Horizon 2020 and Free Software

Marc Hoffmann, h-rd.org


Horizon 2020 and Free Software

Why this presentation?

  • I'm doing research http://h-rd.org
  • I'm learning a lot about Horizon 2020
  • Free Software can get more out of Horizon 2020


  • I'm writing a book about getting funded in Horizon: http://horizonbook.eu
  • Sharing knowledge and giving back to the Free Software community


  1. What is Horizon 2020
  2. How does it work
  3. What can you expect

This is an informal Horizon 2020 overview with generalizations, specialized for Free Software projects and stakeholders.

What is Horizon 2020 (1)

Horizon 2020 is the main EU project for science and technology.

From 2014 until 2020.

What is Horizon 2020 (2)


  • stay globally competitive
  • find solutions to societal problems

What is Horizon 2020 (3)

Based on:

  • research proposed by community, filtered by politics
  • euro 70 billion funding
  • EU wide networking
  • Intellectual Property (IP) protection and spreading

Funding areas (1)

EU language lingo:

  • Health, demographic change and wellbeing
  • Food security, sustainable agriculture, marine and maritime research, and the bioeconomy
  • Secure, clean and efficient energy
  • Smart, green and integrated transport
  • Climate action, resource efficiency and raw materials

Funding areas (2)

  • Europe in a changing world-inclusive, innovative and reflective societies
  • Secure societies-protecting freedom and security of Europe and its citizens

And also: SME Instrument

Example projects (FP7)

Free Software Scenarios

  • Use Free Software in a project
    • INTEGREEN, vehicular traffic monitoring, Web2Py
  • Make Free Software in a project
    • Interactive Knowledge Stack (IKS) is an open source community, semantic web, euro 6.58m from EU
    • Active, enabling the knowledge powered enterprise, Semantic MediaWiki extensions

How to get funding

Applying is a big administrative hassle and only possible for multiyear stable groups and networks:

  • Universities
  • Companies
  • (Local) government
  • Foundations

i.e. you must be legal entity, not just a person or group of people

Biggest Problems

  1. Where does Free Software fit
  2. Networking
  3. Finding partners (and trusting them)
  4. Making a proposal work
  5. Administration

Actually doing the work is surprisingly not the most difficult part.

Where does Free Software fit

There is no specific area for (Free) Software. Funding is based on problems to be solved, likely areas are:

  • ICT
  • Security
  • Data analysis / science
  • Spreading knowledge / dissemination
  • Specialties: gene networks, bioinformatics, mathematical programming, geophysical research


  • Start with you email contacts
  • Who is using your software
  • EU Partner search is mostly a waste of resources

Finding Partners

  • Only partner with organizations and people you trust
  • Partners are mostly interested in solving a problem, not in using Free Software
  • Position your project as state-of-the-art

ex. Semantic MediaWiki, practical semantic web application, used as a component in several EU projects.

Making a proposal work

  • Partner with experienced organizations
  • Make yourself irreplaceable
  • Follow proposal rules to the letter

Only ~20% (??) of proposals get funded, but there are many sub-standard proposals.


  • Intellectual Property rules must be agreed on beforehand
  • You need an official accountant
  • Time keeping for everybody, formally and for all working time, not just project time
  • Write reports (deliverables in EU-speak)

Open Access guidelines

  • CC-BY or CC-0 licenses (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/) recommended by EU
  • Policy on research publication and data repositories (Open Research Data Pilot)
  • No policy on methods, i.e. software used to produce research results

What to expect from a Horizon project

+ Partner network

+ Finance (40 - 100% of project cost)

+ Exposure / publicity for your Free Software project

- Lots of administrative hassle

More Information

Questions & Answers

  • But how can I start now?
  • I need partners?
  • Can you help me with …?