This page contains updates from the UK Research Office collating updates from the European Commission on the impact of Coronavirus on research applications and awards.
For Horizon 2020 and EU funded projects, in the absence of any instruction to the contrary from the EC, participants should continue to advise the Project Officer and/or (in the case of a collaborative project) the Coordinator in the case of any circumstance that is likely to affect the implementation of the project.
EU Initiatives and Funding Opportunities
AI-ROBOTICS vs COVID-19 initiative
The initiative aims to create a unique repository that is easily accessible to all citizens, stakeholders and policymakers and become part of the common European response to the outbreak of COVID-19. It is seeking input on three main fronts:
- You have developed an AI system or built a robotic tool that can be deployed either immediately or in the short to mid-term in the context of disease prevention, diagnosis or treatment.
- You are an individual or part of an organisation that has already launched an initiative involving your community and other stakeholders in a discussion on the role that technology and AI in particular could play during the current healthcare crisis.
You have further ideas or would like to share relevant Information (including other initiatives).
Update from UKRO 21st May 2020
Rapid Societal Challenge 1 Call on Covid-19 – Preliminary Information
The European Commission will shortly launch a second request for expressions of interest for 'innovative and rapid health-related approaches to respond to COVID-19 and to deliver quick results for society for a higher level of preparedness of health systems'.
This will be a second Covid-19 related rapid call under the Horizon 2020 Societal Challenge 1. The focus will be not to develop new diagnostics, therapeutics or vaccines, but rather to complete and deploy readily available compounds. The four expected topics would include:
- Social and economic impacts of fighting the Coronavirus pandemic and its immediate consequences to contain and mitigate the outbreak;
- Pan-European COVID-19 cohorts united against the pandemic;
- Manufacturing adaptability and resilience to improve industrial systems response, recovery and preparedness; and
- Medical technologies, Digital tools and Artificial Intelligence analytics to improve surveillance and care.
The call should open imminently (as of May 19th) and remain open for a period of 4 weeks. The European Commission is organising an information day on the call on May 20th and has released the Agenda - 2nd COVID call info day [pdf] which contains details of the event.
This call results from the ERAvsCorona Action Plan, agreed in April 2020 to enhance and coordinate EU research and innovation response to the Covid-19 pandemic. It will complement the first rapid SC1 call, which funded 18 projects.
European Research Area (ERA) Corona Platform
In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, the European Commission has launched the European Research Area (ERA) Corona Platform on its Funding & Tenders Portal to make information related to the COVID-19 outbreak and its impact on Horizon 2020 grants available in a single place.
The page is still under construction, but already includes links to the COVID-19 FAQs, a list of Horizon 2020 deadlines that have been extended and links to other useful resources. In the future, it will also include links to the relevant pages of EU Member States and will be a one-stop-shop for applicants and beneficiaries of Horizon funds looking for information about the COVID-19 outbreak.
European Commission Answers to Frequently Asked Questions on Horizon 2020 Projects
The European Commission has published answers to some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) on the COVID-19 outbreak and its impact on Horizon 2020 projects and calls for proposals:
Project implementation/eligibility of costs
- Can the clause on “force majeure” in the Horizon 2020 grant agreement be invoked in relation to the COVID-19 outbreak?
- Related to the Covid-19 outbreak, is it possible in Horizon 2020 grants to postpone the starting date of the action?
- Related to the Covid-19 outbreak, how will the funding bodies handle possible delays in submitting deliverables and reports in Horizon 2020 grants?
- Related to the Covid-19 outbreak, what happens in Horizon 2020 grants if beneficiaries cannot submit all/complete elements for their reports related to interim and final payments?
- Is there any possibility to extend the project duration of Horizon 2020 grants due to the Covid-19 situation?
- What happens to costs in Horizon 2020 grants when there are difficulties in implementing the action due to the Covid-19 situation?
- Is there any possibility to rapidly re-direct work in on-going Horizon 2020 projects to help tackling the Covid-19 outbreak?
- Related to the COVID-19 outbreak, how will ERCEA handle delays in the project implementation, including as regards the impossibility to fulfil the Principle Investigator (PI) time-commitment obligations under the Horizon 2020 ERC grants?
- What about Horizon 2020 grants involving public procurement when there are difficulties in implementing procurement contracts due to the COVID-19 outbreak?
- What supporting documentation must beneficiaries of Horizon 2020 grants keep to prove the impact of 'force majeure' or delays in the submission of deliverables, reports or implementation of the action due to COVID-19 outbreak?
- Will there be flexibility for beneficiaries in H2020 lump sum pilot grants, if the work packages cannot be completed at the end of the reporting period due to COVID-19 outbreak?
- How can beneficiaries support the hours worked in the Horizon 2020 action if the employees cannot sign or have their timesheets countersigned due to the COVID-19 pandemic measures?
- In Horizon 2020 grants, what happens to costs for equipment purchased exclusively for the action implementation when it cannot be used due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the related confinement measures?
- In Horizon 2020 grants, will there be any flexibility given in relation to beneficiaries' usual travel costs practices due to the COVID-19 pandemic?
Project implementation/eligibility of costs - MSCA
- In case a H2020 Marie-Sklodowska-Curie Global Fellowships researcher decides to return to Europe during the outbreak, what will happen with the project? If teleworking is allowed, can the MSCA researcher telework either in a third country or in Europe?
- One of the requirements under MSCA projects is the “mobility rule” (see Part 3 of the Horizon 2020 Work Programme 2018-2020). What happens if the mobility rule can no longer be fulfilled as a consequence of the COVID-19 related travel restrictions?
- Can the beneficiary in Horizon 2020 Marie-Sklodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) pay the MSCA researcher less during the COVID-19 period, such as not to pay a mobility allowance as the researcher cannot travel?
- What happens to researcher costs in Horizon 2020 Marie-Sklodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) when there are difficulties in implementing the MSCA action due to the COVID-19 situation?
- Will the Commission/Agency be flexible if beneficiaries need to modify the researcher recruitment and working conditions due to the COVID-19 outbreak (e.g. suspend MSCA researcher’s contract or include part-time working arrangements)?
- Related to the COVID-19 outbreak, how will the Commission/Research Executive Agency (REA) handle delays in the project implementation in Horizon 2020 Marie-Sklodowska-Curie (MSCA) ongoing grants?
Experts and proposal evaluations
Confirmed New Deadlines for Horizon 2020 Calls
The following new deadlines have now been confirmed on the Funding and Tenders Portal:
Deadline extended to 22 September:
H2020-INNOSUP-2018-2020 (stage 2)
Deadline extended to 19 November:
H2020-JTI-IMI2-2020-20-two-stage (stage 2)
Deadline extended to 16 February 2021:
All deadlines are at 17:00 CET (Brussels time) and are provided for information only. For legally binding information on call deadlines, please, visit the Funding and Tenders Portal.
Research Executive Agency
On 27 March, the Research Executive Agency (REA), responsible for the implementation of several parts of Horizon 2020, updated its pages on business continuity measures. In addition to earlier messages about extended Horizon 2020 call deadlines, new information on remote evaluation, contracting expert evaluators, and grant management is now available. Evaluations of ongoing and upcoming proposals are being organised remotely. Furthermore, grant management activities are continuing, however REA response time may be affected due to IT constraints. Finally, beneficiaries are encouraged to follow @REA_research on Twitter, as decisions may change anytime due to exceptional circumstances.
European Research Council
The ERC have posted a statement on their website stating that they are doing their upmost to remain fully operational during this period, that grant management activities continue as normal (although technical issues may slow some processes down) and that panel evaluations are currently being organised remotely. They do not currently anticipate any delays to evaluations or application deadlines.
Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions
The Research Executive Agency (REA) have released a statement advising grantees and fellows to follow the travel advice provided by national authorities and to cancel or postpone all non-essential travel where possible. REA will adopt a flexible approach towards projects, which fail to meet grant agreement obligations due to the COVID-19 containment measures, and may apply the rules on force majeure, or extend the duration of projects. Projects will be assessed on a case-by-case basis and grantees and fellows should speak to their Project Officer if they require support.