Where Is the Money? Topics for Health Research in Horizon 2020
Written by Sara Sleigh

This autumn, the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 programme launched the new work programme for 2016 and 2017. With a focus on topics in health, which is Euram’s major focus, this blog will explore what’s new and what has stayed the same in this new programme of work.

With the overarching goal of ‘better health for all’ the work programme is split between topics relating to personalised medicine and those in ICT focusing on health and ageing well. Overall, 21 topics are equally split across 2016 and 2017 and the variety of funding instruments is large. Well understood ‘Research and Innovation Actions’ and ‘Coordination and Support Actions’ stand alongside prizes and brand new instruments in procurement and financing. With a total of €933 million to be allocated over the next two years, budgets are lower than in 2014-15.

Personalised Medicine

'Personalised medicine is a medical model using characterization of individuals’ phenotypes and genotypes (e.g. molecular profiling, medical imaging, lifestyle data) for tailoring the right therapeutic strategy for the right person at the right time, and/or to determine the predisposition to disease and/or to deliver timely and targeted prevention.' Horizon 2020 Societal Challenge 1 Advisory Group Report, July 2014

The EC’s definition of personalised medicine above is precise and should be borne in mind when preparing new applications as it provides the context for all of the calls falling under the following themes: ‘Understanding health, well-being and disease’, ‘Preventing disease’, and ‘Treating and managing diseases’. Only for one topic is the type of disease specified – ‘Multi omics for personalised therapies addressing diseases of the immune system’ – the others remain very broad and may also include infectious diseases, which is also covered by vaccine calls and pre-commercial loans within the InnovFin pilot.

Calls reappear that the EC views as particularly oversubscribed and successful during 2014 and 2015 (i.e. ‘new therapies for rare diseases’, ‘new therapies for chronic diseases’, and ‘clinical research on regenerative medicine’). The high level of competition in these areas means that your proposal must stand out. Evaluators have indicated that involvement of patient organisations and regulators within consortia will be viewed positively.

Health ICT and Promoting Healthy Ageing

The increased focus on health ICT represents a major shift in the 2016-17 work programme. The aim is to develop new ways to support the long-term care of an ageing population with multiple chronic diseases, designing solutions that are personalised and encourage patients to care for themselves for longer within their home environment. ICT is seen as a key facilitator to meet these aims and one that provides economic opportunities within the Digital Single Market.

Consortia within this field will be multi-disciplinary as those in the healthcare field establish new relationships with colleagues in ICT. Collaboration with social scientists will also be important, as consortia must address how the total package of work contributes to the expected impacts of the call. The EC has been developing monitoring and assessment frameworks for outcome indicators in this relatively new field – for example, MAFEIP indicators – and encourages applicants to implement them. Proposals should address stratification within the populations targeted by an innovation (i.e. how will you identify the people for the service you propose) as well as ethics and regulatory oversight, where relevant.

Deadlines, Deadlines

Proposal submission deadlines for 2016 are in February and April depending on the topic (although the dates are sometimes subject to change). All 2016 topics use a single stage application procedure. Four topics in 2017 will use a two stage application procedure; the stage 1 deadline for these applications is in October 2016. From 2016, the regular deadlines for Phase 1 and 2 SME Instrument applications are separate (they were previously submitted on the same date).

If you would like any more detailed information on any of these topics or support for your Horizon 2020 project or proposal, please get in touch via support@euram.ltd.uk or follow us on Twitter @EuramLtd.