Every year the EU funds almost £100m of UK R&D in our sectors – supporting well-paid jobs, innovation and high-tech exports in the UK
The EU is an important source of funding for Research & Development and innovation, particularly as individual government budgets decline. The EU uses funding competitions called Framework Programmes to provide research grants to projects in all sectors across Europe. The seventh Framework Programme (FP7) ran from 2007-2013 and awarded almost €50bn worth of R&D grants.
Punching our weight in R&D funding?
The UK has been remarkably successful in winning EU Framework funding for space R&D in the UK. In the latest call for space projects under FP7 around 80% of successful bids include a UK partner and around 24% are led by one. The total investment secured by these partners is approximately €29 million, or 23% of the available budget for the call.
The total funding allocated to EU space activities by its 28 member countries is approximately €11 billion for the period 2014-2021. Based on the UK’s success in FP7, UK companies could receive over €2.5 billion in additional funding for space R&D in the UK – if we stay in the EU.
What is clear is that, while the UK is successful in winning R&D funding from the EU, we do not do as well as our continental cousins in gaining as much as we could
In contrast, while the UK is home to Europe’s largest Aerospace industry, it trails France and Germany when it comes to funding allocation from the EU.
Feedback from members surveyed and interviewed suggests that this anomaly is as much to do with the support provided in the UK to access such funding as to the availability of it and is one of the clear calls for reform identified by members.
Looking at aerospace and security, there is further scope to gain additional R&D funding for the UK. Germany, for example, received 19% (or €190m) of the Aviation R&D funding between 2007-2012, whereas the UK won just 11.6% (or €116m) in R&D funding, a gap of almost €75m. The French also do better than UK, securing 16.5% (or €165m) for their sector.
Similarly in the Security sector, the UK does well in terms of winning funding, but did second best (behind Germany) in both participation rates and funding received.
As the Space sector shows, by engaging more with Europe on R&D strategy, the UK could secure even greater levels of funding.