Horizon 2020 is the EU flagship initiative to succeed the EU framework programmes. With a budget of €80 billion available over 7 years (2014 to 2020) this new research and innovation programme is part of the drive to create new jobs and growth in European industry.
The headline budget is slightly increased from the EU10.8 billion p.a. under FP7, but it encompasses programs previously funded separately. It combines all the funding previously provided through:
Horizon 2020 is intended to introduce simplification through a single set of rules.
Smaller consortia but more diverse
Whereas, under FP7, four entities needed to get together to secure funding (at least two from different EU states or contributing associated countries), under Horizon 2020, only three entities need to collaborate, but they must be from different Member States or associated countries (Regulation (EU) No 1290/2013, Art. 1).
As under the Framework Programs, results (previously called “foreground” in FP7 and before that “knowledge” in FP6) will be the property of the participant generating the results, and joint results will be jointly owned and, if no other agreement is reached between the participants, each joint owner shall be entitled to grant non-exclusive licences to third parties, without any right to sublicense (Art. 41).
Participants must examine the possibility of protecting their results and, if “possible, reasonable and justified” must protect the results for an appropriate period and across appropriate territory or inform the Commission or relevant funding body otherwise before disseminating the results (Art. 42). The same applies if the relevant patent or patent application is abandoned within 5 years of final funding for reasons other than lack of potential for exploitation.
Patent applications must include a statement that the action giving rise to the results received EU funding (Art. 43).
As before, access rights for use of results, as well as essential background, can be granted under fair and reasonable conditions (references to royalty-free access have been removed), and there is no time limit for agreement on terms.
This allows participants such as universities, who may not have the possibility to exploit their results directly, great flexibility for negotiating licensing terms.
Universities do not have to set licensing terms up-front
Under earlier (FP6) rules, access rights for use of the results of a project were royalty-free unless otherwise agreed before signature. Under present rules, provided universities do not sign away these access rights at the time of entering into a consortium agreement, there is an opportunity for a revenue stream from background as well as from results. It is all the more important that background is protected before entering into the project, and universities may seek to enter projects in which protected background can be developed.