UK extends financial safety net for researchers as EU talks continue

the announcementmade on March 15, means that successful UK applicants to Horizon Europe will be guaranteed funding whether or not the UK formally joins, a process that is still ongoing.

The news came as the government make plans for its “biggest ever” research and development budget, which Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng says will secure “the UK’s position as a scientific superpower”.

Some £6.8 billion of the UK’s £39.8 billion research and development budget has been allocated to support the UK’s association with Horizon Europe, Euratom Research & Training and Fusion for Energy.

If the association with Horizon Europe fails to be formalized, part of this funding will be used to support successful UK applicants to Horizon Europe as part of an extension of a guarantee that the government gave last November to first-wave candidates.

“The combination would be a win-win for the UK and our international collaborators”

Tim Bradshaw, Managing Director of the Russell Group, noted the announcement brings “welcome clarity” while calling for the association to be finalized as soon as possible.

“The association would be a win-win solution for the UK and our international collaborators at a time when cooperation across Europe is more vital than ever,” Bradshaw said.

Christopher Smith, international champion for UK Research and Innovation, said the organization was “working hard to put the systems in place to distribute this funding”, with second wave funding streams set to open from may.

The UK’s association with Horizon Europe was agreed as part of Brexit negotiations in December 2020 and the government says it is ready to formalize this “at the first opportunity”, but blames the EU for the delays, saying that these have led to “uncertainty” for researchers. .

A spokesperson for the European Commission responded to this criticism by saying News from the PIE that it recognizes “the mutual benefit of cooperation in the fields of science, research and innovation” but that there are “serious difficulties in the implementation of the withdrawal agreement”.

“The trade and cooperation agreement does not provide for a specific obligation for the Union to associate the United Kingdom with Union programs at this stage or a specific deadline for doing so,” the spokesperson said. word. “We look forward to an early resolution that would allow for the establishment of association with Union programs, and which would enhance opportunities for cooperation in research, space and other areas.”

The government’s research and development budget has also allocated £25billion over the next three years to research and innovation in the UK and increased the UK space agency’s budget to over £600million. of pounds sterling.

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