Study shows which countries received the most funding by the EU for sustainability

Special from

European Union set up the Horizon 2020 Framework Programme that looked into smart energy systems for a sustainable and renewable energy future
European Union set up the Horizon 2020 Framework Programme that looked into smart energy systems for a sustainable and renewable energy future (illustration:

In order to tackle the Energy Challenge (a globally recognised commitment to reduce carbon emissions), the European Union set up the Horizon 2020 Framework Programme (2014-2020) – the biggest EU research and innovation project looking into smart energy systems for a sustainable and renewable energy future.

Interested in sustainable energy, analysed data on Smart Energy Systems within the Horizon 2020 programme to discover the countries receiving the most funding for their projects.

Countries that received the most funding
The country awarded the most funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 programme, with a massive sum of EUR 160,148,586, is Spain (41.41% of the total funding). Spain boasts 15 research and innovation projects accounting to nearly 25% of the total 58 projects included in the data. The most prolific project amounting to nearly 20% (EUR 31,874,538) of Spain’s funding, belongs to SmartEnCity, concentrating on thermal energy, cooling, electricity, and gas. The purpose of its IA (Innovation Action) funding is to demonstrate its idea and concept to the market.

With 17.22% of the funding, Italy is in second place receiving EUR 66,592,870. In total, Italy coordinates 11 projects – nearly 19% of the total 58 projects analysed. REWARDHeat, (specialising in the thermal energy vector) received 28.57% of the country’s total funds. The project received EUR 19,023,298 as an IA fund in order to show its feasibility to the market.

Following in third place, is France, after being awarded 12.36% of the total funding – amounting to EUR 47,779,515. France’s five projects add up to 8.5% of all 58 projects analysed and its top project belongs to SMARTER TOGETHER, amassing a whopping 62.37% (EUR 29,801,762 for its IA funding scheme) of the country’s total funding within the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme. The project’s aim is to discover Smart and Inclusive Solutions for a Better Life in Urban Districts and has been ongoing for nearly 5 years.

Interestingly, can reveal that the UK received 7.5% of the funding which is equivalent to a staggering EUR 28,998,672. Although the UK has officially left the European Union, the Brexit deal secured an agreement to continue the Horizon 2020 Framework Programme and its six projects count towards 10% of Horizon’s total projects. Its biggest project THERMOSS, with an IA funding scheme, brought in 30.33% (EUR 8,796,474) of the country’s funding – concentrating in heating and cooling systems operating within building and grid/district (complex energy system) infrastructures.

In fifth place is Finland with 4.93% (EUR 19,083,828) of Horizon 2020 Framework Programme’s funding. Out of Finland’s two research and innovation projects, STORY brought in 80.45% of the country’s funding – a massive EUR 15,353,840 in comparison to Finland’s other project Spine, which acquired EUR 3,729,988 (19.55%). Spine was funded as an RIA (Research and Innovation Action) scheme which investigates the achievability of new sustainable solutions.


Countries that received the least funding
The country who received the least funding from the EU’s Horizon 2020 Framework Programme is Ireland with 0.52% (EUR 1,999,849) of the total funding awarded – a stark contrast to Spain’s 41.41%. This is largely due to the fact Ireland coordinated only one project, E2District, which received EUR 1,999,849.

Austria is the second least funded country within Horizon’s Programme as its two projects were awarded only EUR 4,725,175, amounting to 1.22% of all funding. HotMaps was given 63.42% of the country’s research and innovation funding for its RIA scheme into the heating and cooling energy sectors. According to a study, Austria was considered the third most interested country in saving the planet so its low funding ranking is not a reflection of its population’s sustainability desire.

Following on, Israel ranks as the third least funded country by the EU scheme – the country was awarded 1.59% (EUR 6,139,296) of Horizon’s funding for its only project. Interestingly, TOPAs is the only project within the Horizon 2020 Framework Programme not coordinated by a western or northern European country. With an IA funding scheme, the project’s objective looked into the singular use of controlling temperature within different areas of one building.