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Societal Challenges

Under Horizon 2020, research and innovation funding is oriented towards societal needs. Smart investments are of crucial importance for tackling urgent societal challenges such as climate change, an ageing population or resource scarcity. Therefore, part III of Horizon 2020 focuses on seven so-called "Societal Challenges" which provide the framework for research and innovation project funding.

  1. Health, Demographic Change and Well-being
  2. Food Security, Sustainable Agriculture, Marine and Maritime Research and the Bio-economy
  3. Secure, Clean and Efficient Energy
  4. Smart, Green and Integrated Transport
  5. Climate Action, Environment, Resource Efficiency and Raw Materials
  6. Europe in a Changing World - Inclusive, Innovative and Reflective Societies
  7. Secure Societies – Protecting Freedom and Security of Europe and its Citizens

The objective is to meet the urging societal challenges by achieving scientific and technological breakthroughs. Funding opportunities for the development of innovative products and services shall encourage enterprises to participate in Horizon 2020. Next to R&D, mainly innovation-related activities shall be funded (development and demonstration activities, for example). Funding of public tenders (public procurement) or of marketing activities will also be possible.

Broad, interdisciplinary approaches shall also contribute to meet the societal challenges. Therefore, as in the Specific Programme "Cooperation" in the Seventh Framework Programme, inter- and transdisciplinary collaborative research projects will be funded, integrating contributions from the social sciences and humanities. Horizon 2020 will additionally implement further funding instruments.

The European Commission’s Strategic Programme proposal for Horizon 2020 provides the participation of  European Technology Platforms (ETP‘s) and European Innovation Partnerships (EIP‘s) in selecting topics for the calls within Part III "Societal Challenges".

In several areas of Part III "Societal Challenges", project funding is provided within the scope of Public-Private Partnerships (Joint Technology Initiatives (JTIs) according to Art. 187), bringing together private R&D-investments and fundings from Horizon 2020. Additional project funds by the Member States will be provided on the basis of Public-Public Partnerships (according to  Art. 185).