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Reassociation to Horizon Europe officially sealed

By December 20, 2023No Comments

The UK’s association to the world-leading Horizon and Copernicus programmes was officially sealed as Science and Technology Secretary Michelle Donelan visited Brussels last week to turbo-charge efforts to maximise UK involvement.

This deal is set to create and support thousands of new jobs as part of the next generation of research talent. It will help deliver the Prime Minister’s ambition to grow the economy and cement the UK as a science and technology superpower by 2030.

As part of the new deal negotiated over the last six months, the Prime Minister secured improved financial terms of association to Horizon that are right for the UK – increasing the benefits to UK scientists, value for money for the UK taxpayer.

The Secretary of State has met with the EU Research and Innovation Commissioner Iliana Ivanova, as officials signed the agreement to formalise the bespoke deal secured by the UK Prime Minister in September.

This marks the start of a concerted push for UK businesses and researchers to seize the enormous opportunity presented by working in the world’s largest programme of research cooperation, alongside their EU, Norwegian, and Israeli colleagues and more, with Canada set to also join soon.

Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology Michelle Donelan said:

‘Being part of Horizon and Copernicus is a colossal win for the UK’s science, research and business communities, as well as for economic growth and job creation – all part of the long-term decisions the UK government is taking to secure a brighter future.

‘The UK led a quarter of the work we were involved in through Horizon’s predecessor, so we know from recent history the importance of the UK’s skills and expertise in making this programme work, and it is vital that we seize this moment.’

With participation in Horizon fulfilling a top ask from the UK science community, the moment is now for the UK’s best-in-class research expertise to bring to bear on global challenges from tackling climate change to treating cancer. Researchers, academics, and businesses of all sizes can confidently bid for a share of the more than £80 billion available through the two programmes, with calls for the 2024 Work Programme already open. It builds on the government’s record-breaking backing for R&D, with a commitment to invest £20 billion in UK R&D by 2024-25, borne out in recent announcements like the £500 million boost to the AI Research resource and £50 million for battery manufacturing R&D, announced in the Autumn Statement.

The Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT) will shortly launch a communications campaign to maximise participation in Horizon and Copernicus from researchers, academics and businesses of all sizes in the UK. This PR push will shine a light on the real-world examples of the benefits Horizon and Copernicus participation can deliver for academics, researchers and businesses, right across the UK – particularly small and medium-sized businesses involved in R&D, which might not have previously considered applying.

Alongside this, in a partnership with the British Academy and other key backers, support will be made available to selected UK researchers applying for Horizon for the first time, through ‘pump priming’ funding, with up to £10,000 available per application. The funding will be available to support applications to Pillar 2 of Horizon Europe, and will encourage those researchers who have not previously had experience, including next generation researchers, to apply. The fund will be targeted to ensure it maximises the UK’s involvement in Horizon.

Encouraging smaller businesses to pitch for, and win, Horizon and Copernicus funding supports DSIT’s aim to help the UK’s promising science and tech firms scale-up and grow. Officials will work closely with key sector stakeholders to ensure this message reaches businesses of all kinds, who might not have previously considered applying, as well as researchers and academics in every part of the country.

Ben Kemp