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The Future and Emerging Technologies (FET) grants in the 2018 Work Programme

August 09 2017

The Future and Emerging Technologies (FET) has gained some exciting new content in the 2018-2020 work programme, although the general outline of the programme is unchanged. Here, we describe what worked, what changed, and where future opportunities may emerge for you. But first, we will revisit what FET is.

FET aims to boost European leadership by funding dynamic multi-disciplinary collaborations between scientist of different fields together with entrepreneurs in different markets, hence kick-starting new research and innovation eco-systems around them. A good way to stay competitive is to open up promising avenues towards powerful new technologies. Forward thinking and going beyond what we know is a prerequisite for that. So, the FET is for visionary thinkers with the guts to act upon their vision of the future. 

Historic view: what has been successful?

In the most recent (second) cut-off of 2017, 26 research and innovation proposals and 2 coordination proposals were funded (7,1% and 22% of applications, respectively). The round before that, these numbers were 22 (4%) and 3 (30%). In the light of the success rates of Horizon 2020 proposals, this is nothing out of the ordinary; the proposal must be excellent on all levels and you need to be a little lucky.

Looking with more detail to the funded projects, it stands out that many of them (e.g. artificial organs and useable quantum mechanics) are somewhat eerie but exciting, depending on your level of comfort with futuristic science. As advertised, they bring together seemingly hard-to-make-compatible disciplines. “Buzzwords” from the previous round include nanotechnologies, alternative batteries, various material sciences terms, and technology that enables novel ways of computing and information transport. The latter two may not be surprising as they were pushed by having specific, separate calls for them. Of the life science focused projects, all of them include some form of technologic innovation that is not typically found in the life sciences.  

Direct changes in the 2018-2020 work programme

Thanks to the 15 members of the High-Level Group of Innovators (supporting the formation of the European Innovation Council), the FET programme should be better able to support disruptive breakthrough innovations that have the potential to create new markets, thereby securing the future of the European jobs market. The latter represents the economic rationale. On a pragmatic, topical angle, the new programme has some perks as well, although the changes that were made are marginal.


The FET-OPEN continues to challenge the current thinking.


The programme continues the Launchpad call that allows for enhanced marketability of the outcomes of specific projects, by funding business and exploitations activities.


The FET-PROACTIVE programme has new, set themes:

  1. Artificial organs, tissues, cells and sub-cellular structures.
  2. Time.
  3. Living technologies.
  4. Disruptive micro-energy and storage technologies.
  5. Topological matter (quantum physics).
  6. Community building in neuromorphic computing technologies.

New perspectives: what is being pushed?

The FET programme is a great way for European researchers to dip their toes into future solutions to society’s grand challenges. Wild ideas are generally at the core of successful applications. Be wary however; you have to walk the fine line between creative and feasible. FET is also one of the chosen podiums to push nanotechnology further and to creatively combine the living with the mechanic. We encourage you to make your right brain do the work, but be sure to have the left follow closely.

More information about the H2020 2018-2020 work programme

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