A no-deal Brexit could significantly jeopardise UK science and innovation research as unless the government takes action, almost half of one of the biggest funding sources, Horizon 2020, would vanish, according to a key House of Lords report.

The report Brexit: the Erasmus and Horizon programmes by the House of Lord EU Home Affairs Sub-Committee found that although the UK government has pledged to underwrite a large portion of the EU-funded Horizon 2020 fund, its promise does not cover two of the most important sources of funding, which account for 44% of the UK’s use of the fund.

The two funding sources, European Research Council (ERC) grants and Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA), have not been included in current government contingency plans as they do not providing funding for projects that involve participation from non-EU countries.

Horizon 2020 is a vital funding source UK science and innovation research, providing support for projects across the scientific spectrum. Brexit has already caused problems associated with it, including seeing the UK cut off from involvement in key space industry initiatives, including satellite navigation system Project Galileo.

House of Lords call on government to replace lost Horizon 2020 funding

As part of its report, the committee has called on the government to explain how it will replace these two missing funding sources in the event of an increasingly plausible no-deal scenario.

“The lack of clarity over the future availability of EU funds for mobility and research is causing great concern among researchers in the UK,” said Lord Jay of Ewelme, Chairman of the Committee.

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“We need to know how, in a ‘no deal’ scenario, the Horizon 2020 underwrite guarantee would work in practice, and how the Government would replace major funding schemes not covered by this guarantee: the European Research Council grants and Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions.”

It also urges the government to achieve full association status with the 2021-2027 Horizon Europe programme as part of Brexit negotiations, which would ensure researchers are able to continue to access funding after the UK has left the European Union.

“Participation in EU research programmes provides clear benefits in addition to grant funding. It offers access to large-scale research facilities, joint infrastructure and equipment, and access to the most talented researchers across Europe,” added Lord Jay.

“The programme also supports unique opportunities for international research collaboration which could not be replicated at the national level. Full association to the forthcoming Horizon Europe programme is by far the best outcome for UK science.”