Looking beyond the horizon

Welcome news has been shared by the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) regarding an important funding milestone.

The Horizon Europe Guarantee fund has provided £1Bn in research funds to UK Universities.

This fund enables UK based researchers and innovation projects to continue, while the UK government steps up its efforts to secure lasting partnership with the European Union.

The guarantee fund supports researchers and innovators who have been successful in Horizon Europe competitions but cannot receive EU funding due to the delays to the UK’s association to the programme.

Looking beyond the horizon is more than wishful thinking. With guaranteed funding they can continue their important work in research and innovation.

The pathway to negotiation

Since the UK negotiated an exit from the EU in 2019 a series of intense discussions have continued to resolve the challenges of supporting the UK research community alongside retaining access to the Horizon Europe funding streams.

UK Government remains committed to supporting existing research projects that have relied upon funds issued under the Horizon Europe process.

Two exciting developments

There have been two important recent developments in the process.

The Department for Science, Innovation and Technology in collaboration with UKRI, published a prospectus in early April 2023 for the Pioneer fund.

Pioneer sets out how the government plans to protect and support UK science, research, technology and innovation (SRTI) sectors, should association to Horizon Europe on fair and appropriate terms not be possible.

Proposals for the fund include four interconnected offers regarding:

  • Recruiting appropriate talent
  • Enhancing global partnerships
  • Supporting business-led innovation
  • Supporting R&D infrastructure

The Department is inviting comments from industry in order to shape the final plan. It will then deploy it as appropriate in the event that the UK Government is not able to strike a satisfactory agreement with the EU over Horizon Europe.

The Windsor Framework

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced the signing of the Windsor Framework between the UK and the EU in February.

This agreement provided a way to break the deadlock in the operation of the post Brexit deal on the Northern Ireland Protocol. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced that talks on UK rejoining the Horizon Europe science research scheme can begin ‘the moment’ the Protocol deal is approved.

There remain significant difficulties in getting approval between all the political parties that have an interest in Northern Ireland. However, it is reassuring that the possibility of looking beyond the horizon exists.

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