Horizon 2020&SC6

Horizon 2020 is the EU Research and Innovation programme with nearly €80 billion of funding available over 7 years (2014-2020). One of the societal challenges within Horizon 2020 is the Societal Challenge 6: "Europe in a changing world - inclusive, innovative and reflective societies".


Horizon 2020 is the EU Research and Innovation programme with nearly €80 billion of funding available over 7 years (2014-2020). Horizon 2020 reflects the policy priorities of the Europe 2020 strategy and addresses major concerns shared by citizens in Europe and elsewhere. By using a challenge-based approach, resources and knowledge across different fields, technologies and disciplines, including social sciences and the humanities (SSH), can be brought together. One of these challenges is the Societal Challenge 6: Europe in a changing world - inclusive, innovative and reflective societies".

Thematic priorities for Socio-economic Sciences and the Humanities in Horizon 2020

Reducing inequalities and social exclusion in Europe (80 million people at risk of poverty, 14 million young people not in education, employment or training), overcoming the economic and financial crisis and tackling unemployment (12% in EU and above 20% of youth unemployment in 2012) are crucial challenges for the future of Europe. At the same time, there is great potential for Europe through opportunities provided, for example, by new forms of innovation and by the engagement of citizens. Supporting inclusive, innovative and reflective societies is a prerequisite for a sustainable European integration.

The emergence of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS), and therefore of a multipolar world, the ageing of the EU population and the need for more innovation call for a renewed understanding of this rapidly changing world. This understanding is supported by strong multidisciplinary approaches, including social sciences and humanities and information and communication technologies. European and national policies need to continue modernisation while acknowledging the socio-economic and cultural diversity in Europe, and improved knowledge about how our modern societies work.

EU research and innovation will address social exclusion, discriminations and various forms of inequalities. It will explore new forms of innovation and strengthen the evidence base for the Innovation Union, the European Research Area and other relevant EU policies. It will promote coherent and effective cooperation with third countries. Finally, it will address the issues of memories, identities, tolerance and cultural heritage.

Key future research and innovation actions for 2014 and 2015 will focus on:

  • New ideas, strategies and governance structures for overcoming the crisis in Europe (resilient economic and monetary Union, EU growth agenda, EU social policies, the future of European integration, emerging technologies in the public sector).
  • The young generation in an innovative, inclusive and sustainable Europe (job insecurity, youth mobility, adult education, social and political engagement of young people, modernisation of public administrations).
  • Reflective societies: transmission of European cultural heritage, uses of the past, 3D modelling for accessing EU cultural assets.
  • Europe as a global actor: focusing research and innovation cooperation with third countries, new geopolitical order in the Mediterranean, EU eastern partnership and other third countries.
  • New forms of innovation in the public sector, open government, business model innovation, social innovation community, ICT for learning and inclusion.

In short, this Societal Challenge of the Horizon 2020 programme aims at fostering a greater understanding of Europe, by providing solutions and support inclusive, innovative and reflective European societies with an innovative public sector in a context of unprecedented transformations and growing global interdependencies.

Societal Challenge 6 is divided into three pillars which specify the thematic priorities for the duration of Horizon 2020 (2014-2020):

„6.1 Inclusive societies“

The objective of this part of Societal Challenge 6 is to understand, analyse and develop social, economic and political inclusion, as well as inclusive labour markets, to combat poverty and marginalisation, enhance human rights, digital inclusiveness, equality, solidarity and inter-cultural dynamics by supporting cutting-edge science, interdisciplinary research, development of indicators, technologica advances, organisational innovations, development of regional innovation clusters and new forms of collaboration and co-creation. Focuses research shall allow policy makers to analyse and assess the impact and effectiveness of envisaged measures, in particular in favour of social inclusion. Social sciences and humanities research has a leading role to play in this context.

„6.2 Innovative societies“

The aim of this pillar is to explore the socio-economic potentials of knowledge production in Europe in order to increase the efficiency of research and innovation policies and their transnational policy synergies and coherence. Innovation will be adressed in a wide sense, including large-scale policy-, social-, user- and market-driven innovation. The experience and innovative power of creative and cultural industries will be taken into account. These activities are supposed to support the achievement and functioning of the "European Research Area" (ERA) and in particular the Europe 2020 flagship initiatives "Innovation Union" and the "Digital Agenda for Europe".

„6.3 Reflective societies“

The aim of the "Reflective societies" part is a contribution to an understanding of Europe's intellectual basis, its history and the many European and non-European influcences as a source of inspiration. The diversity of people in Europe (including minorities and indigenous people), their traditions as well as regional and national identities and the different levels of economic and societal development will be considered. By using new technologies, yet unexploited resources in European collections, libraries, archives, museums, galleries and other public institutions shall be made available to researchers and citizens to enable a look into the future through the archived past.