Photo: Illustration (Courtesy of BEIS)

UK government sets up safety net for Horizon Europe applicants

The UK government has established a new financial safety net to provide certainty for successful Horizon Europe applicants as UK’s efforts to associate with the EU’s key funding programme for research and innovation continue.

Illustration (Courtesy of BEIS)
Illustration (Courtesy of BEIS)

Successful applicants for Horizon Europe grant awards will be guaranteed funding regardless of the outcome of the UK’s efforts to associate to Horizon Europe, under a new scheme announced by the government on 29 November 2021.

Horizon Europe is the EU’s key funding programme for research and innovation with a budget of €95.5 billion, set up to tackle climate change, provide help to achievene the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, and to boost the EU’s competitiveness and growth.

While the government’s priority remains association to Horizon Europe, as both the UK and the EU agreed under the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) last year, ongoing delays by the EU have led to uncertainty for researchers, businesses and innovators based in the UK, according to the government.

To provide reassurance, the government has guaranteed funding for the first wave of eligible, successful applicants to Horizon Europe, but who have been unable to sign grant agreements with the EU, as a short-term measure until the EU formalises the UK’s association with the programme.

The funding will be delivered through UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), which will publish further details about eligibility, scope and how to apply in the coming weeks.

UK’s science, research and innovation minister George Freeman said: “The Horizon programme has been a vital source of fellowships and collaborations for UK researchers over the years, which is why the UK and the EU agreed terms for the UK’s participation in the programme under the TCA.

“The persistent delays from the EU in formalising our association is creating uncertainty in the sector and risks preventing valuable international collaboration on shared global challenges, like climate change.

“We are committed to supporting the UK’s world-class research sector in international collaborations, and this safety net will give researchers and their partners the certainty they need to continue to pursue their project plans and maintain world-class science”.

Christopher Smith from UKRI added: “We welcome the government’s decision to provide funding to those who have successfully applied to Horizon Europe and will be finalising the processes needed to distribute the funds in the coming weeks.

“We are also working with the government to prepare for all possible outcomes to ensure the UK’s thriving research and innovation sector has the support it needs to continue collaborating and delivering world-class R&D.

“In the meantime we encourage researchers and innovators across the UK to continue to apply to open Horizon Europe calls”.

As announced at Spending Review 2021, in the event that the UK is unable to associate to Horizon Europe, the funding allocated will instead go to UK government R&D programmes, including those to support international partnerships.