Here we will briefly summarize some of the information from the recent ‘In Depth Interim Evaluation of Horizon 2020’ document published by the European Commission on 29th May 2017. The full report can be found here. This document highlights many interesting questions about Horizon 2020, but in this blog we will focus on success rates and distribution of funding. We have highlighted some of the most interesting statistics and figures from the report which makes for some interesting reading.

The strong increase in interest in Horizon 2020 means that demand vastly outstrips supply, leading to oversubscription. An additional EUR 62.4 billion would have been needed to fund all the proposals evaluated as high quality. The average success rate of Horizon 2020 dropped to 11.6 % compared to FP7, which had an overall success rate of proposals of 18.4%.

While the popularity and high demand for parts of the programme show that they are offering support in the right areas, and that only the very best proposals offering scientific excellence are indeed being selected, too much oversubscription could cause disillusionment and dissatisfaction and leave good proposals unfunded and to be resubmitted. As of January 2017 Horizon 2020 attracted 102,076 eligible proposals (requesting funding of EUR 172.8 billion), 45,632 of these were assessed of high quality (44.7% of total eligible proposals); 11,108 grants were signed.

Participants from 131 different countries benefited from Horizon 2020 in the first three years. EU-28 countries receive 92.9% of the funding (91.1% of participations). Associated countries account for 6.5% (7.0% of participations), with Israel and Norway being the most active, whereas third countries had 0.6% of the funding (1.9% of participations).

In total, 87 third countries participate in Horizon 2020, with USA and South Africa being the most active. The share of funding allocated to the EU-13 is 4.4% and 88.5% to EU-15 countries. Germany and the UK receive the largest shares of funding and participations. Participants from the UK coordinate almost 1 out of 5 projects.

Figure 33 shows that the share of high quality proposals receiving funding represents up to 72.8% in Innovation in SMEs and less than 20% under SC6, SWAFS, MSCA and FTI Pilot. This indicates an underfunding of substantial parts of the programme where the current budget supports less than 1 out of 5 high quality proposals.

FET has the lowest rate of high quality proposals funded, where less than 1 out of 10 is retained for funding. According to the FET assessment, whereas stakeholders have repeatedly called for the budget to be increased to match the clear demand and address this issue, the “backloaded” FET budget profile in the last years will also help to alleviate this.

Figure 40 provides an overview of Horizon 2020 cooperation networks between countries based on the number of collaborative projects they participate in. The picture shows a concentration around larger and older Member States such as the UK, Germany, Spain, Italy and France, with Third Countries and newer Member States in the periphery of the network. The figure includes countries with over 20 projects and over 20 collaborations.

We can see from the figures that Horizon 2020 is competitive but offers great opportunity for research funding. Halbert Research provides proposal evaluation services which can help you in preparing a competitive proposal, find out more here.