European Commissioner for Research, Iliana Ivanova, and UK Science, Innovation and Technology Secretary, Michelle Donelan, convened in London to champion Horizon Europe for British businesses, scientists, and researchers.

The meeting, which will be held at the Royal Society, aims to rally support from leaders across the UK’s science, business, and research communities for decisionmakers from across the academic and business sectors. The event is targeted towards groups who have not previously heavily engaged in Horizon, such as SMEs,

Horizon Europe is the European Union’s biggest funding programme for research and innovation with a budget of €95.5bn. The programme constitutes the world’s largest collaborative research initiative and is scheduled to run until 2027.

At the heart of this initiative is a communications campaign set to launch in Italy and Spain, highlighting the potential for European firms and researchers to collaborate with the numerous UK companies eligible for Horizon Europe grants. The grants are valued, on average, at around £450,000 per business, with the programme’s total value standing at around £80bn.

The average grant of £450,000 per UK business or researcher offers a substantial opportunity for crucial R&D initiatives spanning health and the environment.

The UK safety tech sector will be worth £1bn in annual revenue within the next three years, according to a 2023 government study.

The collaboration also extends internationally, providing researchers with the chance to work alongside counterparts from the EU, New Zealand, Canada, and Israel.

This global outreach will be emphasised in an upcoming communications campaign set to launch in Italy and Spain.

The joint event at the Royal Society not only addressed Horizon Europe’s benefits but also explored how the UK and EU can collaborate on emerging technologies.

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Donelan expressed enthusiasm for the collaboration stating, “From grants to support UK applicants to our Horizon comms blitz, we are determined to do all we can together with our European colleagues to seize this moment.”

Commissioner Ivanova, joined by AI Minister Viscount Camrose, toured London’s Crick Institute, showcasing the UK’s leadership in areas like AI, quantum, and engineering biology.

This collaborative effort marks the beginning of a series of events throughout 2024, aimed at reaching businesses and researchers across the UK.

It follows the recent launch of a UK-facing communications campaign and additional support, including ‘pump priming’ grants of up to £10,000, to encourage UK bids for Horizon funding.

In January 2024, Donelan told an audience in London of her ambition for half of future EU unicorns to be British.

Donelan stated that the UK government would continue to support scaleups after citing that the number of people employed in tech startups in the UK has nearly tripled since 2018 to 1.8 million. 

This focus on scaleups is intended to match the levels of venture capital investment seen in the US tech sector, as Donelan clarified the UK government’s ambition was to “close the gap” between US and UK venture funding as a percentage of GDP. If achieved, this would result in an extra £5bn to the UK economy.