UK rejoins Horizon Europe research programme, to advance AI and robotics

The UK has rejoined the Horizon Europe research programme, the world’s largest transnational research and innovation programme.

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The UK has rejoined the Horizon Europe research programme, the world’s most extensive transnational research and innovation programme. Horizon Europe, with a budget of £85 billion, supports international collaborations on a wide range of critical issues such as cancer, infectious diseases, climate crisis, food security, AI, and robotics.

By rejoining Horizon Europe, UK researchers can once again apply for grants and receive long-term financial support. This continuity is crucial as the current funding cycle runs until 2027, providing stability and opportunities for scientific advancements. Universities UK has highlighted the importance of re-establishing a 30-year collaboration between the UK and European researchers, which had been interrupted by Brexit.

In addition to rejoining Horizon Europe, the UK has joined Copernicus, the EU’s Earth observation programme. Being part of Copernicus is crucial for UK climate researchers and allows UK aerospace firms to bid for satellite contracts worth hundreds of millions of euros.

The estimated cost of the UK’s participation in Horizon Europe and Copernicus is approximately £2.2 billion per year, with the majority allocated to the science programme. The agreement includes a correction mechanism allowing rebates if the UK’s participation results in significant financial losses. An ‘underperformance clause’ compensation will be triggered automatically if the UK’s awards are 16% lower than its contributions.

Why does it matter?

While the UK’s ability to regain its leading position in Horizon Europe remains uncertain, both London and Brussels express confidence that with a ‘turbo boost’ in promoting the programme, the UK can reclaim its previous position within one to three years. Historically, The UK has been one of the greatest beneficiaries of the Horizon programmes, often surpassing Germany’s contributions to European science.