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By Science Museum Group on

UK joins Horizon Europe

Scientists in the UK can once again access the world’s largest research collaboration programme, Horizon Europe, a development described as ‘wonderful news for future scientists and innovators’ by Ian Blatchford, Director and Chief Executive of the Science Museum Group.

Today’s Government announcement enables UK researchers to apply for grants, take part in research projects and collaborate with scientists working in the EU, Norway, New Zealand and Israel. The UK will also associate with Copernicus, the European Earth Observation programme, providing access to valuable earth observation data, which can help with flood and fire warnings.

Speaking at the Science Museum, Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology Michelle Donelan MP said: ‘The Horizon programme is unrivalled in its scope and opens up a world of opportunity for cooperation on science that delivers real-world benefits for the UK – creating jobs, boosting our economy and opening up collaboration for the sector with some of our closest partners, whether on tackling climate change or advancing cancer research.’

Ian Blatchford, Director and Chief Executive of the Science Museum Group, said: ‘This announcement will be welcomed by the research community and is wonderful news for future scientists and innovators who are vital to the UK’s prosperity. These young innovators will be able to collaborate with scientists across the EU and lead important scientific research which will shape our lives for years to come.’

In 2016 the Science Museum opened Beyond the Lab: The DIY Science Revolution, a free exhibition exploring how people are taking scientific research into their own hands, which received funding from the Horizon programme.

The UK was previously one of the top beneficiaries of the Horizon programme. Associate membership was provisionally agreed as part of the Brexit trade deal to enable the UK to continue to take part in Horizon after leaving the EU in 2020. However data from the European Commission shows Horizons awards to British science projects declined in recent years, falling from €950 million in 2019 to €22 million in 2023, the result of disagreements over the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Following news of the agreement on associate membership of the programme, UK Scientists are now encouraged to apply for grants and take part in research projects, with the UK and EU agreeing to work together to increase the UK’s participation in the programme.

Many scientific institutions have welcomed the news, with The Academy of Medical Sciences, the British Academy, the Royal Academy of Engineering and the Royal Society issuing a joint statement:

‘This is a great day for researchers in the UK and across Europe. The Horizon programme is a beacon of international collaboration and UK-based academic and industrial researchers will now be back at the heart of that.

Research is vital to tackling the key problems we face, from global challenges such as climate change to driving productivity growth and creating new jobs locally. Our involvement in Horizon Europe will make the UK stronger and is a big win for global research and innovation.’

Full details of the announcement can be found on the UK Government website.