08 Sep 2023

UK rejoins Horizon Europe programme

Bethan Roullier
Head of BD Grants

The United Kingdom has re-entered the Horizon Europe program, marking its full association with the program until 2027. This development enables UK researchers to seek grants and participate in Horizon projects. Additionally, once adopted, the UK will have the opportunity to engage in the governance of EU programs, and UK researchers can take a lead role in consortia in the upcoming work program of Horizon Europe projects.

The Horizon program offers UK companies and research institutions the chance to spearhead global initiatives in various fields, including health and AI, fostering collaboration not only with the EU but also with countries like Norway, New Zealand, and Israel, which are part of the program. Furthermore, countries like Korea and Canada are exploring possibilities to join the program.

This announcement follows a conversation between UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and EU Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen. They encourage UK scientists to apply immediately and have agreed to collaborate in boosting participation.

Rishi Sunak emphasised that this deal provides financial protections for British taxpayers:

  1. UK taxpayers will not bear the costs incurred during the period when UK researchers were excluded from the program since 2021. Costs will commence from January 2024, offering better terms for 2023. This will also allow time to enhance the participation of UK researchers in open grant calls before financial contributions begin.
  2. The UK will have a new automatic clawback mechanism to safeguard its interests as participation rebounds from the impact of the past two and a half years. This ensures that the UK is compensated if UK scientists receive significantly less funding than what the UK contributes.

Secretary of State for Science, Innovation, and Technology, Michelle Donelan, celebrated the deal, highlighting the opportunities it presents for cooperation in science, job creation, and economic growth. She emphasised the significance of the Horizon program for tackling global challenges such as climate change and advancing cancer research.

The CEO of Cancer Research UK, Michelle Mitchell, expressed relief within the research community stating “Horizon Europe association is overwhelmingly in the best interests of cancer patients and scientists, and it is great news for cancer research that agreement has finally been reached between the UK and EU.”

Academy of Medical Sciences Vice President, Professor Paul Stewart, commented on the significance of the UK’s participation in Horizon Europe for the life sciences sector and its potential to drive innovation and growth.

“Today marks a pivotal moment for UK science. After a hiatus, the scientific community is celebrating the tremendous news that we are once more part of the EU’s flagship funding programme.”

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Chief Executive, Dame Ottoline Leyser, celebrated the decision, highlighting the UK’s successful history of participation in EU schemes and the opportunities it brings for collaboration and benefits to researchers and businesses.

In summary, the UK’s reassociation with Horizon Europe marks a significant milestone in fostering international collaboration, supporting scientific research, and advancing innovation.

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