Academy President Sir Jim McDonald responds to the government’s announcement of transitional measures to support the research and innovation sector if association to Horizon Europe is not possible.
The UK government has set out a new package of transitional measures to ensure the stability and continuity of funding for researchers and businesses, which will come into force if the UK is not able to associate to Horizon Europe – the EU’s research and innovation funding programme.
Responding to the announcement, Sir Jim McDonald FREng FRSE, President of the Royal Academy of Engineering, said:
“The strong preference of the Academy and the wider global research and innovation community is for the UK to associate with Horizon Europe. It will be most regrettable if that association becomes impossible for reasons that have nothing to do with research and innovation.
“Delays in confirming association mean that the government is wise to develop alternative plans for UK research and innovation investment. We have been working with government, UKRI and sister National Academies on potential Horizon alternatives for many years, planning for several different scenarios to improve resilience at critical points.
“Today’s publication makes that planning more visible to the community. We welcome that progress and hope that government will release further plans and engage the community with them as uncertainty over association continues. We also hope that government will confirm its financial investment in these plans, although we understand that there are limits on decisions that can be made until a new Prime Minister and their Ministers are in place.
“In the event of non-association, UK-based researchers and innovators will no longer be able to benefit from some Horizon Europe mechanisms such as the European Research Council, European Innovation Council and other so-called mono-beneficiary schemes. As a precaution against this outcome, we, with our sister National Academies, UKRI and BEIS, have prepared a package of measures to support talented researchers and innovators during this initial period of transition and are designing a bold and ambitious longer-term plan.
“In the near term, those plans would involve scaling up our Research Fellowships and Chairs in Emerging Technology awards. In the longer term we would work with our sister National Academies to launch new awards as part of the new flagship fellowships talent offer. If they are needed, we are committed to delivering these programmes in ways that will reinforce the UK as an exceptional location for highly talented researchers and innovators, and that will provide significant resources and unique freedom for them to realise their visions.
“Obviously, non-association would mean significant changes and disappointment for the UK and European communities. Whatever the final outcome, we hope that UK and European researchers and innovators will continue to collaborate through all the mechanisms that will be available to them.”
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