With the March 2019 deadline for the UK’s exit of the European Union fast approaching, government, industry and academics are rightly calling for a decision to be reached quickly on how the UK will participate in EU research and innovation programmes. This will be the first of two blogs discussing the UK’s current and future participation in EU programmes.
Why is this important for manufacturers?
Our previous blog details some ways in which the EU supports manufacturing R&D. Some of the reasons include that:
- The EU provides funding through the Europe’s largest research and innovation programme (the UK has been the most successful country in terms of participation in the current framework programme Horizon 2020, whilst also securing 15% of its total funds)
- The EU facilitates collaborative relationships, which 61% of manufacturers say is increasingly important for successful innovation;
- European support can help to ease the process of international collaboration;
- Research and innovation risk is shared out across organisation/companies.
One in seven companies in our 2017 survey is using or have used European programmes for innovation in the past three years.
This makes EU research programmes a critical source of funds for UK manufacturers.
What is Horizon 2020?
Horizon 2020 is the current EU main funding programme for Research and Innovation. It will last from 2014 until 2020 and has a budget of €79 billion. It supports research and innovation projects and programmes in basic research, strategic and applied research, demonstration projects, and close-to-market activities.
The joint report on the UK’s withdrawal from the EU (a joint report from negotiators from the EU and negotiators from the UK government progress during phase 1 of negotiations) contains the stipulation that the UK will still participate in all Horizon2020 projects and receive funding as a member state until the programme’s end. The government underwrite guarantee will remain in place even if the commitments made in the joint report are not met.
What will follow Horizon 2020?
Horizon2020’s successor will be Horizon Europe (previously referred to as FP9) for the period 2021-2027. The details of FP9 are currently being negotiated by the European Parliament and the European Commission but an initial figure of €100b has been proposed for the programme up from Horizon 2020’s €77b in cash terms.
As the UK is currently still a member of the EU it is able to feed in to the EU’s current consultation on the shape Horizon Europe should take. The UK’s input to the consultation included a focus on the need for the programme to stay focused on innovation and cross-border-industry-driven collaborative research. It also highlighted the importance of UK SMEs being able to participate in the programme.
With negotiations between the UK and the EU still under way, it remains to be seen how the EU will respond, and in what way UK manufacturers will be able to participate in Horizon Europe. Be sure to read tomorrow’s blog to read more about the options, and wider implications of Horizon Europe on UK manufacturing.