Europe’s Future and Emerging Technologies (FET) Open program goes beyond what is known. Seventh year running, it’s now in its last leg with €196.20 to be given away to about 60 ideas with the potential to change the world. Extremely competitive, the winning odds for the upcoming April Call are better than ever.
FET-Open (Future & Emerging Technologies) is one of the most popular and most competitive funding programs of EU’s Horizon 2020 initiative. For applying innovators are required to form a consortium of at least three legal entities established in different EU Member States or Horizon2020 associated countries. They can request a contribution of upto €3 millions at a funding rate of 100%.
The program aims at research that goes beyond what is currently known or even imagined. Therefore, it does not prescribe any research themes, is open to all sciences and disciplines and encourages unconventional collaborations. A rigorous bottom-up selection process is in place to establish a diverse portfolio of projects.
What Projects Are Funded?
The Call for Proposals FET-Open Challenging Current Thinking, under the European Innovation Council — Pathfinder Pilot, supports collaborative research and innovation actions dedicated to high-risk high-gain ideas which will bring emerging technologies into the market. FET-Open is open to all types of technological domains or sectors of applications, although Electronics / Telecom / Hardware / Sensors happens to be the most funded category with Life Science / Medicine / Biology being a close second.
Who Are The FET-Open Participants?
Over half of the FET-Open participants are European Universities. A little over a quarter of participants are Research Organizations. SMEs and industry are the next major participants with 13.6% and 7.9% respectively. Public bodies and non-governmental agencies are occasional participants.
The FET-Open Criteria: Gatekeepers:
To get there, applicants need to make sure to pass all the following gatekeepers of the FET workprogram:
If your research doesn’t reach far beyond the immediate future, it’s not FET-Open material.
Breakthrough scientific and technological target
If your research idea does not contain a clearly identified breakthrough or is blue-sky, it’s not FET-Open stuff.
If your proposal tackles the next logical step of an already existing concept or proposes a continuation of a previous project, it’s not for FET-Open.
If it doesn’t envisage a new line of investigation leading to a new technology, currently not anticipated, it’s not a FET-Open proposal.
If your research methods are not adapted to explore unknown territory with potential high risk but also high gain, it’s not worth FET-Open.
If you team up only with collaborators from your are of expertise, it’s not FET-Open material.
What it takes?
It takes time, dedication, focus, and most importantly the influence. Preparing for FET-Open is like preparing for the Olympics. May be more challenging than Olympics. For preparing for individual events in Olympics it’s only an individual’s effort that counts. For FET-Open your world-changing innovation cannot knock the FET-Open door unless you have at least two more centers of excellence joining you in a consortium. That may a tall order for freelancers that only innovators associated with highly reputed centers of excellence can meet. Although, EU provides advice and guidance to innovators through National Contact Points, but that’s only namesake. NCPs are supposed to review your draft and advise if your idea has a chance, but that rarely happens unless you are privileged.
The Last Horizon 2020 FET-Open Call
In its last year, Horizon 2020 has allotted the highest budget ever for a single FET-Open call -€196.20 coming up in May, 2020. Next year the program will transcend to Horizon Europe and it’s difficult to predict what shape or form FET-Open will take.
Considering the fund size and prevailing COVID-19 epidemic situation we analyzed the data from 2014 onwards, and projected the outcome of the 2020 call due next month. The analyzed data is presented in the following table.
The FET-Open success rate has been consistently rising since its launch, from 1.5%, the lowest, to 11.8%, the highest, last year. This is essentially because of the gradual increase in the FET-Open grant budget since 2014. This year the increase in funding odds may actually jump up significantly to an estimated 14–17.7% as the impact of COVID-19 is expected to add up to the increased budget. Expect highest ever per call grantees this year.
Good Luck :)