Emerging risks research boosted by UK’s return to Horizon Europe

Funding for UK research into key emerging risks including life sciences projects and AI has been boosted after the decision was taken this week to re-join the EU’s flagship scientific research scheme Horizon Europe.

The move unlocks access for the UK to a funding pot of some EUR 95 billion, and has been met with unanimous praise by leading voices in the industrial and scientific communities.

In a statement, Downing Street said that UK scientists will now have access to the world’s largest research collaboration programme, Horizon Europe, with UK researchers able to apply for grants and bid to take part in projects under the programme, “with certainty that the UK will be participating as a fully associated member for the remaining life of the programme to 2027”.

UK Prime Minster Rishi Sunak said: “We have worked with our EU partners to make sure that this is the right deal for the UK, unlocking unparalleled research opportunities, and also the right deal for British taxpayers.”

Downing Street added that Horizon will give UK companies and research institutions unrivalled opportunities to lead global work to develop new technologies and research projects, in areas from health to AI. This, it claimed, will not only open up cooperation with the EU, but also Norway, New Zealand and Israel which are part of the programme – and countries like Korea and Canada which are looking to join too.

Announcement of the deal follows a call between the UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and EU Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen earlier this week. They are encouraging UK scientists to apply with confidence and both parties have agreed that the UK and EU will work together to boost participation.

Welcoming the move, Tom Grinyer, CEO of the Institute of Physics, said: “News of an agreement to join Horizon is incredibly welcome and ends a period of real and damaging uncertainty for the UK science community. As the Institute of Physics has long highlighted Horizon association brings unparalleled opportunities backed by funding for collaboration – it is best for science, best for business and innovation, and best for the UK. Now we need to see the details and get on with the hard work of making up for lost time in joint projects, collaboration and innovating with our European partners.”

President of UUK, Professor Dame Sally Mapstone added: “The entire research community, within our universities and beyond, will be delighted at the news that an agreement has been reached. Overcoming the obstacles to association was no small feat and we are grateful to the government and the commission for their perseverance to secure this successful outcome.”

“Horizon Europe has been the basis of scientific collaboration for over 30 years. From early detection of ovarian cancer to developing clean energy networks involving dozens of universities and many industrial partners, Horizon lets us do things that would not be possible without that scale of collaboration.”

The Academy of Medical Sciences, the British Academy, the Royal Academy of Engineering, and the Royal Society have issued a joint statement on the UK’s association to Horizon Europe:

“This is a great day for researchers in the UK and across Europe. The Horizon programme is a beacon of international collaboration and UK-based academic and industrial researchers will now be back at the heart of that.”

“Research is vital to tackling the key problems we face, from global challenges such as climate change to driving productivity growth and creating new jobs locally. Our involvement in Horizon Europe will make the UK stronger and is a big win for global research and innovation.”