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UK rejoins Horizon Europe programme after Brexit hiatus

Horizon Europe
Image credit: Simon Walker / No 10 Downing Street

The UK has rejoined the Horizon Europe programme under “bespoke” terms today after a three-year absence due to the country’s exit from the EU.

It unlocks €95.5bn (£82.bn) in capital that UK scientists can now apply for grants from until the programme’s end in 2027. Researchers can now also Horizon Europe project consortium.

“Horizon will give UK companies and research institutions unrivalled opportunities to lead global work to develop new technologies and research projects, in areas from health to AI,” the government said in an announcement on Thursday.

The move is a welcome boost for the UK’s science and technology sectors.

Max Bautin, managing partner at tech investor IQ Capital, said it is “excellent news for the UK’s deeptech community, much of which is sourced on research coming out of universities, and equally importantly talented researchers and founders, which will continue to be attracted to the UK as the leading deeptech ecosystem in the EU”.

Under revised conditions, UK taxpayers won’t owe any money for the period missed, with contributions resuming in 2024.

The move also sees the UK rejoin the Copernicus programme, which develops information services based on satellite Earth observation.

Sebastian Payne, director of think tank Onward, said: “The UK’s hiatus from Horizon has been holding back the government’s science superpower ambitions. This news isn’t just good for science, it signals a more pragmatic relationship with Europe.”

He added that the “UK was right not to rejoin at any cost – any deal must be fair for taxpayers”.

An automatic clawback clause has also been put in place and allows the country to receive repayment if scientists get “significantly less” than what is provided.

Stuart Grant, CEO of ARC (Advanced Research Clusters), said: “Greater access to funding will spur on vital innovation across the science and technology sector and boost collaboration among our European peers. Major breakthroughs aren’t made in siloes, but through working in collaboration with one another for the good of everyone.”

Dr Paul Bate, chief executive of the UK Space Agency, said: “Participating in Copernicus will enable the UK space sector to continue to play a significant role in the development of critical missions that will enable us to monitor our planet more effectively and lead a global effort through the use of satellite data to find new solutions to the urgent challenge of climate change.”

This morning the government revealed the appointment of new members to its AI taskforce and a rebrand.

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