UK & Horizon Europe: What will happen to UK start-ups applying for European programmes?
UK participation in European programmes has declined since 2016, when they voted to leave the EU. Now the UK, which used to be among the biggest winners in the European R&D funding, is not even in the top 10 in Horizon Europe’s start-up funding scheme and below the top 5 in ERC’s programmes, with even a fall by half in the number of UK participants compared to H2020.
As the UK is still not associated with Horizon Europe, UK-based researchers are applying to Horizon Europe R&D and innovation programmes. Still, the winners are not eligible for this funding from Europe but received it through the UK government as a grant only (not equity investments).
In a way, the UK is piggy-backing on Horizon Europe’s evaluation and selection infrastructure.
The UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) has set up a ‘Horizon Europe Guarantee Funding‘ scheme for UK winners of Horizon Europe programmes, extended until the end of June 2023, but there’s no other reference related to Horizon Europe in the UK’s recently published 10-action points of the new Science and Technology Framework.
The question is: will this guaranteed funding scheme continue to fund UK R&D for the next few years, or will an Association Agreement be reached?
With signs that an agreement on the Northern Ireland Protocol is close, association may be imminent.
In any case, researchers and innovative companies need more certainty about the UK’s long-term status in Horizon Europe. Knowing the level of innovation coming out of UK start-ups, we hope this impasse is resolved soon.