Pillar II – General information

Pillar II, also called Global Challenges and European Industrial Competitiveness, is part of the Horizon Europe Program. It aims to tackle major global challenges, address Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and promote European industrial competitiveness through research and innovation activities.

Top-Down approach

The Pillar II calls follow the Top-Down approach, meaning that the Commission specifically looks for project(s) which are best suited to tackle the topic-specific challenges described under the different calls. Understanding what the Commission is looking for is key to the development of a successful proposal. Therefore, gather all the background information you can. (Horizon Europe)

Contact grantsoffice@ki.se well in advance to discuss the call you are interested in and your project.

Places to find background information and policies related to the Horizon Europe call of interest:

Collaborative projects 

Collaborative research projects within the Pillar II are complex, often involving many partners from different sectors and disciplines. Because the topics of the calls are Top-down and address specific EU policies, your proposal needs to answer the expected academic, societal, and economic impacts set out by the European Commission. Your consortium should reflect the different expertise needed for a successful implementation of the project. The proposal outline follows a strict form and both the proposal and later project adhere to numerous rules. 

Type of Research Actions and their characteristics

Research and innovation actions (RIA) are multi-beneficiary actions with a minimum of three beneficiaries from three different EU Member States (MS). Projects under this type of action should aim to establish new knowledge or explore a new or improved technology, product, process, service, or solution. Funding rate: Up to 100% of the project eligible costs.

Projects within the Innovation actions (IA) are expected to produce plans or designs for new or improved products, processes, or services. Those projects may include prototyping, testing, demonstrating, piloting, large-scale product validation, or market replication. Funding rate: Up to 100% coverage of eligible costs for academic and non-profit legal entities and up to 70% of the project eligible costs for profit-making legal entities.

The Coordination and support actions (CSA) include projects that facilitate cooperation among EU and associated countries with the goal to strengthen the European Research Area. Areas of interest are standardisation, dissemination, awareness-raising, communication and networking activities, policy dialogues, and mutual learning or studies. Funding rate: Up to 100% of eligible project costs are covered. 

How to find a call and start the application process

Open calls can be found on the European Commission's funding and tender opportunities portal by using the "Search funding and tenders" menu. The portal is also the entry point to application submission and project management. We have listed additional sources and other types of funding on our webpage that could be relevant to your project.

On the Application part A -online forms web page, you will find more information on how to start, register, and submit your proposal at the funding and tender opportunities portal.  

Starting the application process
Part B is the narrative description of the project and is uploaded as a PDF. Download and always use the templates directly from the portal, following the steps described:

  1. Search and open the call of interest in the Funding and Tenders portal.
  2. Read through the call text word by word.
  3. Press “Start submission” at the end of the page and download the template. 
  4. The template is tagged. Do not remove or change those tags!
International collaboration Photo: GettyImages

Building a consortium

Building a successful consortium is key to both application and project. We have collected some tips you may want to consider when planning your consortium.

Depending on the call, the consortium consists of different partners and expertise relevant to the scope of the call. Partners could be private and public actors, end-users and/or representatives from patient groups, scientists, technologists, producers, innovators, businesses, educators, policymakers, or experts in areas of social science, ethics, and communication. Always refer to the call text! 

Depending on their role in the consortium, partners may be included as beneficiaries, affiliated entities, associated partners, or subcontractors. The choice of how you include the partner in the project might affect the consortium budget or the budget of the specific partner. You are welcome to discuss your consortium with us!

Multi-actor approach: Some calls, especially those in Cluster 6, require a multi-actor approach which includes relevant actors with complementary backgrounds and expertise aiming at co-creation, sharing knowledge, best practice, and innovative solutions.

Link to Funding and Tenders Portal: Consortium roles and responsibilities

Minimum requirement for the consortium

Having at least three legal entities from three different EU or associated countries in the project consortium is the minimum requirement for a Pillar II projects. At least one of the three partners must be from an EU country. 

Link to Funding and Tenders Portal: Horizon Europe – Who should apply

Who can participate?

Most countries are eligible to join as a partner, although not all will be eligible to receive funding. Always refer to the call text for additional information and potential exceptions! The European Commission has published a list of participating countries with details about eligibility criteria to receive funding.

Associated partners not eligible for funding

Legal entities from non-EU member states can participate in Horizon Europe projects but will not necessarily receive money. Those partners may instead receive money from their own national funding bodies. Under certain circumstances the European Commission might consider the participation of those partners as essential for implementing the project. Reasons for their participation must be well justified in the proposal and might include:

  • outstanding competence/expertise
  • access to particular research infrastructures 
  • access to particular geographical environments 

Finding partners for your consortium

There are different ways to join a consortium as a partner or, for those aiming to coordinate a consortium, to find missing expertise. The most efficient way could be using and expanding any networks that you and your partner(s)/collaborator(s) currently have. Participating in different events, such as Brokerage events, or using the Partner Search tool on the Funding and Tenders Portal are also ways to find partners. 

KI is both a member of the Crowdhelix network and the leader of one of the topic-focused communities - “Helices”, the COVID 19 helix. All KI employees can set up an account and use the platform. 

For identifying key actors of already funded projects, the EU database Cordis may be useful. Other organisations, for example the Idealist Partner Search from the Horizon Europe digital NCP network, also have tools that are available for everyone.

Another way to attract potential partners is your (social) media presence to increase the visibility of your research and expertise.