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Research and innovation

Widening participation and spreading excellence

Policy, strategy, how to apply and work programmes.

Policy and strategy

Widening Participation and Spreading Excellence actions under Horizon Europe, contribute to building research and innovation capacity for countries lagging behind.

They will strengthen their potential for successful participation in transnational research and innovation processes, promote networking and access to excellence.

Participants in the programme will be able to upgrade their research and innovation systems, making them stronger and allowing the EU as a whole to advance together, in line with the policy objectives of the European Research Area.

Areas of intervention

Teaming for Excellence: Teaming actions will create new or modernise existing centres of excellence in Widening countries through strategic partnerships with leading institutions abroad. The impact will be amplified by the conditionality of securing complementary investment from structural funds or other sources.

Twinning: Aims to enhance networking activities between research institutions of the Widening countries acting as coordinators, and top-class leading counterparts at EU level, by linking at least two research institutions from 2 different EU countries or Associated Countries. Therefore it builds on the huge potential of networking for excellence through knowledge transfer and exchange of best practices.

European Excellence Initiative (EEI) :The action will engage with universities and empower them further to be actors of change in research and innovation. It will raise excellence in science and in value creation through deeper and geographically inclusive cooperation in alliances of higher education institutions.

Pathways to Synergies: The purpose is to provide support for setting up the interfaces between two different funding systems, where barriers still occur due to the mismatches of regional versus European approaches. The main goal of the pathway is to move formerly single beneficiaries of regional funding programmes out of isolation via cross-border collaboration and prepare for participation in Horizon Europe calls.

Dissemination and Exploitation Support Facility: Will help beneficiaries of widening actions to improve the effectiveness of their dissemination and exploitation and unlock new sources of funding. Improving knowledge diffusion, technology uptake and having spill-over effects is fundamental to ensure that researchers and their institutions build on the latest available knowledge.

Hop-on Facility: Allows research institutions from Widening countries to join already ongoing research and innovation actions under Horizon Europe Pillar 2 and EIC Pathfinder.

Excellence Hubs: Will strengthen regional innovation excellence, through innovation ecosystems in Widening countries and beyond, by teaming up, and creating robust linkages between academia, businesses, governments and civil society.

ERA Chairs: By attracting high-level researchers to a Widening university or research centre, it increases its research capacity. It will establish a research team fully integrated in the coordinator's institution to significantly improve its research performance in a scientific domain of choice.

ERA Talents: Aims to boost interoperability of careers and employability of research and innovation talents across sectors, with a centre of gravity in widening countries. Focused on cross-sectoral talent circulation and academia-business collaboration for knowledge transfer.

COST: Enables researchers and innovators to set-up their own research networks in a wide range of scientific topics.

Results under Horizon 2020, the previous programme

Widening measures under Horizon 2020 have triggered advanced reforms and changes within national research and innovation systems, encouraged new partnerships and introduced new scientific curricula, extended networks, encouraged more peer reviewed international publications and opened up established research partnerships.

In the recent years, the widening countries (EU 13) have increased their participation under Horizon 2020. On average, as of February 2021, it represented 5.1% of the total Horizon 2020 budget allocated so far (up from 4.2% in the Seventh Framework programme, FP7 and 4.8% in 2018). 

Project success stories

Apply for funding

All funding information and details on how to apply are on the Funding and Tenders portal.

Work programme

Funding opportunities under Horizon Europe are set out in multiannual work programmes, which cover the large majority of support available.

2023 - 24

31 MARCH 2023
Horizon Europe Work programme (2023-24) - WIDERA

2021 - 22

Widening participation and strengthening the European Research Area work programme


17 MAY 2021
Horizon Europe: Widening participation and spreading excellence across Europe (Factsheet)