programme), e.g. Iceland, Switzerland, Israel & Turkey. In addition, applications from “developing states”, such as; Peru, Thailand and South Africa, can be funded in the programme. However, there are a few exceptions, for rogue states, like North Korea. Partners from the U.S.A., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea and China can participate in Horizon 2020, but normally do not receive funding. However, where the developed country partner brings a vital technological contribution, which will benefit the EU, then funding can be awarded. In some technology areas there are bilateral agreements with developed countries on mutual funding within R&D programmes e.g. in healthcare under the bilateral agreement between EU Health and the U.S. NIH, EU participants are funded in the NIH programme and U.S. partners are funded by the EU Health programme.
If eligible, the funding rate applicable is determined by the size of the organisation; SMEs and academia attract a higher rate than corporate entities and it should be noted that 20% of the entire Horizon 2020 budget is reserved for SMEs. The SME definition is critical and some “SMEs” fail to qualify because they are “linked entities”; SMEs that are substantially owned by a company which is not an SME. Some Horizon 2020 schemes offer 100% funding to SMEs, such as the “SME mechanism” Phase 1 and the Pre-Commercial Procurement (PCP) programme.
Are you an SME?
To count as an SME, your company must be engaged in an economic activity and have: fewer than 250 employees and an annual turnover of no more than €50 million and/or an annual balance sheet of no more than €43 million.
Huw Edwards – MSC R&D Ltd. Horizon 2020 Advisor