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Funding programs Cohesion Policy and Horizon2020

In the negotiations on the budget for the new programming period (2014-2020) of the European Union 2 issues are of particular interest to EU cities and metropolitan areas: Cohesion Policy and Horizon 2020. It is now time for cities to prepare and align in view of funding opportunities in both the ERDF and research (Horizon 2020). Developing a ‘smart specialisation’ strategy is the key for cities in synergizing Cohesion Policy and Horizon 2020.

Synergies Horizon 2020 and Cohesion Policy: closing the innovation divide

The following similarities and linkages exist between Cohesion Policy and Horizon 2020:

  • Both Cohesion Policy and Horizon 2020 share the same programming period of 7 years (2014-20), which makes it easier to synchronise funding and realise better planning for synergies
  •  Both share the same strategic goals of serving the Europe 2020 strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth
  • There is a possibility to combine Cohesion Policy and Horizon2020 funding in the same project, which opens the way to combined funding of individual Horizon 2020 projects
  • The key instrument to maximising the synergies with Horizon 2020 and Cohesion Policy is the development of research and innovation strategies (RIS3) for smart specialisation. These strategies are critical for approval of the R&I elements of the Partnership Contracts and the Operational Programmes


Cities and the synergies of Cohesion Policy and Horizon 2020: Smart Specialisation is key

As indicated, all cities and regions need to prepare a ‘smart specialisation strategy’ as a condition for approval of the Research & Innovation elements of the national Partnership Contracts and Operational Programmes of Cohesion Policy 2014-2020. These are strongly synergized with Horizon 2020. To make the claim for EU funding in 2014-2020 stronger cities and metropolitan areas can already prepare to:

  • Make a ‘smart specialisation strategy’
  • The strategy design should also involve local stakeholders such as universities and higher education institutions, local industry, research and technology centres, development and innovation agencies, social partners etc.
  • The Smart Specialisation Platform established by the European Commission, offers analytical and hands-on support to the development of these strategies.


EMI, Horizon 2020 and Cohesion Policy

EMI is actively finding synergies between urban research and urban practice (‘research-based, practice-led’). Therefore, EMI supports the more direct synergy between Horizon 2020 and Cohesion Policy. EMI does, however, advise to focus more on ‘practice-oriented’ research which is directly relevant in European cities and metropolitan areas. As regards ‘smart specialisation’, EMI has developed a Knowledge and Research Agenda on this subject with concrete examples from Poznan, Bucharest, Munich and Madrid.


About Horizon 2020 and Cohesion Policy

  • Horizon 2020 is the new 80 billion euro EU research funding programme (2014-2020). Horizon 2020 focusses on scientific excellence, industrial leadership and societal challenges. The centralized programme will be directed at EU level and the planning is short-term (every 1-2 years). There is no pre-defined geographical distribution of funding and projects have a transnational perspective.

  • Cohesion Policy has the purpose to stimulate regional socio-economic development in Europe. Cohesion Policy programmes are designed in shared management with national/regional authorities with a long-term perspective (3-7 years). The projects mainly involve actors from one Member State or region. In the cohesion policy proposals for 2014-2020 the thematic objective of Research & Innovation is part of the minimum 80%-concentration for ERDF-funds in more developed regions and 50 % in less developed regions. The proposals for 2014-2020 also include a stronger urban dimension of cohesion policy.