European funding opportunities with Canada through Horizon Europe and EUREKA Network programs


Canada is one of the EU’s oldest and closest partners and the diplomatic relations started formally in 1976.

Even though an Agreement for Scientific and Technological Cooperation between Canada and the European Union has been in place since 1996 – and is not limited in time – both parties recognize the importance to continue reinforcing the links between industry and research and fostering the innovation process to stimulate job creation, economic growth and social welfare. To achieve this goal, both parties agreed to continue developing common principles and adequate framework conditions needed to create a level playing field for researchers from Canada and the European Union to cooperate with each other on the basis of trust.

To that extent, European and Canadian program owners and managers are preparing for more Programme Level Cooperation and exploring how Canadians and Europeans may partner under existing frameworks/joint programmes to better align the respective funding streams. This programme level cooperation exchange involves the major Canadian Granting Councils at federal level as well as the relevant provincial authorities.

The purpose of this article and linked documentation is to provide an overview to Canadian organisations of the main European funding programmes supporting RDI cooperation with Canada.

First and foremost, Horizon Europe. Horizon Europe is the EU’s research and innovation framework programme for the years 2021–2027. The programme is designed to create new growth and jobs across Europe by strengthening scientific knowledge and know-how within the EU, by supporting the development and introduction of new technologies and innovations and by tackling major societal challenges facing Europe.

Horizon Europe, as was Horizon 2020, is open to the World. This means that participants from all over the world, regardless of their place of establishment or residence, can participate in most of the calls of Horizon Europe. Furthermore, in many cases, the EU will fund at least partly the participation of the international partners, such as Canada.

Second, the EUREKA Network. EUREKA is an intergovernmental network of 41 countries that promotes cooperative innovation across borders. Established in 1985, this program funds international collaborative projects for market-oriented, technology research and development and innovation (R&D&I) between two or more member countries. By virtue of Canada’s membership with EUREKA as an Associated Country (renewed in 2018), Canadian companies and research institutes can access technology, expertise, and markets in Europe, in addition to funding for R&D&I projects pursued in partnership with a European company or research institute.

For further information on the above funding programmes, please click here.

HORIZON EUROPE: The European research and innovation framework programme running from 2021-2027

Through the implementation of Horizon Europe (FP9), the European Commission ambitions to maintain Europe at the forefront of research and innovation. Beyond this objective, it aims to continue the work carried out in the context of Horizon 2020 towards long-term scientific, economic and social impact of research and innovation.

Through Horizon Europe, the European Union aims:

  • To strengthen the European Union’s technological and scientific potential
  • To stimulate Europe’s innovation capacity, competitiveness and boost employment
  • To meet European citizen’s needs and preserve the EU’s socio-economic model and values

Running from 2021 to 2027, the European Commission dedicates a 100 billion euros budget to its implementation to fund practically focused novel research and innovation projects for both public and private sector organizations on individual and collaborative based projects that align with European Commission “missions” and “European partnerships”.

Horizon Europe, as was Horizon 2020, is open to the World. This means that participants from all over the world, regardless of their place of establishment or residence, can participate in most of the calls of Horizon Europe. Furthermore, in many cases, the EU will fund at least partly the participation of the international partners, such as Canada.

In addition to this general openness of most Horizon Europe calls to non-EU researchers, many calls particularly encourage cooperation with non-EU partners. All calls are published in the bi-annual “Work Programmes” that are currently being received as “drafts” and that FI Group’s International Grants Department is currently analysing.

The Programme structure:

Different types of actions to be funded

Horizon Europe aim to support projects throughout the innovation chain (from ideation to commercialization) and have for objective to rationalize financing in favour of growth.

To do so, Horizon Europe is broken down into several types of actions which vary according to the scope of the project, the expected level of technological maturity, its objectives and a possible specific eligibility criterion (e.g. partnership with a third country imposed, etc.).

Actions and associated projects can be classified into two main categories:

  • Collaborative projects: consortia must be composed of, except in special cases, at least three legal entities. The three legal entities must be established in member states or d associated countries.
  • Individual projects: a single institution submits and carries out the project. Those projects are only opened to EU member states and associated countries.

To the above categories can be added two main approaches:

  • Bottom-up (free subject): refers to “open” calls for projects, that accept projects from all technological fields or sectors of activity.
  • Top-down (compulsory subject): refers to calls for projects that only accept projects meeting specific thematic or sectoral criteria, defined by the European Commission.

The different types of actions of interest for Canada

Actions Approach Technology Readiness Level expected
Research Innovation Action (RIA) Top down Defined in the call texts (from TRL3 to TRL5 in average)
Innovation Action (IA) Top down Defined in the call texts (from TRL5 to TRL7 in average)
Coordination Support Action (CSA) Top down Accompanying measures to support R&D and innovation activities Contribution to standards, dissemination, policy and other areas No research activities planned
Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) Bottom up Encourage researchers mobility and are open to all areas of research. The expected TRL level is low. The MSCA can be collaborative and individual
EIC Accelerator Bottom up TRL6 minimum

Who is eligible for funding?

Researchers throughout the world can participate in Horizon Europe projects – though they are not always eligible for Horizon Europe funding.

Regarding funding, we can distinguish between countries that are automatically eligible for funding and those that are not.

  1. Automatically eligible for funding

Associated countries – they participate in Horizon Europe under the same conditions as EU Member States. There are, as of 7 November 2016, sixteen countries associated to Horizon 2020, and the new list to be applied under Horizon Europe as not yet been unveiled.

Developing countries – Research organisations in some 130 developing countries are automatically eligible for funding. The full list of these countries is provided in Annex A of the Horizon 2020 Work Programmes. Please note that this rule does not apply to the Euratom programme.

  • Not automatically eligible for funding

Industrialised countries and emerging economies – participants from these countries have themselves to determine the sources of funding and find the resources for their part of the action. Several countries have created mechanisms to co-fund their participants in Horizon 2020/Horizon Europe actions selected for EU funding.

BUT, in exceptional circumstances, industrialised and emerging economies can receive EU funding if:

  • there is a bilateral agreement between that country and the EU.
  • the country is explicitly identified in the relevant work programme and call for proposal as being eligible for funding.
  • their participation is deemed by the European Commission to be essential for carrying out the action.

Current priorities / roadmap for EU-Cana R&I cooperation

In targeted cooperation areas, Canadian participation were specifically flagged in open calls, for example in health research, nanosafety, aviation or marine and Arctic research as part of Horizon 2020 for 2018-2020.

When Canadian participation is explicitly flagged the participation of Canadian partners is strongly encouraged and will add value to the proposals.

The new roadmap for EU-Canada R&I cooperation under Horizon Europe is currently being drafted and should be made available in April 2021.

EUREKA Network

The EUREKA Network is the world’s biggest public network for international cooperation in R&D and innovation.

Organisations and companies applying through Eureka programmes can access funding and support from national and regional ministries or agencies for their international R&D projects.

As of March 2018, Eureka has 41 full members, including the European Union (represented by the European Commission), one partner country (South Korea) and four associated members (Argentina, Canada, Chile, South Africa). All 27 EU Member States are also members of Eureka.

EUREKA Mission is to stimulate Growth and Job creation in Europe

  • By supporting the internationalisation of businesses with innovative ideas
  • This mission is achieved through a well-established intergovernmental network of more than 40 Members
  • Over 30 BILLION euros of public-private investment has been mobilized to support 5500 projects since 1985.

EUREKA supports projects which are:

  • Transnational cooperation projects (At least two countries involved)
  • Innovative projects (To produce a new product, process or services)
  • Bottom-up projects  (No Thematic Restrictions)
  • Market-oriented projects (Release the new product, process or services quickly on the market)

The four pillars of EUREKA are:

*This article was written by the FI Group.