New Future for UK Science on Horizon

Published on September 07, 2023

The UK has rejoined the EU's science programme, Horizon Europe, as an associate member.

We have been campaigning on this hard in the last few months, with thousands of our members and supporters signing our open letter and writing to their MP, whilst I myself have been pushing on this for years.

The deal struck by Rishi Sunak has been a long time coming. We have been campaigning for months to urge the Government to solve the impasse over the Horizon programme. A deal is now done – but the long delays have cost the UK’s scientific community dearly.  

Martin Rees, Astronomer Royal: 

“After months of frustrating delay, this decision will be received with overwhelming approval – not only by UK scientists but by all who recognized the benefits of an ‘open’ community where collaboration has fewer impediments. The UK will be perceived worldwide as a better place to do science.” 

Sir Fraser Stoddart, 2016 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry: 

“When it comes to participation in Horizon Europe, the United Kingdom should be front and centre.” 

Being on the outside of Horizon Europe for 2.5 years has done huge damage to our scientific and research community. As well as missing out on millions in funding, the reputational damage is incalculable. 

UK scientists no longer had the chance to work with world-leading partners from all over Europe and beyond, on cutting edge projects to find new cancer treatments, clean up our water networks, tackle climate change and much more. It put the UK’s status as a global scientific leader under threat. 

We’ve consistently called for the government to stop stalling and find a way back into the EU-wide funding and collaboration scheme. We can now start to rebuild links with our EU neighbours, and prevent UK scientists from being further hamstrung by our hard Brexit. 

Michael Browne, CEO, Crowdhelix 

"As a company whose business is to forge links between an international network of excellent researchers and innovating companies, we saw first-hand the tragic damage that Brexit and then failing to join Horizon Europe have done. Collaboration is the lifeblood of research and innovation, so we profoundly hope that this re-opens the door for the UK's researchers and innovators once again to the environments within which they were once doing so well." 

I know first-hand the unique value to our scientists of these collaborative frameworks. I’ve worked on amazing multinational projects funded by Horizon Europe, with pooled science funds into a single vast pot to support discovery at scale. It’s uniquely powerful in the global science landscape. It pains me to think of the opportunities we have lost while the Government has dragged its feet in doing a deal that could have been completed months ago.   

Dr Mike Galsworthy, Chair of European Movement UK, studied Natural Sciences at Cambridge, before completing a PhD in Behaviour Genetics at King's College London. He is an expert on EU science policy and has written academic papers analysing EU science programmes. 


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