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Research and innovation

Funding and support

EU, African and international funding and support for African and European researchers

Why investment is needed

The role of research and innovation activities and policy is becoming increasingly central and urgent in facing Africa and Europe’s shared challenges: the need to promote sustainable growth and jobs, green transition, digital transformation, mobility, security and good governance, and today, crucially, a pandemic.

Establishing sustainable collaboration, widening the exchange and mutual benefits, anchored in reciprocal commitment and based on shared values and interests, require investments and funding for research and innovation from both continents.

You can find the main research an innovation funding programmes of the EU, EU member states and the AU below.

EU funding programmes

The EU countries' research and development policies provide the basis for research and innovation funding at the European level. Joint initiatives bring together strong national players from science, industry and society: horizontally, through transborder cooperation between researchers and vertically through new forms of cooperation between science, industry and society. Research and innovation is considered a driver of sustainable development in European policy in fields such as environment, health, energy and agriculture, the digital economy, future mobility and the exploration and use of outer space. It also serves tto implement the United Nations' 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development with its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as well as the Paris Climate Agreement.

Horizon 2020

The programme made funding available between 2014 and 2020. Its emphasis was on excellent science, industrial leadership and tackling societal challenges. Its aim was to ensure Europe produces world-class science, removes barriers to innovation and makes it easier for the public and private sectors to work together in delivering innovation.

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Horizon Results Platform

The platform enables EU-funded projects to showcase their results in view of future exploitation in research, business and policy. The European Commission uses the platform to highlight upcoming calls, pitching events and other relevant news.

Conact: EC-HORIZON-RESULTS-PLATFORMatec [dot] europa [dot] eu (EC-HORIZON-RESULTS-PLATFORM[at]ec[dot]europa[dot]eu)

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Horizon Europe

Horizon Europe is the EU’s research and innovation framework programme running from 2021-2027. It has budget of €95.5 billion for the period of 7 years, making it the most ambitious research and innovation programme in the world.

The programme aims to strengthen the EU's scientific and technological bases and the European Research Area (ERA), boost Europe's innovation capacity, competitiveness and jobs and deliver on citizens' priorities and sustain our socioeconomic model and values.

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Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA)

MSCA grants are available for all stages of a researcher’s career. Fellows include PhD candidates and those carrying out more advanced research. Grants encourage individuals to work in other countries, collaborate and share ideas between different industrial sectors and research disciplines. 

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Erasmus+ programme

The Erasmus+ programme is the EU's programme to support education, training, youth and sport in Europe. Its budget of €14.7 billion provides opportunities for over 4 million Europeans to study, train, and gain experience abroad. Erasmus+ opportunities extend worldwide, and the countries in Africa, the Caribbean and Pacific are no exception.

European and sub-Saharan Africa universities have sent or received around 100 students and staff for study or teaching so far. Each year some 70 to 80 students have received scholarships for Erasmus Mundus Joint Master degrees. Ethiopia, Ghana and Nigeria supply the most African students.

2 projects in Africa were enabled by Erasmus+ capacity-building for youth

  • JAMBO was a 12-month project to have more women and girls in voluntary projects and services in Uganda, Tanzania, and Kenya with the aim of improving the women's skills, knowledge and employability.
  • CLICK was a 24-month project tackling the growing problem of a digital divide. CLICK provided learning opportunities and boosted the communication network between European and Latin American, Asian, and African, Caribbean and Pacific countries. Young people from developing countries improved their digital literacy and increased their overall employability.

The new EU-Africa Strategy focuses on empowering young people. Vocational training mobility will soon be offered to improve skills and employability for youth in Africa and the EU.

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Joint Research Centre

The JRC is the European Commission's science and knowledge service. The centre employs scientists to carry out research in order to provide independent scientific advice and support to EU policy. The JRC collaborates with over a thousand organisations worldwide whose scientists have access to many JRC facilities through various collaboration agreements. The majority of these agreements are bilateral agreements with public and private research organisations, universities and national and international bodies.

Science for AU-EU partnership publication

Read more about working with the JRC

European Research Council (ERC) grants

The ERC supports outstanding scientists with ERC grants in order to advance frontier research and visionary projects and to open up new interdisciplinary fields of knowledge. Read more

Vacancies for team members interested in joining an ERC led research project are published on the EURAXESS portal

Initiatives called 'Implementing Arrangements' exist for ERC-funded teams in Europe to host non-European talented scientists. Find out more

Development Smart Innovation through Research in Agriculture (DESIRA)

The objective of the DeSIRA initiative is to contribute to climate-relevant, productive and sustainable transformation of agriculture and food systems in low and middle-incomes countries by supporting research and innovation projects in Africa, Asia, Latin America. 

Funding of around €300 million is from the European Commission is available.

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The ACP Innovation Fund

The programme helps ACP countries structure their innovation ecosystems and inducing change in policy development, knowledge transfer, and capacity of research and innovation stakeholders. 

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African Research Initiative for Scientific Excellence (ARISE) programme

ARISE will enable 40 early career African scientists to deliver cutting-edge research across Africa. Grant beneficiaries are selected on the basis of scientific excellence in a continent-wide open competition.

The pilot programme was launched in December 2020 by the European Union with a contribution of €25 million and is also funded by the Pan-African Programme Annual Action Programme 2019.

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European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP)

The second EDCTP programme awards funding to collaborative clinical research projects conducted in sub-Saharan Africa on poverty-related infectious diseases, based on open, competitive and independently reviewed calls for proposals.

More information under priorities and partnerships

EU countries' funding programmes


Germany has maintained scientific cooperation with Africa for many years, both on a bilateral and multilateral level. Read more

The German Federal Funding Advisory Service on Research and Innovation is the central point of contact for any questions about funding. Read more

Research in Germany by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) gives an overview of the German research landscape and funding system. It gives practical information to support foreign scientists and researchers who want to collaborate with German research organisations or to complete a research stay in Germany. Read more

Kooperation international is for anyone seeking information and cooperation partners in Germany and beyond. It also promotes cross-border networking of research institutions. Players active in international research and innovation cooperation can present themselves and their activities. Read more

African Union funding programmes

The Science and Technology Division formulates, harmonises, coordinates and implements policies to accelerate Africa’s transition to an innovative-led, knowledge-based economy.

The African Union Research Grant programme (AURG) exploits Africa's scientific excellence and promotes greater involvement of African scientists, researchers and institutions in implementing the Consolidated Plan of Action (CPA).

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African Union Research Grants (AURG)

The AURG supports pan African research and development through grants and direct funding, provided by the Pan-African Programme.
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The programme's overall objective is to improve science and technology research capacity and international collaboration between Europe and Africa and within Africa, with a knock-on impact on sustainable development and poverty reduction.

The African Union Research Grants 2021/22 accepts proposals for research focusing on thematic priorities listed in Africa’s Science and Technology Consolidated Plan of Action (CPA) and its lighthouse projects

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Further programmes

HRST also coordinates AU’s education and scientific scholarships and awards

and oversees the work of specialist AU institutions such as 

International funding and support programmes

A number of research and funding programmes are run by international organisations

Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) works closely with African governments, regional organisations and private actors to help them design and implement innovative policies adapted to each context, and improve the economic and social well-being of African people. Read more

United Nations (UN)

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) leads international efforts to defeat hunger. FAO's goal is to achieve food security for all and make sure that people have regular access to enough high-quality food to lead active, healthy lives. With over 194 member states, FAO works in over 130 countries worldwide.

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UNESCO (UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation)'s global priorities are Africa and gender equality. UNESCO and development partners focus on 54 African countries.

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The UN-Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD) carries out research that helps national governments and others achieve their sustainable development objectives. An overarching goal is to ensure social development concerns and objectives remain prominent in implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

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The Africa Renewal information programme of the United Nations Department of Social and Economic Affairs (UN DESA) provides analysis of the major economic and development challenges facing Africa today: economic reform, debt, education, health, women's advancement, conflict and civil strife, democratisation, aid, investment, trade, regional integration, rural development.

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The United Nations University (UNU) is a global think tank and postgraduate teaching organisation headquartered in Japan. Its mission is to contribute, through collaborative research and education, to help resolve the pressing global problems of human survival, development and welfare. One of the 14 UNU institutes is in Accra, Ghana: Institute for Natural Resources in Africa.

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The Africa UN knowledge hub For COVID-19 developed by the UN Development System in Africa is a one-stop-shop on information and resources relevant to Africa on the pandemic. The hub brings together information and resources from credible sources including WHO, regional UN agencies, ministries of health of African governments and credible news channels amongst others.

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