Practical Guide to EU funding opportunities for Research and Innovation

In the multifaceted field of EU funding, this guide is intended to help stakeholders find the right funding programme for their projects in a user-friendly and comprehensive way. It provides a description of each programme including the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) and the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP), as well as the Structural funds (European Regional Development Fund and European Social Fund) and the Cohesion Fund, explaining their structures, their overall budgets, who is eligible and how to apply.

International Cooperation under FP7

To become more competitive and play a leading role globally, the European Community needs a strong and coherent international science and technology (S&T) policy. Therefore, cooperation under FP7 is not limited to the EU Member States, but involves more than 100 countries from all over the world..
Three objectives have been identified for the EC's international research cooperation:

  • support European competitiveness through strategic partnerships with non-EU countries in selected fields of science and by engaging the best scientists from such countries to work with and in Europe;
  • enhance the production of knowledge and scientific excellence by enabling European universities, research institutions and firms to establish contacts with their partners in such third-countries, thereby facilitating access to research environments outside Europe and promoting synergies on a global scale;
  • address specific problems that third-countries face, or that have a global character, on the basis of mutual interest and mutual benefit.

The programme allows inclusion of participants from EU candidate and 'associated countries', which are party to international agreements with the European Community, under which they make financial contributions to FP7.


The European Research Council (ERC)
was launched in 2007, as an independent, quality-driven funding body run by the scientists in the European Union, as a part of the Seventh Research Framework Programme (FP7). It has been given a budget of €7.5bn to 2013, and will focus solely on fundamental or "blue skies" study.

The ERC awards grants through open competition to projects headed by starting and established researchers, irrespective of their origins, who are working or moving to work in Europe. The sole criterion for selection is scientific excellence. The aim here is to recognise the best ideas, and retain and confer status and visibility to the best brains in Europe, while also attracting talent from abroad.

The ERC was created in response to fears that Europe would lag behind in this area, due to its spending (in relation to GDP) on scientific research being less than the USA and Japan, and only just ahead of India and China. But it also counters a compartmentalisation of research in small research communities in European Members States. The ERC is about pooling our efforts so that all of Europe can be a big player.

The Marie Curie Actions support the training and mobility of researchers within the context of promoting excellence in European research. They provide opportunities for individual researchers and organisations, universities, research institutes and companies to develop their research skills and training capacity, by building on industrial and academic expertise within Europe and across the world through staff exchanges, secondments, postgraduate and postdoctoral fellowships.