In the event of a no deal Brexit, the UK could lose access to almost fifty percent of its Horizon 2020 funding, according to the House of Lords EU Home Affairs Sub-Committee.
To prepare for a no deal Brexit scenario, the government says it will underwrite funding from the Horizon programme until the end of 2020. However, according to the House of Lords, this does not cover key Horizon 2020 funding sources such as the European Research Council (ERC) grants and Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA). These sources of funding account for forty four percent of the total UK receipts from Horizon 2020. They are not open to non-associated third country participation.
What types of projects have come out of Horizon 2020 funding?
The Committee highlighted life-changing research projects funded by the ERC and MCSA, citing examples such as:
•An international research network that develops more efficient, less toxic therapies for childhood cancer treatment; and
•A collaborative project between academia and industry undertaking Alzheimer’s treatment research.
The Committee wrote: “The Committee therefore urges the Government to explain how it intends to replace ERC and MSCA funding in the event of a ‘no deal’ Brexit.”
The lack of clarity in a no deal Brexit scenario
The Chairman of the Committee, Lord Jay of Ewelme, commented: “The lack of clarity over the future availability of EU funds for mobility and research is causing great concern among researchers in the UK. 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.”
Lord Jay added: “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. 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.”