CMAST: Horizon Europe – looking at the future or building on the past?


As an integral part of the Multiannual Financial Framework for 2021-2027, the European Commission has outlined the budget and structure for the 9th Framework Programme, Horizon Europe, which is said to be the most ambitious Research and Innovation Programme to date.

Horizon Europe’s Budget

While the overall long-term EU budget is set to be agreed upon in 2019, the proposal for the R&D and Innovation Programme has not only been given a face, Horizon Europe, but also a body. The proposed €100 billion programme is divided into three pillars – open science, global challenges and industrial competitiveness, and open innovation.

A short breakdown:

  • Open science (€25.8 billion): spending on the European Research Council, Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions and research infrastructures.
  • Global challenges and industrial competitiveness (€52.7 billion): spending on health; inclusive and secure societies; digital and industry; climate, energy and mobility; food and natural resources; and on the Joint Research Centre (performing in-house research).
  • Open innovation (€13.5 billion): spending on the European Innovation Council and the European Institute of Innovation and Technology.

Next to these overarching pillars, €2.1 billion is to be spent on poorer-performing EU countries (to share excellence and to reform and enhance the research and innovation system), €3.5 billion is set aside for a new investment fund (InvestEU) governed by the European Investment Bank and €2.4 billion is going to Euratom nuclear research - totaling the €100 billion budget for the Framework Programme.

What’s new?

While building on the success factors of previous programmes, the Commission has introduced several new features:

  1. New structures and rules
    • The European Innovation Council – a one-stop shop to bring the most promising high potential and breakthrough technologies from lab to market application, and help the most innovative start-ups and companies scale up their ideas.
    • Streamlining the number of partnerships with industry, civil society and funding foundations. Simpler and fewer legal varieties of public-private partnerships should improve the overall coherence and readability of the research and innovation infrastructure under the umbrella term ‘European Partnership Initiatives’.
  2. A bottom-up approach linking the EU with its citizens
    • New EU-wide Research and Innovation missions – clear goals tackling issues that affect our daily life.
      Examples: finding a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, and creating zero-carbon boats.
    • More openness – requiring open access to publications and data, and sharing information among all stakeholders.
  3. Increased collaboration
    • Doubling the support for member states lagging behind, aiming to maximize the innovation potential across the EU.
    • New rules for non-EU countries to access EU funds. All countries with excellent research and innovation capacities should now be able to access EU funds.


Horizon 2020 is one of Europe's biggest success stories. The new Horizon Europe programme aims even higher. As part of this, we want to increase funding for the European Research Council to strengthen the EU's global scientific leadership, and reengage citizens by setting ambitious new missions for EU research. We are also proposing a new European Innovation Council to modernise funding for ground-breaking innovation in Europe.
Carlos Moedas – Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation


The Commission has clearly sought a middle ground between evolution and revolution. Carlos Moedas’ statement emphasizes the increase of funding and the modernization of structures. It’s a pragmatic answer to earlier calls from stakeholders to simplify the access to grants and to increase the budget significantly (a budget plan of 160 billion was on the table).

The proposal has fueled new discussions on how the EU should organize its research and innovation infrastructure in order to:

  • remain competitive
  • be a leader in areas like infectious diseases and the circular economy
  • stimulate inclusive and resilient societies
  • increase sustainable growth and reduce inequality.

Like all EU decisions, this proposal will be the subject of several negotiation rounds and will need unanimous agreement from the EU’s member countries and consent from the Parliament before final adoption.

We keep a close eye on any further developments and we will send updates as soon as they are available!


What CMAST can offer

Perception of this proposal is a key factor to analyze the future output of this programme. At CMAST, we aim to bridge the values of all relevant stakeholders and foster research and innovation by offering consultancy, project management and tangible business solutions in a portfolio of areas.

Additionally, we can support you in establishing EU consortia and applying for grants.


CMAST is a leading consultancy and project management company in life sciences.

With a team of more than 90 industry experts, CMAST provides support to pharma and life sciences companies, universities and research institutes.

The company offers consultancy, project management and tangible business solutions in the following areas:

  • Early stage innovation services
  • Funding services
  • Project & Portfolio Management
  • R&D process optimization
  • Multi-stakeholder collaborations
  • Regulatory compliance & quality
  • Health data analytics & visualization
  • Supply chain

CMAST is headquartered in Temse (Belgium) and has branches in Germany, Poland and the US. Since 2018 CMAST is part of Modis Life Sciences, a subdivision of The Adecco Group, which gives the company a global reach.

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