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The Future and Emerging Technologies Programme (FET)

The mission of FET is to turn Europe's excellent science base into a competitive advantage. FET actions are expected to initiate radically new lines of technology through unexplored collaborations in science and engineering.

The FET programme has types of actions:

  • FET Open supports early-stage, high-risk/high-gain, collaborative research projects based around new ideas for radically new future technologies. It focuses on cutting-edge science and unconventional collaborations. It also funds coordination and support actions that help such high-risk forward looking research to prosper in Europe.
  • FET Proactive addresses promising directions for research on future technologies in order to build up a European critical mass of knowledge and excellence around them.
  • FET Flagships are science-driven, large-scale, multidisciplinary research initiatives aimed at transformational impacts with substantial benefits for European competitiveness and society.

FET Open targets the unexpected

FET Open is a completely 'bottom-up' funding programme, which allows the applicant consortia complete freedom to chose the area of research. In this way it aims to target the unexpected - identifying promising new areas, developments and trends, wherever they come from. The calls for proposals are therefore entirely non-prescriptive with regards to the nature or purpose of the technologies that are envisaged.

FET Open success rates

FET Open is extremely competitive, particularly the Research and Innovation Actions, and is one of the most over-subscribed parts of H2020. Success rates have however been increasing:

  • 670 proposals were submitted to the first 2015 deadline, with 11 ultimately funded (a success rate of 1.7%).
  • For the final deadline of 2015 there were 800 submitted proposals, of which only 11 were funded (1.4% success rate).
  • For the May 2016 deadline, 22 projects were funded from 544 applications (4% success rate).
  • For the January 2017 deadline, 26 projects were funded from 365 eligible submitted proposals (7.1% success rate).

The Commission changed the budget distribution ahead of the January 2017 deadline; the amount awarded per project is now less (max. 3 million Euro), allowing more projects to be funded. The FET Open budget has also been significantly increased in the 2018-2020 Work Programme, in comparison that from 2014-2017, largely to address the widely-acknowledged oversubscription of the programme. It is therefore expected that the success-rates in FET-Open will continue to increase.

Is FET Open the best programme for your project?

Part of the reason for the high rejection rates in FET Open is that many proposals are submitted without a full understanding of what the programme really is and what is required to succeed.

FET-Open requires excellent science, but the reviewers are also looking for quite specific features in both the research and the consortium. They are not looking for blue-sky research, but it should be high risk and far beyond what would be expected as the next step. It is very important that the consortium is strongly multidisciplinary – much more so that in any other H2020 program – and that you can show there will be synergy and mutual learning between the partners, not just one partner handing over their results to the next. And it must be clear that the research project could lead to a new technology.

These features are the so-called ‘FET-gatekeepers’. If your proposed project does not meet each of the three gatekeeper requirements, it is very unlikely that your application will be successful in FET-Open and another funding programme might be more suitable:

  • Radical vision: the project must address a clear and radical vision, enabled by a new technology concept that challenges current paradigms? Research to advance on the roadmap of a well-established technological paradigm, even if high-risk, will not be funded.
  • Breakthrough technological target: the project must target a novel and ambitious science-to-technology breakthrough as a first proof of concept for its vision? Blue-sky exploratory research without a clear technological objective will not be funded.
  • Ambitious interdisciplinary research for achieving the technological breakthrough and that opens up new areas of investigation. Projects with only low-risk incremental research, even if interdisciplinary, will not be funded.

A short blog article by the head of the FET-Open unit at the EC clarifies what they are looking for in successful applications, and it is well worth reading the full article if you are interested in applying to FET Open.

Applying to FET Open

More specific information on FET Open calls, and all application documents, can be found on the H2020 Funding and Tenders Portal.

Contact Grants Office

For more information, and support in applying to the FET programmes, contact