Horizon 2020 provides grants to research and innovation projects through open and competitive calls for proposals. Legal entities from any country are eligible to submit project proposals to these calls. The programme consists of three main research areas that are called "pillars":
The first pillar is "Excellent Science" (funding basic science). Amongst others, this pillar funds Future and Emerging Technologies; researcher mobility and large European research infrastructures.
The second pillar is "Industrial Leadership", consisting of six sub-programmes, one of them being focused on space. Some technologies are labelled key enabling technologies (KET), such as photonics. This pillar contains specific initiatives for SME funding and also provides risk financing (€2.8 billion) e.g. through loans of the European Investment Bank.
The third pillar funds potential solutions to social and economic problems, which are referred to as "Societal challenges". One of those societal challenges is “Climate action, environment, resource efficiency, and raw materials”, which is then divided into the following five sub-programmes:
- Climate Action - Informed decisions for a climate-resilient low-carbon society
- Cultural Heritage - Engaging a new cultural heritage agenda for economic growth
- Earth Observations - Crucial info on climate, energy, natural hazards and other societal challenges
- Nature-Based Solutions - Providing viable solutions of natural ecosystems
- Systemic Eco-Innovation - Generating and sharing economic and environmental benefits
Within this pillar, sub-programmes Climate Action and Earth Observations are the ones that present the greatest opportunities for photonics environmental monitoring.
Ongoing Horizon 2020 calls can be monitored on the European Commission’s Research and Innovation Participant Portal, which is available here.
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