5 December 2023
by Sarah Morgan

£80bln UK Horizon association sealed

The UK’s association to the Horizon and Copernicus programmes has been officially sealed, as Science and Technology Secretary Michelle Donelan visits Brussels.

© Photo by NASA on Unsplash

This deal is set to create and support thousands of new jobs.

Researchers, academics, and businesses of all sizes can bid for a share of the more than £80bln available through the two programmes.

Under the bespoke deal secured by the Prime Minister, new financial protections for the British taxpayer, especially in the first years of association when UK scientists’ participation will be recovering, ensures:

  • UK taxpayers will reportedly not pay for the time where UK researchers have been excluded from since 2021, with costs starting from January 2024 – delivering much better terms for 2023. This will also provide breathing space to boost the participation of UK researchers in open calls for grants before we start paying into the programme.
  • The UK will reportedly have a new automatic clawback that protects the UK as participation recovers from the effects of the last two and a half years. It means the UK will be compensated should UK scientists receive significantly less money than the UK puts into the programme. This wasn’t the case under the original terms of association.

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 £10,000 available per application. The funding will be available to support those researchers who have not previously had experience, including next generation researchers.

The Secretary of State has 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 businesses and researchers will be working in cooperation, alongside their EU, Norwegian, Israeli and other colleagues. Canada is also reportedly set to join soon.

Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology Michelle Donelan says, ‘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.’

Iliana Ivanova, European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, says, ‘I am happy to welcome the UK back to the Horizon family. This is a real milestone, a clear win-win for both sides and for global scientific progress. Together, we can push further and faster. I have made association of non-EU countries to Horizon Europe my personal priority, and we are delivering.’