UK’s association to Europe’s GBP80b Horizon and Copernicus research officially sealed

UK’s Science and Technology Secretary Michelle Donelan has officially sealed the UK’s association to the world-leading Horizon and Copernicus programmes. 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 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.

UK researchers, academics, and businesses of all sizes can confidently bid for a share of the more than GBP80 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 GBP20 billion in UK R&D by 2024-25, borne out in recent announcements like the GBP500 million boost to the AI Research resource and GBP50 million for battery manufacturing R&D, announced in the Autumn Statement.

A UK-EU Specialised Committee signed off the UK’s association to Horizon and Copernicus, the final step to UK association. The bespoke deal secured by the Prime Minister, includes new financial protections for the British taxpayer, especially in the first years of association when UK scientists’ participation will be recovering, says the UK government.

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 GBp10,000 available per application. The funding will be available to support those researchers who have not previously had experience, including next generation researchers. 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.

UK 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.

“Now it is essential that we bring our science, research and business communities together with their EU and global partners to deliver the benefits from our bespoke Horizon and Copernicus deal, from our share of the 300,000 new jobs Horizon aims to create, to the untold advances it will unlock for our health, the environment and more.”

The event is just 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.

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