£1.6bn of research and development funding “surrendered” back to UK Treasury

pharmafile | February 23, 2023 | News story | Medical Communications  

A pot of £1.6bn which was originally allocated as the UK’s contribution to the €96bn Horizon Europe research funding programme ‒ run by the EU ‒ has reportedly been “surrendered” to HM Treasury. The funds were promised as a foundation for a domestic scheme if the ongoing struggle around the UK’s associate membership to Horizon Europe remained unresolved.


Associate membership to Horizon Europe was included in the Brexit ‘divorce’ deal between the UK and EU, however such a deal has never been finalised due to the ongoing Northern Ireland trade border disputes between the UK and EU. In 2022, the EU withheld Horizon funding for UK projects, meaning UK applicants are having their funding covered by the UK government until the associate membership is passed.


Leading science organisations, such as the Campaign for Science and Engineering (CaSE) lobby group, have admonished the decision to “surrender” the funding by the Department of Business, Energy, and Industry Strategies (CEIS), which CaSE claims came in the Central Government Supply Estimates 2022-2023.


CaSE executive director Professor Sarah Main said the withdrawal “undermines the Prime Minister’s assertions about the importance of science and innovation to the UK’s future and the creation, only this month, of a new department to pursue this agenda.”


Sir Adrian Smith, president of the Royal Society, said: “The failure of all sides to secure the UK’s association to the EU’s research programmes has now cost UK science £1.6bn. That comes on top of the talented researchers who have left the UK in order to carry on their collaborative work. How does this sit with the government’s stated mission to have the UK as a science superpower? The Treasury must now ensure that this money is reinvested in research in the coming years.”


James Spargo

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