UK rejoins £80bn Horizon research programme 

Academics, researchers and businesses of all sizes in the UK can now (once again) participate in the world’s largest programme of research participation. 

From January 2024, British researchers will be able to participate in the EU’s Horizon science programme, having been required to leave in 2021 as part of Brexit. At the time it left, the UK led a quarter of the projects in which it participated, and the loss was deeply felt across the sector. 

silhouette photography of mountain during golden hour

Photo by Jakub Kriz

A new, bespoke association agreement was approved this week by the EU-UK Specialised Committee on Participation in Union Programmes. The UK will pay some €2.43bn per year to the EU as the price of participation, and will not have voting rights in the scheme. 

It’s also been announced that the UK will also pay some €154m for membership of the Copernicus Earth observation programme. The UK government hopes that participation in both programmes will create and support thousands of new jobs as part of a next generation of research talent, and will help to deliver the Prime Minister’s ambitions to grow the economy and establish the UK as a science and technology superpower by 2030. 

The UK is not the only country from outside the EU to participate in the Horizon programme. Norway and Israel are also involved, and Canada is set to join soon. 

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

‘Now it is essential that we bring our science, research and business communities together with their EU and global partners to deliver the benefits from our bespoke Horizon and Copernicus deal, from our share of the 300,000 new jobs Horizon aims to create, to the untold advances it will unlock for our health, the environment and more.’ 

Iliana Ivanova, European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, adds: ‘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.’ 

In related news:

£60m for two new co-centres on climate and sustainable food 

£4.1m for fully electric licenced taxis in Bradford 

Ten new 5G Innovation Regions share £36m 


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