In the October 2021 Spending Review, the Chancellor made a commitment that the £6.9bn set aside for UK participation in EU science programmes would be invested in UK R&D if the UK were not to become an associated country. In November 2021, the UK Science Minister, George Freeman MP, published an open letter to the R&D sector setting out a Horizon Europe Guarantee Fund and his top-level ideas for the scenario that the UK cannot associate, known as ‘Plan B’.
In recent days, more detail on Plan B has emerged. Minister Freeman said it will comprise three pillars: world-class fellowships; a stronger industry and innovation focus; and global challenges.
What is the RSC doing?
Whether the UK can associate to Horizon Europe is undoubtedly a matter of significant concern for many RSC members and across the chemical sciences community, particularly in the UK. As a result, it has been an ongoing theme in Royal Society of Chemistry policy work in recent years. We have collaborated with others and taken all opportunities to reinforce the importance of UK association to Horizon Europe to the UK Government and to leaders in the EU.
Science is an international endeavour and collaborative in nature. It can offer the widest benefits to society when researchers from different backgrounds – be that country, sector or discipline – come together to share knowledge and expertise. It remains our position that associating to Horizon Europe is the best option for the chemical sciences and we continue to make the case for association as the best option.
Some of our recent activities here include:
Further links to our Horizon Europe policy and influencing work can be found on our International funding, collaboration & chemicals regulation pages.
While we will continue to advocate for association to Horizon Europe, if it cannot happen, we will ensure that UK Government is aware of the needs of UK chemical sciences and continue to make sure our community’s voices are heard.
As more details on the UK’s Horizon Europe alternative emerge, we will be scrutinising the offer and working with our communities and other science organisations to ensure that the alternatives are fit for purpose for a healthy, thriving research and innovation ecosystem which enable mobility of the chemistry workforce and students, while helping chemistry-using sectors and companies to grow and flourish.