Syeda Aiman Zehra
With the highest expenditure rate in the world of 80 million Euros, EU’s Horizon 2020 is on the forefront for funding research and innovative projects. It was first proposed to the European Commission in 2011 and officially began in 2014, with a primary focus on “excellent science, industrial leadership, and societal challenges.” As the name suggests, it is open to all, member states as well as non-member states of the EU.
The Deputy Head of Mission at the EU Delegation to Pakistan, Anne Marshal, introduced the program in a talk at LUMS on Wednesday, October 3rd, with the intention to push more and more Pakistanis to apply for scholarships offered by H2020. According to her, activity from Pakistan is yet to amount to a million Euros and the number of projects taken up have only been five so far.
There are two options for anyone who is interested: Join a consortium that is already working on a proposal, or work on a personal proposal and involve at least three entities from European institutions. While the latter allows for more flexibility and freedom for the individual, the former is recommended first as it familiarizes one with the system. Marshal stressed that nothing prevents Pakistanis from being in the lead in these collaborative projects.
Individual researchers can find funds from Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA), which deals with Individual Fellowships, Innovative Training Networks, and Research and Innovation Staff Exchange, amongst other areas. From societal challenges, the health discipline has attracted most participants from Pakistan with projects taken up on issues such as tuberculosis. Other disciplines include food and agriculture, clean energy, and gender discrimination.
The speaker mentioned another EU scholarship program, Erasmus+, and differentiated it from H2020 stating that Erasmus+ is usually targeted at post-graduate students and is not as wide scale in the availability of funds and research equipment.
Individuals interested in the program can find the participant portal on the official website of Horizon 2020. The deadline to apply is October 16. Once the proposal has been sent, there will be a waiting period till a call is received, after which a grant is offered along with a three-month deadline for acceptance of the grant- provided that the commission accepts the proposal.