European Union (EU) Funding

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What is it ?

The European Defence Fund is the Commission’s initiative to support industrial defence cooperation across the Union. The Fund will support collaborative defence research and development and foster an innovative and competitive defence industrial base. The European Defence Fund will contribute to the strategic autonomy and resilience of the Union and its Member States. It will coordinate, supplement and amplify national investments in defence.

Without substituting Member States’ efforts, the Fund will promote cooperation among companies and research players throughout the EU, in research and development of state-of-the-art and interoperable defence technology and equipment. It will foster breakthrough innovation and the participation of small and medium-sized enterprises in collaborative projects.

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Who can benefit ?

With an exception for funding projects on disruptive technologies, only collaborative projects, involving at least three eligible entities from at least three Member States or associated countries may receive funding. Norway is an associated country and Norwegian entities are treated as EU entities.

Participation of entities from other countries is subject to conditions defined to ensure the security and defence interests of the EU and its Member States. More particularly:

  • Entities established in the EU but controlled by non-EU entities can participate as consortium member and receive funding provided security-based conditions are met.
  • Entities established outside the EU can also cooperate and need to provided similar security-based conditions are met, but they cannot receive funding from the EDF.

More Information

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Learn more about EU defence industry

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Learn more about EDIDP

European Defence Industrial Development Programme 2019-2020
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Learn more about PADR

Preparatory Action on Defence Research

Other funding opportunities

European Regional Development Fund

The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) aims to strengthen economic, social and territorial cohesion in the EU by correcting imbalances between its regions.
In 2021-2027 it will enable investments in a smarter, greener, more connected and more social Europe that is closer to its citizens. It is jointly managed by the European Commission and the EU countries.  

The defence sector can access ERDF to co-fund productive cross-border investment projects and modernise supply chains. These funds help SMEs prepare for commercialisation and to boost regional competitiveness

Around EUR 80 billion out of the EUR 226 billion of the ERDF envelope will be concentrated on promoting innovative and smart economic transformation. The ERDF may fund defence and dual-use activities in research and innovation, as part of a smart specialisation strategy. Several defence-related SMEs have already successfully applied for funding by the ERDF. A Commission study showed how ERDF has funded defence and dual use projects in the period 2014-2020.

INTERREG Europe will support cross-border mobility, and efforts to develop environmental protection, emergency services, skilled jobs and access to public services for the next EU generation. Two new objectives will also steer European territorial cooperation: ‘Better cooperation governance’ and ‘A safer, more secure Europe’.

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Managing Authorities – usually a national, regional or local public authority or public/private body – are appointed by Member States for each operational programme. These are the reference points for region-specific up-to-date information on how exactly to apply for funding in your region.

SMEs, companies and research organisations interested in applying for ERDF funding should contact regional managing authorities. Regional authorities can also use the opportunities offered by the Interregional cooperation programme INTERREG to share or exchange experiences in the field of public support to implement a dual-use strategy.

European Social Fund +

With a budget of over €99 billion for the 2021-2027 period, the European Social Fund+ (ESF+) will invest in the following priority areas:

  • Supporting young people who have been particularly affected by the COVID-19 crisis
  • Helping children in need by allocating ESF+ resources to targeted actions to combat child poverty, and supporting the most vulnerable in society suffering from job losses and income reductions
  • Reskilling and upskilling people for the transition to a green and digital economy
  • Capacity building for social partners and civil society organisations
  • Transnational cooperation for promoting social innovation across the EU
  •  Direct support to social innovation through the Employment and Social Innovation strand

The ESF+ supported Operational Programmes will be able to fund defence-related and dual use projects focused on skill acquisition and labour market. A Commission study showed how the European Social Fund has funded defence and dual use projects in the period 2014-2020.

Tips

Managing Authorities – usually a national, regional or local public authority or public/private body – are appointed by Member States for each operational programme. These are the reference points for region-specific up-to-date information on how exactly to apply for funding in your region.

SMEs, companies and research organisations interested in applying for ESF+ funding should contact regional managing authorities.

Horizon Europe

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Horizon Europe is the main framework programme of the EU for research and innovation with calls being published between 2021 and 2027. The budget amounts to EUR 95.5 billion and targets challenges related to climate change, UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, competitiveness of the EU and growth. Horizon Europe aims to strengthen the research and innovation capabilities in the EU, creating and supporting the European Research Area. Legal entities from the EU and associated countries can participate in these calls.

Horizon Europe is exclusively a framework programme for civilian applications. However, there are opportunities for applications and innovations for dual use.

One novelty of Horizon Europe is the European Innovation Council, the EIC. The EIC builds on the success under the predecessor Horizon Europe and SME Instrument, and supports innovations with potential breakthrough and disruptive nature with scale-up potential that may be too risky for private investors. In the EIC, 70% of the budget is earmarked for SMEs.

SMEs can participate by joining a consortium that responds to a specific call for proposals. The funding opportunities can be found in the work programmes. Through the Funding and Tenders Portal it is possible to find all the information about the calls and how to apply. In particular, Pillar II, Global Challenges and European Industrial Competitiveness, lists opportunities for civil applications that can be adapted for defence applications.

Existing projects and programme information can give you further details on the functioning of the Horizon Europe Framework Programme for Research and Innovation.

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Read the Commission’s Guidance Note to see what research involving dual-use items means in the context of Horizon Europe.

Monitor the Participant Portal for Calls for Proposals and analyse the multiannual work programme to assess your eligibility. National contact points are there to provide personalised support.