Supporting UK R&D beyond EU programmes

Last week the Government provided an important update on the arrangements for UK businesses and academia in the regrettable case that the UK is unable to associate to Horizon Europe, the European Union’s key funding programme for research and innovation with a budget of €95.5 billion. This update includes details on a range of transitional measures delivered by existing and well-established UK funding and support mechanisms, ready to be launched if negotiations fail.

ADS continue to urge the Government and the European Union to seek agreement on association to Horizon Europe, as well as to the EU’s Earth Observation programme, Copernicus. The international networks and opportunities to shape research priorities are unique and would be highly difficult to replicate through a domestic approach. However, our sectors are also keen for a sense of direction and clarity in case the UK is unable to associate, so the details released last week are very welcome.

The Government has made clear that Horizon association remains its priority. However, it has reiterated that the funding committed to Horizon Europe in the 2021 Spending Review will be used to fund UK R&D in the case of non-association. Additionally, it has set out a range of transitional measures including:

  • the UK Guarantee scheme already in operation, which ADS continues to call on the Government to expand to cover Clean Aviation
  • funding for successful, in-flight UK-based applicants to Horizon
  • uplifts to existing UK talent schemes
  • uplifts to innovation funding and support for businesses, in particular SMEs
  • uplifts to international innovation schemes to support international business collaborations
  • funding for research institutions most affected by the loss of Horizon Europe’s talent funding
  • continued Third Country Participation in Horizon Europe

Finally, the Government provided more details on what the UK’s ‘Plan B’ might look like, including:

  • a Flagship fellowships talent offer with high value, long term fellowships with same prestige and career benefits as ERC
  • an ambitious programme supporting global collaboration (with third country participation to Horizon Europe)
  • increased investment in end-to-end innovation investing in industrial research and innovation
  • investment in wider R&D system such as infrastructure, digital research capability and development of clusters

ADS welcomes the Government’s further assurances on a stable, medium-term R&D funding envelope for UK businesses and academia, as well as the emerging details on a longer-term replacement. We will continue to engage with BEIS and other partners to shape this alternative programme to ensure that it competitively supports UK business innovation, while also continuing to press for association to Horizon Europe and Copernicus in a timely fashion.