Horizon Programme

In astronomy, the Horizon is the farthest point that you can see when looking forward. The Zenith is the highest point in the sky when looking upwards. For NGI, both Horizon and Zenith represent visionary research beyond present borders.


The Horizon programme was set up as a breeding ground for talented researchers active in genomics and/or bioinformatics. It aimed to:

  • focus on the development of individual talented researchers
  • support innovative research
  • stimulate valorisation of research results

Horizon seeked to offer early career genomics and bioinformatics researchers attractive career prospects within academia and research institutions by stimulating and supporting them to set up or expand their own research area and research group.

Horizon aimed to promote and coordinate outstanding and visionary fundamental research by offering researchers the freedom to realise their ideas and concepts beyond existing disciplines.

The research supported by the Horizon programme is future-oriented. Researchers were given the opportunity to respond rapidly to new hypotheses or technologies.

In addition, the Horizon programme seeked to achieve valorisation of the results obtained in the research projects. Project leaders were therefore expected to adopt an active attitude towards valorisation.

Programme set-up

The Horizon programme was set up in two phases.

In the first phase, researchers were given the opportunity to show their talent during a short research project: the Breakthrough project. The objective of these projects is to explore innovative ideas and establish proof-of-concept. Seven rounds of Breakthrough projects have been launched, with calls for proposals in the period 2003-2011. A total of
135 Breakthrough projects have been awarded.

In the second phase, researchers with proven talent (either by means of a successful Breakthrough projects or otherwise) could apply for a larger research project: the Zenith Project (at first called “Horizon Project”). To be eligible for a Zenith Project, a proof-of-concept is required. Zenith Projects are aimed at elaborating a proven concept into a mature research line and supporting talented researchers to set up or expand their own research group. Four rounds of Zenith/Horizon Projects were organised, in which 34 Zenith/Horizon Projects were awarded.

This set-up resulted in high numbers of peer-reviewed publications and resulted in valorisation of research results and gaining of intellectual property. Especially the concept of Breakthrough projects surpassed expectations, being successful in attracting innovative ideas, focussed research, publications in journals with the highest impact factors, patent applications, contacts with industry and even the set-up of a spin-off company.

Horizon organised calls between 2003 and 2012. No further calls will be organised in the future.

Horizon Valorisation Project Grant

The Horizon Valorisation Project Grant (HVPG) was available for researchers that had already been awarded a Horizon Breakthrough project or Horizon Project.

The HVPG's goal was to further support valorisation of research results. The grant was used to validate research, or perform pre-clinical research or (further) clinical research to improve the valorisation potential of the research. So far, 11 HVPG projects have been awarded.

HVPG is not open for application anymore.

Horizon Results

Throughout the Horizon programme, an impressive number of 1.111 project proposals have been submitted. 180 applicants have received the grant they have been aiming for and went ahead with their project.

A taste of their visionary research:

Researchers on the value of the Horizon programme:



Watch other videos on NGI YouTube channel:


new frontiers

for young