19 May 2021

An unattributed summary of the member roundtable on 21st April, hosted by CaSE with panellists from BEIS and the UK Mission to the European Union.

This event brought together a panel of representatives from the UK Mission to the EU (UKMis) and the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), to discuss the UK’s association with Horizon Europe.

  • Simon Argyle, Deputy Director and Counsellor – Competitiveness, Connectivity and Innovation, UKMis
  • Dr Frank Moeschler (FM), Head of Research, Innovation & Regional Policy, UKMis
  • Hayley Gowen (HG),  Head of Horizon Europe Association Team, International Research and Innovation, BEIS

The panel was chaired by CaSE Executive Director Sarah Main (SM) with an audience of CaSE’s members from across the research and innovation landscape.

Please Note: This event was held on the 21st April 2021, prior to the ratification of the Horizon Europe and EIT regulations on the 27th April. Updates have been made where possible, and further information is available via resources at the end of this note.

Click here to to download a PDF copy of the summary.

Opening Discussion

Our panelists introduced themselves, highlighting the immense amount of activity that has taken place since they last spoke to CaSE members in the autumn of 2020, including the securing of the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement. The panel emphasised the fundamental shift in the business and trading relationship that has taken place, and the desire to minimize the impact on the UK’s research and innovation sector - hence the great benefit that association to Horizon Europe will have.

Key aspects of the UK’s association were highlighted. UK entities, by default, are eligible to participate in all programmes, with the exception of the EIC fund, and in subjects where the UK is explicitly excluded – for example in security sensitive calls. UK participants will have the same rights as EU participants, and are able to lead project consortia and count towards the minimum number of countries needed for transnational projects. For further detail, the European Commission have developed an FAQ. See here.

The key message from the UKMis and BEIS was to encourage strong participation in Horizon Europe. Since 2015, participation had slowed understandably, fueled by a period of high uncertainty about the future of research and innovation relationships. With an agreement and structure now in place, UKMis and BEIS were keen to ensure UK actors have the support needed to reengage with European partners, and take full advantage of the UK’s association. They highlighted resources like the network of national contact points, UKRO support and UKMis and BEIS ability to act as advocates. Further resources at end of note.

UKMis and BEIS were keen to hear from research and innovation organisations, to ensure their experience and needs for Horizon association were heard in Government. They invited attendees to reach out, so active relationships and dialogues can be formed throughout the Horizon Europe programme.

Questions and Answers

Funding was raised as an area of uncertainty. In April, the UK Government announced it will be making an additional £250 million available in 2021/22 for Horizon Europe association, in addition to £400 million of funding announced at the 2020 spending review to support government priorities, which will help to pay for association. Whilst the UK Government has made financial commitments to Horizon through the TCA, there was a desire from attendees for further confirmation of this, such as through ring fenced funding in a multi-year spending review. The panel acknowledged that the 1 year spending review in 2020 was an emergency measure, and longer term commitments would be preferred in future.

On Horizon exclusions, panelists emphasised that prior to formal association (confirmed on the 27 April), the UK does not have a role on committees and hence a direct influencing role in the content of programmes within Horizon Europe. Whilst exclusions can occur, it will only be in extreme cases, and must be backed by significant justification. UKMis and BEIS have been raising the issue on behalf of the UK research and innovation community, and other countries (noting Germany and Denmark in particular) have strongly argued for the participation of associated countries in programmes. The panel noted that in some cases, UK exclusion is inevitable - for example, as a third country it is unable to join secure system areas like Galileo.  

Attendees highlighted the strained relationships between the UK and European partners, raising their concern about the ability to rebuild trust. UKMis and BEIS acknowledged these difficulties, but also emphasised the consistent positivity of European research communities in wanting to return to greater collaboration with UK partners, with UK association to Horizon being a shared goal of both the UK and EU during the TCA negotiations. Whilst the UK Government has committed future Horizon funding, there was a desire from attendees for further confirmation of this, such as through ring fenced funding in a multi-year spending review. The panel acknowledged that the 1 year spending review in 2020 was an emergency measure, and longer term commitments would be preferred in future. Attendees and the panel also raised the global research and innovation community, highlighting the institutions and talent that the UK can look to access beyond Europe.

Throughout the Q&A, UKMis and BEIS returned to their theme of the importance of UK actors engaging in a range of Horizon projects, capturing the benefits of direct collaboration, but also in steering programmes in line with the interests of the British research and innovation community. The panel was also keen to emphasise their ongoing support, asking any participants who experienced challenges to get in touch, and touching on the range of resources such as the Science and Innovation Network (SIN) in UK embassies, National Contact points, and various other ‘Suggested Resources’ covered at the end of this note.

Closing Remarks

The session closed with thoughts on the future of the UK and European relationship. The panel was optimistic about the potential for future collaboration between researchers and innovators, and stressed that the UK’s association to Horizon Europe over the next 7 years was an excellent opportunity to demonstrate the value of these partnerships. After a period of uncertainty, now is the time to rebuild and create the relationships that underpin the UK’s thriving international innovation.

CaSE thanks the panelists for their insight, and the CaSE membership for their attendance and thoughtful questions. 

Representatives from the following organisations attended.

Anglia Ruskin University

Association of Medical Research Charities

Biochemical Society

Brunel University

Cancer Research UK

Engineering Professors Council

Fraunhofer UK Research Ltd

GlaxoSmithKline

Heriot-Watt University

Imperial College London

Institute of Physics

Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine

Institution of Chemical Engineers

Jisc

John Innes Centre

Learned Society of Wales

Microbiology Society

National Farmers’ Union

National Measurement Laboratory at LGC

PraxisAuril

Richmond Pharmacology

Richmond Research Institute

Royal Astronomical Society

Royal Society of Biology

Royal Society of Chemistry

Society for Applied Microbiology

The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry

The Francis Crick Institute

The Open University

Physiological Society

UK Bioindustry Association

University College London

University of Bradford

University of Cambridge

University of Edinburgh

University of Exeter

University of Liverpool

University of Manchester

University of Sheffield

University of Strathclyde

Versus Arthritis

Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute

Wrexham Glyndwr University

 

 

 

Supporting Resources

The UK Mission and BEIS have shared a number of resources to assist UK researchers and innovators in understanding and applying to Horizon Europe. See below.

Commission FAQ regarding UK entity eligibility in Horizon Europe:

Available here, published on the 25th February

Application support can be accessed from:

The UK Research Office (UKRO) is the European branch of UKRI. See their website here, for support such as webinars on applying to ERC or Horizon calls.

National Contact Points are a cross UK network, to help you with Horizon Europe queries such as what to apply for, finding partners or even reviewing applications. Contact point list is available here.

Wider innovation support (including accessing and benefitting from Horizon Europe):

Innovate UK EDGE complements Innovate UK project funding with intensive, specialist-led support for such innovative, high growth businesses. Engaged businesses have a dedicated specialist providing support such as considering innovation processes, IP needs, and building new business relationships, domestically and internationally. More can be found out here.

The Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN) links new ideas and opportunities with expertise, markets and finance through a network of businesses, universities, funders and investors. You can find out more here.

Devolved administration specific support:

Finding a project partner:

To apply for some Horizon Europe funding schemes you will need to form a consortium with partners in other countries. There are a number of places you can get help to find partners:

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