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UK and EU science chiefs urge British researchers and businesses work together with European colleagues through Horizon, and apply for grants to boost jobs, growth and scientific breakthroughs



  • European Commissioner for Research Iliana Ivanova joins UK Science and Technology Secretary Donelan in London to make joint commitment to maximising UK Horizon Europe success for businesses, scientists and researchers
  • Horizon Europe is the world’s largest programme of research collaboration, and UK firms are already benefitting from funding
  • Communications campaign set to launch in Italy and Spain, emphasising the opportunities for European firms and researchers to collaborate with the tens of thousands of UK companies eligible for Horizon Europe grants – which are worth £450,000 to a business on average

The European Commissioner for Research and Innovation Illiana Ivanova, and the UK Science and Technology Secretary Michelle Donelan, will meet leaders from across the UK’s science, business and research communities today (Monday 12 January) to make a united call for UK innovators and researchers to seize the opportunity of Horizon Europe funding – as well as the avenues it opens for collaboration with some of the brightest minds from across Europe and beyond.

Horizon Europe is the world’s largest collaborative programme of research collaboration, which the UK is a part of after the Prime Minister secured a bespoke deal, last year, which increased the benefits of association to UK scientists as well as value for money for the UK taxpayer.

Secretary of State Donelan and Commissioner Ivanova will set out how both the UK and EU are determined to make a success of the UK’s Horizon Europe association, at a joint event being held at the Royal Society for decisionmakers from across the academic and business sectors. The event is targeted towards groups who have not previously heavily engaged in Horizon, such as SMEs, as well as businesses and scientists across Europe who could stand to benefit from collaboration with UK researchers through the programme. UK firms already benefitting from Horizon funding include Nova Innovation, whose consortium won over £17 million to develop tidal energy in Orkney, and South Yorkshire tech firm The Floow who are part of a project awarded just under £3 million, looking into road safety.

Horizon Europe is worth around £80 billion in total, and with the average Horizon grant worth £450,000 to a UK business or researcher, it offers an enormous opportunity for anyone doing R&D to secure backing for vitally important research benefitting all our lives, from health to the environment. Horizon Europe is also truly international, giving researchers the opportunity to work confidently alongside colleagues from across the EU, New Zealand, Canada and Israel. This enormous potential for opening up access to new markets and clients will be the focus of a new communications campaign, set to launch shortly across Italy and Spain, setting out how partnering with the UK’s brightest minds through Horizon can benefit some of Europe’s most innovative researchers.

Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology Michelle Donelan said:

“The UK’s bespoke deal on Horizon has opened up a whole world of opportunity for our researchers, from the £80 billion funding that’s available, to the vast benefits that come from working hand-in-hand with colleagues from Europe to Canada to New Zealand.

“From grants to support UK applicants to our Horizon comms blitz, we are determined to do all we can together with our European colleagues to seize this moment, and all it could do to help our brightest minds deliver jobs, growth, and breakthroughs that will make life better for us all.”

European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth Iliana Ivanova said:

“My message to British researchers and innovative businesses is simple and clear: Apply! Thousands have succeeded before, joining forces with European partners, advancing science, boosting academic careers and business growth. I look forward to seeing many more UK beneficiaries in the Horizon Europe programme in the years to come.”

Aside from events at the Royal Society, today will also see further conversations take place on how the UK and EU can work together to make UK association to the programme a success including on how to enable UK and EU researchers to work closely together on new and emerging technologies, which have the potential to radically change how we live and work, for the better. The UK’s best-in-class science pedigree will be in full view when Commissioner Ivanova is joined by AI Minister Viscount Camrose on a tour of London’s Crick Institute, the world-leading biomedical lab, earlier in the day.

The UK is already established as a world leader in this area, having hosted the first-ever AI Safety Summit last year, and with landmark strategies to cement the country’s best-in-class position on quantum and engineering biology.

Today’s UK-EU event is the first in a series of moments that will take place throughout 2024, aimed at ensuring the message about Horizon reaches businesses of all kinds, who might not have previously considered applying, as well as researchers and academics in every part of the country. It comes hot on the heels of the launch of a new UK-facing multi-channel communications campaign, shining a light on the real-world benefits of Horizon to businesses and researchers with advertising across social media, podcasts, digital displays and more. The new European communications push will take this message even further, showing the value of Great British businesses, scientists and researchers as partners in some of the most promising fields, from life sciences to robotics.

All of this builds concrete support already being made available to encourage UK bids for Horizon funding, such as ‘pump priming’ grants of up to £10,000 already being offered in partnership with the British Academy to support the applications of selected UK researchers and businesses to help them create better applications. The aim is for this funding to encourage those researchers who have not previously had experience, including next generation researchers, to apply to Horizon – and the scheme remains open for a second round of bids until 21 February.

Science, innovation and technology will be critical to the future of the UK. By leading the way in these fields, we can grow the economy, one of the Prime Minister’s five priorities, as well as unlock breakthroughs that could improve everyone’s quality of life.

We know from recent history that the UK can be a leader in this area. We have four of the top ten universities in the world, and the second-highest number of Nobel prize winners. A quarter of projects in which the UK participated, funded through Horizon’s predecessor, were UK-led.

Horizon Europe is built around three main pillars – excellent science (Pillar 1), global challenges and industrial competitiveness (Pillar 2), and innovative Europe (Pillar 3). Horizon’s Pillar 2 has the largest budget, and supports research that is aimed at tackling some of the biggest problems facing society, from improving people’s health to tackling climate change. The average Horizon grant from Pillar 2 is worth £450,000 to a UK business.

Further information, including practical support on how to apply is available on Innovate UK’s website also host regular events that help guide businesses and researchers through the opportunities on offer and the application process.

Encouraging smaller businesses to pitch for, and win, Horizon and Copernicus funding supports DSIT’s aim to help the UK’s promising science and tech firms scale-up and grow.

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