Funding from the Government to the support provided to Horizon Europe launched in November 2021 will be extended, it was announced this week. This guarantee comes as efforts continue for the UK’s association to the large-scale research programme to be formalised. The funding will now be in place for awards expected to be signed by the end of December 2022.
The UK and EU had agreed upon terms in the Trade and Cooperation Agreement last year that would ensure the UK’s association to the Horizon Programme. However. this has not yet been formalised due to wider disputes with the UK over the post-Brexit settlement. There have been various calls for action on this subject from private companies, politicians and trade bodies alike (including BIVDA signing a joint statement from the European Stakeholder association).
The Stick to Science initiative has been set up by the European research community calling for open and barrier-free collaboration among Europe’s research and innovation (R&I) actors. This is an active response to the delayed progression of association agreements with Switzerland and the UK, which it says “are being held up by political barriers that have nothing to do with science”.
Last November, the UK launched the first tranche of guarantee funds, backstopping the first wave of Horizon calls. There were some complaints of the safety net not going far enough to ensure research efforts could continue in line with previous support. This new round of funding has therefore been designed by Government teams to plug those gaps.
The Government has said that Horizon association remains its first choice, but it is also working on an alternative if it decides it can’t wait any longer. IN a letter explaining the extension, George Freeman MP commented that the Government “cannot wait forever” on this issue, and that the guarantee “is designed to provide seamless continuity so that if we do not associate, funding under this guarantee will provide stability for the UK sector whilst our longer-term alternative international research programme is put in place.”
Full info on the funding extension, which will continue to be delivered through UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) can be found here.