The first set of 33 Space Research grants under Horizon 2020, the EU’s framework programme for research and innovation, has been signed within eight months of the submission deadline - faster than ever before. The eight-month “time to grant” is a new target set by Horizon 2020 rules to speed up the funding process.
For projects to be funded under the first Horizon 2020 calls for proposals, the Space Research programme succeeded in keeping the big promise made under the new rules for Horizon 2020: to sign grant agreements with successful applicants within eight months of the deadline for submitting research proposals.
According to the new rules, the REA was allowed five months, starting on the submission deadline of 26th March, to evaluate the proposals with the help of independent experts and inform the applicants of the outcome. The remaining three months were used for preparing and signing the grant agreement, which involves the delivery of all necessary data and documents. Respecting this tight deadline was made possible thanks to close interaction between the consortia to be funded and the REA staff, as well as by the new and entirely electronic workflow.
The EU support to these new Space Research projects funded under Horizon 2020 was €80 million. The topics covered are ‘to foster a cost-effective competitive and innovative European space industry and research community, and to develop and exploit space infrastructure to meet future Union policy and societal needs’. The EU funding covers up to 100% of the research cost, and activities are coordinated with the programmes of the European Space Agency.
The largest part, €52 million, goes to 24 projects fostering the competitiveness and non-dependence of the European Space sector, space exploration and science as well as international cooperation in space matters and activities involving the general public. €21.5 million EU financial contribution goes to six projects in the Earth observation domain with a focus on climate research. Three projects to protect European assets in and from Space, in particular from space weather and near Earth objects (NEOs) received €8 million of funding. Overall, 16% of the evaluated proposals were successful.
A second Horizon 2020 Space Research call for proposals opened on 4 November 2014, with a budget of €70.5 million and closes on 8 April 2015.