"Horizon 2020" is the 8th framework programme of the European Union for research and innovation, which will be open from 2014 to 2020. It replaced the 7th Framework Programme for Research, which covered the period 2007-2013.

"Horizon 2020" is the largest Framework Programme for Research and Innovation in the history of EU by its seven-year budget worth almost 80 billion EUR, which is almost 30 billion EUR more than the previous period. The majority of the financial resources will be granted on a competitive basis, but the budget of the "Horizon 2020" includes also funding for the Joint research center of the European Commission; the European Institute of Innovation and Technology and for research in the EURATOM Treaty.

"Horizon 2020" is open to all. Application procedures will be simpler than they used to be. This approach that highlights the essence of the project, not the form of application, ensures rapid startup of new projects, and therefore visible results. The rules have been drawn up so as to ensure fairness, to protect participants and ensure proper use of public funds.

Eligible applicants:

  • For standard research projects - groups of at least three legal entities. Any person must be established in an EU Member State or associated country.
  • For other programmes such as the European Research Council (ERC), the SME instrument, programs of national public sector, coordination and support, training and mobility - the minimum requirement for participation is the organization to be a legal entity established in a Member State or associated country.

Instrument for SME

Through Instrument for SMEs, as part of the 8th EU Framework Programme for research and innovation, the European Union wants to fund the most innovative small businesses that have high growth potential. With a budget of 3 billion EUR it offers grants for feasibility studies of business innovations (phase 1) and demonstration projects (phase 2) in a fast and simple way. In addition, companies with ideas on stage investments may benefit from consultancy for business development and other support services (Phase 3).

EUROSTARS is a joint initiative of EUREKA and the European Commission (EC) under the 7th Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development (FP7). Its aim is to provide funding for market-oriented research and experimental development with the active participation of small and medium-sized enterprises engaged in research and development activities.

EUROSTARS programme provides an opportunity for joint national and European funding for international research projects. The requirement for application is least two legal entities from different Member States to participate in the project and the leading partner to be a "small or medium-sized enterprise operating in the field of research and development."

EUROSTARS supports rapid development of marketable innovative products, processes and services that help improve the daily lives of people around the world. This is the perfect first step in international cooperation, which allows small businesses to combine and share experiences and benefit from working across national boundaries.

EUROSTARS is a joint program between EUREKA and the European Commission, co-funded by national budgets of the 34 participating countries and partner countries and the European Union through Horizon 2020. In 2014-2020, the program has a total budget of € 1.14 billion.

COSME is a programme for the Competitiveness of SMEs in the EU. The programme budget for the period 2014-2020 is 2.3 bln. EUR, from which almost 1.4 billion EUR are allocated for loans and risk capital that can be supplemented by national financial instruments for SMEs.

COSME Programem builds on the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Programme, active in the period 2007-2013, with the exception of some innovative activities that will be supported by the program "Horizon 2020".

In the Programme’s scope are four (4) areas of support:

  • Improving the access to financial resources for SMEs in the form of equity and debt instruments;
  • Improving the market access for SMEs globally;
  • Improving the framework conditions for the competitiveness of enterprises;
  • Promoting entrepreneurship.
  • COSME aims to facilitate small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in gaining access to financial support in all phases of their life cycle - creation, expansion and business transfer. Thanks to the support of EU enterprises have easier access to guarantees, loans and equity.

COSME mechanisms to provide better access to finance for SMEs

Loan guarantee mechanism– this mechanism will provide guarantees and counter-guarantees to financial institutions (guarantee companies, banks, leasing companies), so they more loans and lease financing for small and medium enterprises can be allocated. It is expected that COSME will enable between 220,000 and 330,000 companies to obtain funding amounting to between 14 and 21 billion EUR.

Capital Mechanism for Growth, through which risk capital will be provided to private equity funds investing in SMEs mainly through the stages of expansion and growth. Thanks to this mechanism between 360 and 560 businesses will be able to obtain equity investments for a total amount of 2.6 to 4 billion EUR.

COSME to support internationalization and access to markets

The Programme finances the "Enterprise Europe Network" (EEN) which consists of over 600 offices in more than 50 countries and supports of SMEs in finding partners, in familiarization with the EU legislation and in obtaining access to EU funding.

COSME finances the development of information sites and portals designed to support enterprises by providing information and raising awareness. Examples of this are the business web portal "Your Europe" and the portal or internationalization of SMEs. The first one provides practical information for entrepreneurs who want to establish an enterprise in another Member State. The second one focuses on measures supporting enterprises that want to establish connections to countries outside Europe.

The Programme provides help desks to SMEs, advice and support on issues of intellectual property rights in countries outside the EU, as well.

COSME supports and Centre for Industrial Cooperation between the EU and Japan. The Centre’s aim is to promote all forms of industrial, commercial and investment cooperation through dissemination of information on the access to the Japanese market. It facilitates the exchange of experience and know-how between EU and Japan.

Clusters in the EU can also could take advantage of the opportunities provided by COSME. Special attention is paid to the cross-sector cooperation, especially to emerging industries, digitalization of the business sector and to promotion of e-skills and leadership.

Promoting the entrepreneurial culture

The Programme includes a number of activities within the "Entrepreneurship 2020" plan. Some of them are intra-mobility programmes, research, dissemination of best practices and pilot projects in areas such as training for entrepreneurs, mentoring or guidance and support services for new and perspective entrepreneurs, including those in youth and old age, and women entrepreneurs.

An example is the "Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs" Programme, which supports new and future entrepreneurs to acquire the necessary skills for managing and developing businesses by working with an experienced entrepreneur in another country for a period of one to six months.

COSME is specifically aimed at digital entrepreneurship using optimally the opportunities provided by digital technologies, thus ensuring its competitiveness and growth.

Eligible beneficiaries:

  • active small and medium companies
  • future entrepreneurs (including young people)
  • national, regional and local authorities

LIFE 2014-2020 program is divided into two sub-programs:

  1. Sub-programme for Environment with three priority areas:
    • Environment and resource efficiency;
    • Nature and Biodiversity;
    • Management and information related to environment.
  2. Sub-programme for Climate Actions:
    • Mitigation of the climate change;
    • Adaptation to the climate change;
    • Management and information related to the climate change.

Beneficiaries could be public and private organizations.

The budget of the LIFE+ Programe for the period 2014 to 2020 is 3,457 billion EUR

a) 2,592 billion EUR shall be allocated to to the Sub-programme for Environment;

b) 864 million EUR shall be allocated to the Sub-program for Climate Actions.

The financial resources for projects from Bulgaria amount to 3.04% of the total Programme’s budget.

Special attention will be paid to transnational projects involving cooperation between organizations from different countries.

The new EU program for education, training, youth and sport "Erasmus +" was launched in 2014.

"Erasmus +" supports activities in the field of: education, higher education, vocational education and training, adult education, youth sector.

Erasmus + merges seven old programmes: "Lifelong Learning" ("Erasmus", "Leonardo da Vinci", "Comenius", "Grundtvig", "Study visits '), "Youth in Action", "Erasmus Mundus", "Tempus", "Alpha", "Edulink" and the Programme of bilateral cooperation with industrialized countries. This ensures an integrated approach for effective interaction between all sectors in the field of education, training, youth and sport.

The new Programme also aims to build strong partnerships between education and business, while boosting employment, with special emphasis on combating youth unemployment.

Erasmus + will support transnational partnerships between institutions and organizations working in the field of education, training and youth.

In the field of sport the Programme will support projects for mass sport and for combating cross-border challenges such as arranging meetings, doping, violence and racism.

Total budget 14,7 billion EUR
Participants Over 4 million people
High education Around 2 million people
Vocational training Around 650 000 students
Staff mobility Around 800 000 lecturers, teachers, instructors, workers in the educational field and youth workers
Schemes for volunteerism and youth exchanges Over 500 000 young people
Loan guarantees for master studies Over 200 000 students
Joint master studies Over 25 000 students
Strategic partnerships Around 25 000 partnerships, connecting 125 000 schools, Institutions for vocational training and education, high schools, institutions for adult education, youth organizations and enterprises
Alliances of knowledge Over 150 alliances, established by 1500 high schools and enterprises
Sector alliances of skills Over 150 alliances, established by 2000 institutions in the field of professional education and training and enterprises