+ May Australian entities participate in Horizon 2020?

Yes, Australian entities may participate in Horizon 2020 actions, but they are not automatically eligible for funding and will not count towards the minimum number of participants required for a project (refer to the eligibility criteria for each call).

+ Does the Australian Government have a science and technology agreement with the European Union (EU)?

Yes, Australia and the EU signed a treaty-level science and technology agreement in 1994 titled Agreement relating to scientific and technical co-operation between Australia and the European Community.

+ Is Australia an ‘associated country’ to Horizon 2020?

No, Australia is not associated to Horizon 2020. Under Horizon 2020, Australia is considered a ‘non-associated industrialised third country’.

Association is governed by Article 7 of the Horizon 2020 Regulation. Association involves formal participation in the Horizon 2020 programme through a financial contribution to the Horizon 2020 budget and the conclusion of a specific international agreement. Legal entities from associated countries can participate in Horizon 2020 under the same conditions as legal entities from EU member states.

+ Can Australian researchers participate in European Research Council (ERC) calls for proposals?

Since ERC calls are open to researchers of any nationality, individual Australian researchers are eligible to apply for and, if successful, be awarded an ERC grant that is hosted by a legal entity located in an EU member state or an associated country. Australian researchers applying as Principal Investigators for ERC Starting, Consolidator and Advanced Grants must be willing to undertake a significant portion of their research in an EU member state or associated country (i.e. a minimum of 50% of their total working time) during the duration of the ERC grant, even when the time spent on the ERC project is less than this (minimum of 50% for Starting, 40% for Consolidator and 30% for Advanced Grants of their total working time must be spent on the ERC project). The same conditions apply for ERC frontier research grants.

+ European Fellowships

(mobility to and within EU member states and associated countries)

+ Can Australian researchers and entities participate in Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) Individual Fellowships?

MSCA European Fellowships provide support for experienced researchers undertaking mobility to or within EU member states and associated countries. For this reason, Australian entities are not eligible to be a host organisation (beneficiary of the grant) for MSCA European Fellowships.

For an Australian researcher to be eligible for a MSCA European Fellowship, the host organisation for their research project (the beneficiary of the grant) must be established and located in an EU member state or associated country. Researchers restarting their career in an EU member state or associated country may benefit from special eligibility conditions.

Researchers receive support on the condition that they move from one country to another to broaden or deepen their competencies and enhance their employability into the future. During a European Fellowship, researchers may spend time away from their host institution (for example, attendance at a conference, short visits to other institutions) if this would boost impact. Mobility between the academic and non-academic sector is also encouraged where this increases the impact of the fellowship.

+ Global Fellowships

Global Fellowships include initial mobility (an ‘outgoing phase’) to a third country such as Australia, with a mandatory ‘return phase’ to an EU member state or associated country. The total duration of a Global Fellowship may be up to three years. Australian researchers are not eligible for Global Fellowships (they are restricted to nationals or long term residents of EU member states or associated countries).

Australian entities may be a partner organisation in a Global Fellowship. However, the EU contribution must be directly managed by the host organisation (beneficiary of the grant), which is established and located in an EU member state or associated country. Under the responsibility of the host institution, parts of the EU contribution can be transferred to a partner organisation to cover the costs of hosting the fellow for the outgoing phase of the fellowship. The EU highly encourages the host institution and the partner organisation to define these financial arrangements in a partnership agreement according to the needs of the project.

Arrangements between the host institution and partner organisation are an internal matter for the partnership. However, during the project audit the host organisation will need to demonstrate to the EU that the researcher was working on the action and that the expected allowances (living, mobility and family allowances) were fully paid to him/her. The EU will not request details on management or indirect costs.

Global Fellows must have a nominated supervisor at both the host organisation and the partner institution.

+ Can Australian entities participate in host-driven Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions such as an Innovative Training Networks (ITN) and Research and Innovation Staff Exchange (RISE)?

Australian entities will not be automatically eligible for funding from the EU in MSCA host driven calls such as an ITN or RISE, even though they can participate as additional partner organisations. The Australian Government currently does not provide funding for Australian participation in MSCA host-driven calls.

Participation of an Australian entity in a multi-partner ITN proposal is possible once the minimum country composition requirement is fulfilled (three EU member states or associated countries). Usually an Australian entity would be expected to fund their participation. If funding is requested from the EU, the proposal needs to present strong evidence that the funding is essential to achieve the objectives of the proposed research training programme.

+ Is there reimbursement of costs incurred by an Australian partner organisation in an ITN?

While an Australian partner organisation in an ITN cannot directly receive funding from the EU for project costs (unless in exceptional circumstances), they can seek reimbursement from the project beneficiaries for the costs incurred in delivering activities for the research training programme (these activities may include providing training, hosting of secondments and internships etc.).

Costs incurred by an Australian partner organisation can be reimbursed by a project beneficiary (the costs would be covered by the EU funding contribution under the cost category relevant for the activities carried out by the Australian partner organisation). Arrangements between the project beneficiaries and partner organisations are an internal matter for the partnership. Arrangements for reimbursement must be addressed and discussed at the ITN consortium level and it is recommended that arrangements are formalised through a partnership agreement.

+ Can an Australian SME receive funding under the Horizon 2020 SME Instrument?

Only single or groups of for-profit SMEs that are all established in EU member states or associated countries are eligible to apply for funding under the SME Instrument. Other partners (Australian entities, including SMEs, research providers and larger businesses can be involved as third parties, in general through a sub-contracting relationship). Note that sub contracting arrangements need to be justified in the application. Work can be sub contracted to third parties in line with the ‘best-value-for-money’ principle, and provided that conflicts of interest are avoided. However, very high sub contracting levels may leave questions regarding the motivation or capacity of a SME established in an EU member state or associated country to carry out the action and would have to be very well justified, given the intervention logic of the SME Instrument.

+ If an Australian business has established a subsidiary/affiliate SME in an EU member state or associated country, can this subsidiary/affiliate SME apply for funding and support from the Horizon 2020 SME Instrument?

Any SME that is legally established in an EU member state or associated country and fulfils the requirements of the EU SME Definition: can apply for funding and support under the SME Instrument. Under the SME Instrument, EU funding and support is provided for ‘high potential innovation projects’ that will help SMEs grow and expand their activities into other countries – in Europe and beyond. The SME Instrument does not target start-ups, SMEs should be established and looking to grow.

+ Can an Australian researcher or innovation expert become an independent expert for European research and innovation under Horizon 2020?

The EU appoints independent experts to assist with research and innovation assignments, including the evaluation of proposals, monitoring of projects, evaluation of programmes, and design of policy (including Horizon 2020 Advisory Groups). The EU seeks experts from across the globe to ensure that they have the most appropriate expertise. Independent experts are required to have a high-level of expertise in relevant fields of research and innovation (each call for experts will provide details on the types of expertise required); and be available for occasional, short term assignments.

Australian experts are encouraged to register as potential independent experts for Horizon 2020. Being involved in a Horizon 2020 evaluation process has a number of benefits for Australian experts, including: seeing cutting edge research proposals in their own field; networking with similar experts; and providing an introduction and insights for the purposes of participating in a future Horizon 2020 call. Should an expert be chosen as an independent expert for the purposes of evaluating Horizon 2020 proposals, it normally involves about two working weeks of their time, with their costs fully covered - approximately €450 or AU$660 per day plus all associated costs.

Independent experts do not need to hold a tenured position. Postdoctoral and retired experts are eligible to apply. The key criterion for being selected as an expert is a high-level of expertise in the relevant fields. Australian researchers and innovation experts interested in becoming an independent expert for Horizon 2020 are encouraged to register through the EC’s Participant's Portal.

Further information is also provided in the FAQs. You can filter FAQs by Expert related questions only on the left hand side and also by H2020 programme related questions as well.

+ Would it be possible for an Australian entity to coordinate a project under Horizon 2020?

Yes, Australian entities may become project coordinators under Horizon 2020, since the place of establishment is irrelevant for a consortium’s choice of a coordinator. (This includes MSCA host-driven calls such as ITNs and RISE). However, there is no advantage for an Australian partner to act as project coordinator. A coordinator based in Australia that is ineligible to receive EU funding, will not be reimbursed for any costs incurred for the project, including the costs related to the specific tasks of the coordinator. In addition, according to the Model Grant Agreement (Art. 41.2) the tasks of the coordinator cannot be delegated to another project beneficiary or subcontracted. Therefore an Australian coordinator would be unable to be reimbursed for any costs incurred for being the project coordinator, if this role was delegated to them.

+ Can an Australian entity submit a proposal under Horizon 2020?

There is nothing expressly stating that an Australian entity cannot submit a Horizon 2020 application, however, as Australian entities are only eligible for funding under Horizon 2020 in exceptional circumstances (see response to question twelve below), there is little to gain from an Australian entity submitting a proposal.

+ Are Australian entities eligible for funding under Horizon 2020?

As a general rule applicants from non-EU and non-associated countries are always free to take part in Horizon 2020 calls – even if the calls for proposals or topic text do not state this explicitly. However, Australian entities (and entities from other industrialised third countries and emerging economies) are generally not entitled to funding from the EU. There may be exceptional circumstances where Australian entities are eligible to receive funding from the EU (usually to cover travel costs to participate in the project). Australian applicants may be granted funding from the EU if:

  • Funding is provided for in a bilateral scientific and technological agreement or similar arrangement between the EU and the country where the applicant is based. (Note that funding is not provided for in the agreement between Australia and the EU).

  • The call for proposals expressly states that applicants based in such countries are eligible for funding. (Note that there is no such call currently open).

  • Their participation is deemed essential for carrying out the action by the EC or the relevant funding body because it provides:

    • outstanding competence/expertise
    • access to research infrastructure
    • access to particular geographical environments
    • access to data.
  • There have been projects under the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7, the EU’s predecessor programme to Horizon 2020, which ran from 2007-2013), where Australian applicants have been able to demonstrate to the EU that their participation was critical to the project (and therefore that they were eligible for funding), for example, Australia was a useful test case for Europe; Australian expertise and facilities were unique; and Australian geography, populations and conditions meant that the project could only be conducted in Australia.

+ May international organisations receive EU funding under Horizon 2020?

International organisations, the majority of whose members are EU member states or associated countries, and whose principal objective is to promote scientific and technological cooperation in Europe, are automatically eligible. Other international organisations may be eligible if:

Funding is provided for in a bilateral scientific/technological agreement or similar arrangement between the EU and the organisation. (Note that funding is not provided for in the Agreement between Australia and the EU).

Their participation is deemed essential for carrying out the action, as outlined in the response to question twelve above.

+ When is it mandatory for a consortium to include Australian participants?

Some Horizon 2020 calls require a consortium to include participants based in specific non EU countries in order to be eligible. If so, this requirement (and the countries concerned) will be specified in the applicable call for proposals and topic description. This does not mean that a specified Australian participant is automatically eligible for funding from the EU.

+ How can an Australian entity find European partners to submit a proposal under H2020?

The AEOCCG is in the process of providing support information to assist with this.

The simplest way to find out about opportunities under Horizon 2020, including identifying potential collaboration partners, is to register your interest through the EC’s CORDIS (Community Research and Development Information Service) system by following the registration steps described on the Europa website.

If an Australian entity is unable to find collaboration partners through the CORDIS system, and they have identified the call for proposals they would like to apply to, the formal EU National Contact Point network may be able to assist with identifying a European collaboration partner. Other resources to assist with finding collaboration partners are being identified and will be publicised on the web site.

+ Does the Australian Government provide funding for Australian entities to participate in Horizon 2020 projects?

Australian participants may seek funding support for their participation in Horizon 2020 projects from Australian Government funding programs. Information on a number of these programs is available here. In particular the Linkages and Connections funding programs align most closely with supporting EU collaborations.


Note:   The information on this FAQ page was originally prepared by the Australian Department of Industry Innovation & Science, International Science Strategy team as part of the then CAESIE (Connecting Australian-European Science and Innovation Excellence) program and information was current as at December 2015.  They have kindly provided this to assist promotion of the H2020 program to the EO research community.

Corrections have been made to known changes, other information is in the process of being re-confirmed.  An extensive useful EC FAQ resource is available here