Post-Brexit UK to continue role in EU’s €95.5bn research and innovation program

EU commission welcomes agreement which will see the UK continue its participation in Horizon Europe, the EU’s research and innovation program

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A trade deal agreed between the UK and European Union (EU) will allow UK researchers to participate in Horizon Europe, the EU’s transnational innovation program, despite the UK leaving the EU on January 31, 2020. The deal will offer UK pharma companies some regulatory previsions when it comes to applying for European research funding, as the EU and the UK clarify future trade deals.

Following several years of difficult negotiations between the UK and EU after the UK voted to leave the union in June 2016, both parties agreed to the UK’s continued participation in Horizon Europe’s 2021-2027 €95.5bn ($114.4bn) research program, which aims to provide researchers and innovators in science with the support to drive scientific excellence.

UK Prime Minster Boris Johnson said: “It means certainty for our scientists and being able to continue working together [with the EU] on great collective projects. Although we want the UK to be a science superpower, we also want to be a collaborative science superpower.”

The UK-EU trade deal will give UK researchers the opportunity to access Horizon Europe funding and give them the same eligibility to lead projects as other EU counterparts. However, the UK will be excluded from the new European Innovation Council Accelerator fund, set up to provide equity investments to start ups, university spin-offs, and small and medium enterprises in the EU.

While this could have a knock-on effect to the UK’s scientific output, Elizabeth Kuiper, Executive Director Public Affairs at the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations, said: “The UK’s continued participation in Horizon Europe and it researchers mobility [to travel and work between the UK and EU, just as before] were both of the highest importance for the pharmaceutical sector; not only for business, but ultimately for the sake of patients and public health.”

Horizon Europe will focus on ambitious, time-bound and achievable goals to deliver on common European goals, including the EU’s ambitious plan to save three million lives from cancer diseases and achieve 100 climate neutral cities by 2030.

Mariya Gabriel, the EU Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, said: “This agreement marks a very important milestone for Europe. With the Horizon Europe program, the European research community, research organizations and our citizens can count on the world's largest research and innovation program. It is our main tool to strengthen our scientific and technological base, develop solutions for healthier living, drive digital transformation and fight climate change, for our collective resilience.”

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