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Current EU Funding Instruments

Major opportunities to get your research project off the ground

Grants and Tenders

Grants and tenders are the two main funding mechanisms.

These are the most commonly used funding mechanism for the so-called 'EU projects' where typically a consortium of project partners respond to calls (for proposals).

Upon selection, the EU provides a grant or reimbursement for the eligible costs incurred during the project’s life cycle.

Several types of grants exist, but generally, there are:

  • Operating grants to fund the operating costs of an EU body
  • Direct grants between the EU and international organisations, i.e. the World Health Organisation (WHO)
  • Joint actions or co-financed projects between the EU and Member States’ authorities
Each year a work plan sets out the type of funding for each action and the basic principle is joint funding, co-funding whereby the EU assumes a certain percentage of overall costs.

 Public Procurement for Specific Contracts

These are public contracts, issued by EU institutions, to purchase specified operational services, goods or support, i.e. studies, training, conference organisation and IT equipment are all awarded under these contracts.

Tenders Electronic Daily (TED) provides free access to EU and Member States’ calls.

Direct link to calls by specific EU institutions, agencies and other bodies here:

 TED - Calls from EU Institutions

Direct link to calls from Member States here:

TED - Calls from EU Member States

Horizon 2020

Presently, the EU provides almost €80 billion in funding for research (2014-2020), mainly through its flagship research programme Horizon 2020. It is the most substantial EU research and innovation programme and focuses on bringing promising ideas from the laboratory to the market. 

It provides resources to encourage innovative small firms, fund blue-sky research and bring together different fields of science and technology. Therein, it aims to solve some of society’s biggest challenges, from ageing populations to the need for clean energy and ensuring overall long-term economic competitiveness.

More about Horizon 2020

Under the Horizon 2020 pillar Excellent Science, funding is focused on certain actions or areas. Notably, those of most interest for the medical and cardiology community are grants falling under Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) and the European Research Area (ERC).

Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA)

These are grants, under Horizon 2020, are intended for researchers from doctoral to highly-experience researchers. They empower research-focused organisations to host foreign researchers and create synergy with prominent institutions across the globe. Institutions can range from public to private and academic to non-academic.

The 2018-2020 Work Programme gives details on focus areas that will be addressed in upcoming calls. Specific calls for proposals are published here.

European Research Area (ERC)

Also funded under Horizon 2020, the European Research Council, set up by the EU in 2007, is the prime European funding organisation for excellent frontier research. Every year, it selects and funds the very best, creative researchers of any nationality and age, to run projects in Europe. The ERC has three core grant schemes: Starting Grants, Consolidator Grants and Advanced Grants. An additional funding scheme, Synergy Grants, was re-introduced in 2017.

The annual work programmes can be found here. Specific calls for proposals are published here.


ERA-CVD is a Horizon 2020-funded network (ERA-NET) focusing on cardiovascular research to promote the European Research Area (ERA). It aims to coordinate national programmes for cardiovascular translational research and includes 24 international partners from 19 countries. ERA-CVD provides a platform to implement Joint Transnational Calls (JTC) to fund excellent and innovative research consortium.

For the first two JTC (2016 and 2017) altogether 24 consortia are funded with around €22 million for three years. Furthermore, ERA-CVD provides practical information on upcoming calls and support tools to facilitate partnership building in writing and submitting transnational proposals. ERA-CVD also supports young researchers' outstanding scientific publications through its Excellent Paper in Cardiovascular Research Award (EPAC).

Access the annually released Joint Transnational Call for Proposals.

Third EU Health Programme (2014-2020)

 The Third Health Programme (2014-2020), originally coined “Health for Growth”, is a funding instrument with a current budget of €449.11 million.

It works to foster health in Europe by encouraging cooperation between Member States to improve the health policies that benefit their citizens. The programme aims to support and complement EU Member State health initiatives and has four objectives:

  • Promote health and prevent diseases
  • Protect against cross-border health threats
  • Contribute to innovative, efficient and sustainable health systems
  • Facilitate access to high quality and safe healthcare

The EU agency, Consumers, Health, Agriculture and Food Executive Agency (Chafea) opens calls for proposals and makes grant agreement payments. National Focal Points (NFPs) can provide additional support for applicants and work to disseminate information about opportunities.

Funding is available through calls for proposals that bring a high “European added value”, or in other words, presenting models or mechanisms that can be applied from the local to the EU-levels. Below are some identified areas that can aid focus to project ideas:

  • Implementing EU legislation
  • Efficient use of funds and better services for citizens
  • Promoting best practices
  • Using results as a benchmark for future decision-making
  • Focusing on cross-border threats
  • Ensuring high quality care for citizens moving from one EU Member State to another
  • Disseminating results through networking


Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI)

The Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) is Europe's largest public-private initiative aiming to speed up the development of better and safer medicines for patients. For the IMI2 programme (2014-2020), the total budget is €3.276 billion, whereby about half originates from Horizon 2020 and the other half from the support of EFPIA.

IMI supports collaborative research projects and builds networks of industrial and academic experts in order to boost pharmaceutical innovation in Europe.

IMI is a joint undertaking between the European Union and the pharmaceutical industry association European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA).

IMI2 Programme (2014-2020)

Before the launch of calls for proposals, topics are agreed upon to address specific issues aligned with IMI’s objectives.

To allow potential grant applicants time to create their consortia and draft proposals, IMI publishes topic lists several weeks before the launch of the actual open calls.

 More about IMI

Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF)

There are five ESIF funds with a total budget of €647 billion. This grand total includes Member State co-financing.

Funds for period (2014-2020):

  • European Regional Development Fund (ERDF)
  • European Social Fund (ESF)- the Cohesion Fund - Budget (€351.8 billion)
  • European Agricultural Fund for Regional Development (EAFRD)
  • European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF)

These funds are jointly managed by the European Commission and EU Member States. Calls for proposal are published by the individual Member States.

Thematic objectives touching on health-related themes of interest to health are:

  • Research and Innovation
  • Information & Communication Technology (ICT), including e-health
  • Employment and mobility, including Active and Health Ageing (AHA)
  • Social Inclusion, including access to healthcare
  • Education, training and lifelong learning (LLL)
  • Better public administration

The link below provides comprehensive and continuously updated statistics and graphs on finances, payments made to Member States and achievements made under the current ESIF programming period 2014-2020. Explore the data by theme, country or fund:

 ESIF Real-time Statistics

ESC as Consortium Partner

The ESC is a consortium partner in several EU funded projects. If you are intending to request the ESC's involvement in your project, carefully consult the procedure to ensure you are in line with the ESC's requirements. You can also review current EU funded projects in which the ESC is a partner.