Outside of Societal Challenge 6, which is Horizon 2020’s social sciences, arts and humanities (SSH)-focused challenge, there are a multitude of opportunities available for SSH researchers.

As a cross-cutting research area of broad relevance, social sciences, arts and humanities are integrated into each of the general objectives of Horizon 2020 (H2020). Funding interdisciplinary research which includes SSH as a key voice across H2020 is vital to enhancing industrial leadership and tackling every one of the societal challenges.

For more information on all the different areas of H2020 funding, please see the European Commission page on Horizon 2020 sections. You can search for the relevant National Contact Point (NCP) for each aspect of H2020 funding on the European Commission: National Contact Point web page. Each NCP is able to offer specialised advice, information and guidance in their area of expertise.

Screenshot of the EC National Contact page

Societal challenges

Some of the funding opportunities most relevant to SSH researchers can be found in the societal challenge pillar. The seven societal challenges contained within this pillar are:

  1. Health, demographic change and wellbeing;
  2. Food security, sustainable agriculture and forestry, marine and maritime and inland water research, and the Bioeconomy;
  3. Secure, clean and efficient energy;
  4. Smart, green and integrated transport;
  5. Climate action, environment, resource efficiency and raw materials;
  6. Europe in a changing world - inclusive, innovative and reflective societies;
  7. Secure societies - protecting freedom and security of Europe and its citizens.

Each societal challenge aims to address concerns shared by citizens across Europe and the world. The work programmes contain details on the funding opportunities available in each challenge. The societal challenge pillar is “top‑down” so proposals must directly address the text in the relevant work programme.

Image representing seven societal changes

EU exit and Societal Challenges

In a “no-deal” scenario the UK government’s underwrite and guarantee extension cover the funding opportunities available in the Societal Challenges, as long as eligibility criteria are fulfilled.  Please note that in a “no-deal” scenario, the UK would automatically become a Third Country in Horizon 2020.

Third Country participants in Horizon 2020 are eligible to both participate and coordinate projects and the guarantee/extension will cover the costs of UK project coordination. Eligibility criteria should be complied with for the duration of the grant (e.g. at least three legal entities from three different EU Member States or Associated Countries should be included in any consortium).

For more information, please see the UKRI EU Exit pages, the UK government H2020 Fact Pack, the UKRO Horizon 2020 Factsheets (if you are an UKRO subscriber), or contact the relevant NCP.

Searching for SSH funding opportunities

If you are not sure whether your research is covered by any of the “top-down”, directed calls you can search all open and upcoming opportunities which are published on the Funding & Tenders Portal. The European Commission flags “topics” (funding opportunities) relevant to SSH researchers and you can find these by filtering by cross-cutting priority “Socio-economic science and humanities”. This can be combined with any other search by programme part, focus area or key word.

Net4Society, the network of Societal Challenge 6 NCPs, also produces a comprehensive document “Opportunities for Researchers from the Socio-economic Sciences and Humanities (SSH) in Horizon 2020”. This document is designed to help potential proposers find SSH-related topics across the different parts of the H2020 programme and includes topics additional to the ones flagged by the European Commission.

Net4 society document front cover - click to open document

Please note that “bottom-up” research, rather than “top-down” opportunities can be found in “pillar one”, known as Excellent Science. This contains opportunities to apply for funding in any field of research, via European Research Council (ERC) proposals, as well as opportunities for mobility and knowledge exchange, via Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions.

For a detailed explanation of how to find relevant cross-cutting SSH opportunities within H2020, please see the webinar video below:

EU exit and MSCA or ERC grants

In a “no-deal” scenario the UK government’s underwrite and guarantee extension covers some of the funding opportunities available for European Research Council (ERC) grants and Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA).

Existing projects (i.e. those awarded before EU Exit) are covered by the UK government underwrite – please register on the UKRI portal as soon as possible. Mono-beneficiary grants covered by the Guarantee are assumed to be able to continue independently of Horizon 2020. If you are a mono beneficiary project that may not be able to continue please see the guidance on the UKRI EU Exit Ineligible Projects page.

“In-flight” applications for mono-beneficiary schemes submitted before EU Exit (even if the call deadline is after EU Exit) will be managed by UKRI in the case that the European Commission does not complete evaluation of bids. More information can be found on the UKRI EU Exit In-Flight Applications page.

The guarantee extension, covering UK participation in successful proposals submitted after EU exit, only applies to opportunities open to Third Country participants. Third Country participants in Horizon 2020 are only eligible for European Research Council (ERC) grants and Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) in quite specific scenarios (for example ERC Synergy, MSCA RISE or MSCA ITNs). It is still possible to apply but it is highly recommended to consult the relevant NCP before doing so.

Please note that in a “no-deal” scenario, the UK would automatically become a Third Country in Horizon 2020.

For more information, please see the UKRI EU Exit pages, the UK government H2020 Fact Pack, the UKRO Horizon 2020 Factsheets (if you are an UKRO subscriber), or contact the relevant NCP.

SSH integration monitoring and successes

For examples of SSH integration in practice please see Net4Society’s factsheets on successful integration of SSH in Horizon 2020 and success stories in SSH integration. These contain short but informative interviews from across all areas of H2020 funding as well as a summary of key issues and good practices.

The European Commission publish an annual report monitoring the development of SSH as a cross-cutting issue within the H2020 programme. The fourth, most recent, version of this report was published in February 2019 and covers grants funded during 2017. The report contains details of the level and quality of “SSH integration” across H2020-funded projects as well as specific examples of projects in each section, selected for showing good practice with regards to the quality of SSH integration.

Front cover of report - click to open report