Government announces major boost for UK research and innovation
The UK government has pledged further support for UK researchers and businesses, including a shake-up of the immigration rules to attract international science and research talent.
There had been concern about whether applications submitted to Horizon 2020 ‘mono-beneficiary’ schemes before EU Exit would be assessed but on 8 August the UK government confirmed that if the European Commission stops assessing applications to these schemes in the event of a no deal Brexit the bids will still be reviewed.
If the European Commission stops evaluating UK bids that are submitted to the mono-beneficiary European Research Council, Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions and SME instrument programmes before EU Exit, UK Research and Innovation will step in and manage the independent assessment of these proposals, with additional government funding made available to support top projects for their duration.
Additionally, the government has announced that the Home Office and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is developing a new fast-track visa route designed to attract elite researchers and specialists. This includes abolishing the cap on Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visas and expanding the pool of UK research institutes and universities able to endorse candidates.
Professor Sir Mark Walport Chief Executive of UK Research and Innovation said:
“The commitments announced today are very welcome and demonstrate the UK’s continued support for world-class research and innovation.
“The announcement on Horizon 2020 applications gives our research and innovation communities reassurance as they apply for European funding, and a new fast track visa route will ensure we attract outstanding individuals who can help us drive discovery and deliver real impact for communities in the UK and across the world.”
Anne Dixon, Head of Operations, UKRI, adds:
“UKRI has been working behind the scenes to be ready for all EU Exit eventualities. UKRI would ensure, as far as is possible, that the process for submitting, reviewing and delivering applications not yet assessed by the Commission, is consistent with existing processes within these prestigious programmes. In the meantime, we ask all existing UK Horizon 2020 grant holders already in receipt of a grant to continue to register their details onto UKRI’s Horizon 2020 portal so that we can inform them about next steps needed to access the government’s funding guarantee if it is needed”.
Horizon 2020 is the European Commission’s flagship programme for research and innovation. It is a major source of funding for the UK which is a top five collaboration partner for each of the other 27 European Union Member States.
UK bids to other Horizon 2020 schemes which are assessed as successful by the European Commission will be funded by the government’s existing guarantee and extension that commits to cover all eligible successful UK Horizon 2020 bids submitted by UK participants before the end of 2020. This funding commitment would cover projects for their lifetime.
If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, the UK would become a third country participant in Horizon 2020. In this scenario, after Exit we expect the European Commission will continue to assess all UK bids to elements of the programme open to third countries. Successful bids to these programmes will be funded under the government’s guarantee and extension.
However, while the UK remains a Member State, UK applicants can continue to bid to all aspects of Horizon 2020, including schemes that are not open to third countries.
The European Commission is under no obligation to assess bids to these schemes at point of Exit if the UK leaves the EU without a deal. That’s why the UK government has confirmed today that UK researchers will be invited to re-submit mono-beneficiary grants, such as European Research Council (ERC) Frontier Research grants, some Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) and the SME Instrument. (SMEi) to UK Research and Innovation. External experts would scrutinise bids and successful applications would be funded for the lifetime of the project.
UKRI will provide more details in due course about how UK mono-beneficiary grant applications that have been submitted to the European Commission before Exit but not assessed would be independently reviewed in the event of a no deal Brexit. UKRI will also be working closely with the government to ensure speedy implementation of the revised visa process.
Information will be made available via our EU Exit pages: https://www.ukri.org/research/international/ukri-eu-exit/
For the full government announcement please see here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/pm-sets-out-vision-to-cement-uk-as-a-science-superpower
The government has also announced £60 million of funding to support collaborative projects with partners across the globe, through UKRI’s Fund for International Collaboration.
Meanwhile, UKRI continues to encourage current grant holders already in receipt of Horizon 2020 grants to resister on the Horizon 2020 portal: https://apply-for-innovation-funding.service.gov.uk/eu-grant/overview
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