Original text by Alex Smith, Senior Marketing Strategist at Vertigo Ventures
UK researchers have lost out on 115 grants – which had previously been approved through the €95.5 billion Horizon Europe programme – amidst the ongoing tensions between the UK and EU over the Northern Ireland protocol.
The termination of the grants follows the passing of the 29th June deadline by the ERC for successful UK applicants to either move their grants to a host institution in the EU, or to lose funding from the world’s largest research programme. Only 18 researchers elected to relocate, with 14 cases as of yet unresolved.
UKRI offers an application process for guarantee funding, but as of today the future of any potential UK association to Horizon Europe itself seems terminal. Furthermore Science Minister George Freeman is reported to be struggling to agree the specifics of the UK’s alternative funding scheme with the Treasury, facing additional concerns around ‘profiling’ of spending.
The story could become yet more complicated given the resignation of Rishi Sunak earlier today as Chancellor of the Exchequer and his replacement by Nadhim Zahawi, previously the Education Secretary. Michelle Donelan moves into that role, which will also be of interest to universities given recent exchanges in her capacity as higher education minister.
Deep concerns linger about the future of UK research and global collaboration, compounded by the potential for economic damage and a ‘brain drain’ of researchers and scientists in search of more prestigious collaborative opportunities.