Positive news for UK scientists today as a new deal has been reached which allows UK researchers to once again apply for grants and bids to take place under the Horizon Europe programme.
The new ‘bespoke’ deal, which is 'set to create and support thousands of new jobs as part of the next generation of research talent' in the UK, comes after talks between UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and EU Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen on Wednesday resulted in the agreement that the UK and EU will work together to boost participation.
This new deal has been negotiated over the past six months. Brexit and a disagreement over the Northern Ireland protocol were the reason for any UK participation in the programme being revoked for the last three years.
The UK government says that the Prime Minister ‘has secured improved financial terms of association to Horizon Europe that are right for the UK – increasing the benefits to UK scientists, value for money for the UK taxpayer, and mitigating the impact that the EU’s delays to our association will have on participation rates of researchers’.
The UK will also associate to Copernicus, the European Earth Observation programme. This will provide the UK’s earth observation sector with access to unique data – valuable to helping with early flood and fire warnings, for example – and with the ability to bid for contracts, which they haven’t been able to access for three years.
In line with the preferences of the UK fusion sector, the UK has decided to pursue a domestic fusion energy strategy instead of associating to the EU’s Euratom programme. This will involve close international collaboration, including with European partners, and a new, cutting-edge alternative programme, backed by up to £650 million to 2027. It will ensure UK taxpayer funding is spent in the UK’s best interests.
"Today is a fantastic day for UK science and our whole economy. We have listened to the sector, and through hard work and negotiation we have secured an excellent deal for researchers, taxpayers and businesses," says Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology Michelle Donelan. "The Horizon programme is unrivalled in its scope and opens up a world of opportunity for cooperation on science that delivers real-world benefits for the UK - creating jobs, boosting our economy and opening up collaboration for the sector with some of our closest partners, whether on tackling climate change or advancing cancer research".
“This is excellent news for academic researchers in the UK and also in the EU, both in terms of funding and the opportunity to collaborate, which in turn will step up innovation between the UK and the EU. It is also excellent news for the UK’s deeptech community, much of which is sourced on research coming out of universities, and equally importantly talented researchers and founders, which will continue to be attracted to the UK as the leading deeptech ecosystem in the EU," says Max Bautin, Managing Partner, IQ Capital.
"There will be relief throughout the research community that the uncertainty of the last two and a half years has come to an end. Nearly three quarters of respondents to our survey of cancer researchers cited funding from the EU as important for their work, showing how crucial Horizon Europe association is for the future of cancer research," says Michelle Mitchell, Chief Executive of Cancer Research UK.