European funding for
health research

European funding for health research

In 2018 the Commission proposed an ambitious research and innovation programme of almost €100 billion – Horizon Europe (HE) – to succeed Horizon 2020, for the period 2021-2027. The HE programme is based on three pillars, and within Pillar II there are 6 clusters, the first of which is dedicated to Health.

The objective of this Health cluster is to achieve a more climate neutral and green Europe, fit for the digital age, and in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Through the implementation of these measures, a number of impacts are to be achieved, among them:

  • Protecting, and improving the health of EU citizens, by preventing diseases throughout the life course.
  • Supporting equal access to modern, effective and safe healthcare for all EU citizens, by promoting better, safe and affordable health technologies; promoting new digital health tools and solutions.
  • Fostering a more innovative, sustainable and competitive healthcare industry.
  • Improving the efficiency, accessibility and sustainability of European health systems.
  • Better consideration of environmental factors for health and well-being.
  • Better control of communicable and non-communicable diseases (including faster response to epidemic threats) and reduction of the associated social burden. To address these challenges, the Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Authority, HERA, the new EU authority for health emergency preparedness and response (such as COVID-19 and its new variants) is established.

These 6 expected impacts translate into 6 missions:

  • Staying healthy in a rapidly changing society.
  • Living and working in a health-promoting environment.
  • To tackle disease and reduce the burden of disease.
  • Ensure access to innovative, sustainable and high quality healthcare.
  • Unlock the full potential of new tools, technologies and digital solutions for a healthy society.
  • Maintain an innovative, sustainable and globally competitive healthcare industry.


It aims to save more than 3 million lives by 2030. To this end, it acts in 5 areas of intervention: Knowledge, Prevention, Diagnosis and Treatment, Quality of Life, Equitable Access and Cross-cutting Actions through 13 recommendations for action. It has a total budget of €4 billion.

It has Topics open to cancer research when not excluded, and 2 specific Topics:

  • HORIZON HLTH 2021 DISEASE 04 01 Improved supportive palliative survivorship and end of life care of patients.
  • HORIZON HLTH 2021 CARE 05 02 Data driven decision support tools for better health care delivery and policy making with a focus on cancer;
  • In addition to the Research Infrastructures (Pillar I) programme EOSC FAIR Data and DataSharing and Use of RI for cancer mission and personalised medicine
  • Digital Europe Cancer Imaging Programme
  • CSA Preparing UNCAN eu a European initiative to better understand cancer.

To this end, it proposes new initiatives in the form of Institutionalised Partnerships (Art. 187; 2021). Partnerships can be Co-programmed (based on contractual agreements), Co-funded (based on a joint programme agreed by the partners), or Institutionalised (based on a long-term dimension and need for integration), based on commitments from the partners through financial contribution (transnational calls for projects), or in-kind (in-kind) (institutional funding).

These include:

EU-Africa Global Health (2021):

Reducing the burden of infectious diseases in sub-Saharan Africa, improving its R&I capacity and preparedness and response, increasing health security, and in particular in an environmental and climate change context, reducing risks of outbreaks, pandemics and antimicrobial resistance. Its precursor in H2020 was EDCTP. It also involves the participation of: UK, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, WellcomeTrust, GSK, J&J. It is expected to be launched in Q3-Q4, 2021.

Innovative health (initiative) (2021):

Prevention, diagnosis, treatment and management of diseases, through knowledge and innovations, to meet unmet public health needs, in order to achieve a globally competitive European health industry. Its precursor in H2020 was IMI. It has a total budget of €2.4 billion from the EC, industry associations (COCIR, EFPIA, EuropaBio, MedTecheurope, VaccinesEurope), and others (philanthropy, third countries, other industries).

It aims to foster the development of safe, effective, people-centred and cost-effective innovations. It aims to develop new tools, data, platforms, technologies and processes to improve disease prediction, prevention, interception, diagnosis, treatment and management, harnessing the full potential of digitisation and data sharing in healthcare. For its implementation, open calls will be issued following HE rules, either in one phase, or in two (IMI-type), which are planned to be launched in the last quarter of 2021 or early 2022.

Among the areas of action it wants to address, the following stand out:

  • Leveraging advances and synergies in genetics, biology and technology for less invasive, more accurate and effective prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care.
  • Developing integrated, patient-centred products and services across the entire healthcare continuum.
  • Applying Big Data and advanced analytics/artificial intelligence to enable research, development and business opportunities.
  • Empowering citizens and patients to engage with, manage and improve their health.
  • Strengthening value-based decision making in health and social care systems.

Chemical Risk Assessment (2021-2022):

Aims at better risk assessment, in order to protect human health and the environment. Its precursor in H2020 was HBM4EU. It is scheduled to start in 2022.

Health and Care Systems (2021-2022):

Sourcing, transferring, and adopting cost-efficient solutions for health and care systems. Its precursor in H2020 was the AAL Programme, EIO ON AHA, and ToReach.

ERA for Health (2021-2022):

Effective coordination of EU funders of R&D&I in health, with flexible programming, to ensure a transition to more sustainable, resilient, innovative, high quality and people-centred Health Systems. Its objectives are to provide R&I actions to fill knowledge gaps, produce evidence and develop guidance for such transformation; develop new solutions for health in priority areas of common interest to sustain population health; strengthen the R&I community in European health systems; improve the capacity of healthcare stakeholders to adopt innovative solutions, including organisational, service and policy solutions; and establish a platform for coordinating and connecting relevant actors to develop ecosystems that enable rapid scaling and transfer of successful innovations across health systems. Its precursor in H2020 was ERA-NETs.

Personalised Medicine (2023-2024):

Aims to realise a shift in the focus of health systems towards sustainable, data-intensive healthcare. Its precursor in H2020 was ICPerMed.

Rare diseases (2023-2024):

Development of diagnostics and treatments, for greater impact and uptake of results. Its precursor in H2020 was EJP RD.

One Health/AMR (2023-2024):

Aims to contribute to EU and WHO objectives to reduce the threat of multidrug-resistant microorganisms (MRL). Its precursor in H2020 was jpiamr.

Pandemic Preparedness:

Aims to improve EU preparedness to prevent, predict and respond to epidemics/pandemics, through the development of a Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda (SRIA), to be aligned with the future HERA.

Within the Health programmes, the grant obtained by Spain is 393.1 M€ over the period 2014-2021, with the participation of 415 R&D&I activities, being coordinators in 100 (14.2% of the total), placing it as the 5th country by return of the EU 28, with 10.2%.

Euro-Funding offers strategic consultancy services to promote the positioning of public and private entities in the European innovation ecosystem, both in terms of return of funds and participation in projects and interest groups.



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