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Research funding within Horizon 2020 is conducted through a series of different project types, which partly differ considerably with regard to the funding governance. As an underlying principle, the European Commission gradually externalises the operational funding business over the decades: With increasing frequency, the European Commission devolves funding activities upon external bodies, instead of acting as the funding body itself. For Horizon 2020, the share of the externalised budget is supposed to rise up to 80%. This leads to the following classifications with regard to Horizon 2020:   

Funding through the European Commission

In these cases, applications for funding are submitted to the European Commission, and it is the Commission who will organise the evaluation, grant funding, audit the projects and who is in charge of accounting. Under Horizon 2020, such cases will be an exception; the implementation of the parts "Science with and for Society" and "Widening Participation", for example, will probably remain under the control of the Commission.

Funding through so-called Executive Agencies of the European Commission

Within these procedures, the executive funding bodies are legally independent "spin-offs" of the Commission, which finance and implement the projects. Under FP7, such executive agencies have been established in the programmes ERC and MSCA in particular. Horizon 2020 foresees up to five executive agencies, which will also be in charge of great parts of the collaborative research.

Public-Private Partnerships (PPP)

In the context of Horizon 2020, the keyword "P2B" (Public to Business) describes several funding opportunities regarding the cooperation between academia and industry. Basically, two different structures can be subsumed under this concept:

  • So-called Contractual PPPs (see also Communication from the Commission and cPPP in Horizon 2020, Okt. 2015) , which are based on a contractual agreement between a public body and the private sector; their (mostly application-related) research topics are funded via regular calls for proposals in the Work Programmes of the European Commission.
  • So-called Institutional PPPs; these PPPs are so-called Joint Undertakings (JU), legally independent entities lead by industry with an extensive regulatory and budgetary autonomy. Joint Undertakings distribute funding from the public bodies and industry through their own application procedures. The most relevant example are the so-called Joint Technology Initiatives (JTI).