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expert reaction to government announcement that UK is re-joining Horizon

Scientists react to the announcement that the UK is re-joining the EU science research programme Horizon.


Steve Elliott, Chief Executive of the Chemical Industries Association, said:

“We welcome today’s announcement that the UK will be part of Horizon Europe. It is fantastic to know that, after years of uncertainty,  the science community will have better stability to drive forward our ambition to grow the economy and work to establish the UK as a science superpower. The chemical industry, as a crucial supplier to various key industries, including pharmaceuticals and food as well as aerospace and automotive, will be able to support those industries to tackle the biggest challenges of our time, from climate change to health to sustainability.”


Prof Stuart Elborn, Queen’s University Belfast Provost and Deputy Vice-Chancellor, said:

“Queens and Ulster University have had a very strong track record in European collaboration through European research funding. This will have a direct impact on translational research in Northern Ireland and will also support the implementation of the Belfast Region City Deal and the other coming Regional Growth Deals, which will be a gamechanger for our economy and the wellbeing of society.”


Prof Sir Nilesh Samani, Medical Director at the British Heart Foundation, said:

“We are delighted that a deal has been reached for the UK’s association with Horizon Europe, securing our future scientific relationship with our European neighbours. The collaborative, international research this agreement enables will be vital to accelerate developments that can save and improve the lives of the millions of people living with heart and circulatory diseases in the UK and Europe.”

“Today’s deal will facilitate renewed collaborations across Europe, cementing the UK’s position as a leading research destination and attracting top scientific talent from around the world to deliver future ground-breaking discoveries.”


Prof Liam Smeeth, Director of London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said:

“The UK has a well-deserved reputation as a world leading powerhouse in health research, recently evidenced by the leading role we played in the Covid response globally. The benefits are huge: in health improvement, economic investment and global prestige. 

“The lack of agreement to allow the UK to continue to play a full role in the European Union Horizon funding programme severely threatened our continued success. My concern was particularly for the long term, with no new partnerships and collaborations being formed, there was a very real risk of the UK becoming isolated and insular.

I am delighted with this announcement. Continued full association with EU funding programmes in the long term to ensure the continued success of UK science.”


Prof Siddharthan Chandran, Incoming Director of the UK Dementia Research Institute, said:

“Today neuroscientists across the UK breathed a sigh of relief. By confirming our association to Horizon Europe, the UK and EU have secured seamless routes to international collaboration, offering the best hope of scientific breakthroughs to beat dementia.

“Membership of Horizon gives us access to world-class European scientific talent, infrastructure and data, which will only strengthen the research conducted here on UK soil. The government must continue to nurture UK science, recognising that innovation will boost economic growth, create jobs, and solve some of the greatest challenges we face as a society – with benefits for everybody.”


Prof Matthew Freeman, Head of Dunn School of Pathology, University of Oxford, said:

“If this news is confirmed it will be a huge relief. UK science and, for that matter, the full range of academic research, is immeasurably strengthened by being fully part of the strongest international science bloc in the world.

Not being part of the Horizon programme, and the discovery science it drives, would have badly damaged our future scientific and economic potential.

I don’t know what took so long, but this news will make it much easier for those of us who spend time trying to recruit the best scientists from around the world to come to Britain.”


Prof Geraint Rees, UCL Vice-Provost (Research, Innovation & Global Engagement), said:

“The announcement of Horizon Europe accession is wonderful news for researchers across the UK and throughout Europe, allowing them the opportunity to work together to help solve some of the greatest challenges facing humanity. At UCL our researchers have continued to win European grants over the last two years thanks to the Government’s Horizon Europe Guarantee, but this excellent news will now give our researchers even more opportunity to lead, collaborate and partner with the best researchers and universities in Europe to deliver outcomes that transform the lives of UK citizens.”


Dr Michael Spence, UCL President & Provost, said:

“Today’s announcement on the UK’s association to Horizon Europe and Copernicus is a cause for celebration on both sides of the channel.

“Association to Horizon Europe will enable research which makes a positive difference to people’s lives, supporting vital research networks and strengthening the UK’s position as an attractive destination for talent.

“We are grateful to the UK Government and to the European Commission for their efforts to secure a deal, and to the many members of our community who have advocated for this outcome.

“As one of Europe’s most internationally collaborative universities, the UCL community is well-placed to take full advantage of the opportunities association offers by continuing to lead collaborative, innovative research projects which tackle the world’s most pressing challenges.”


Dr Alistair Henry, UCB’s UK Head of Research, said:

“This is fantastic news! Re-joining Horizon Europe offers a much-needed boost for UK Life Sciences and, more critically, enhances research and supports researchers working together to tackle today’s global challenges.

“Horizon Europe is the world’s largest multinational research and innovation programme that provides a critical connection between UK research institutes and their continental counterparts.  Only by collaborating on this global stage will the UK be able to accelerate its research efforts and look forward to a future of higher productivity, innovation, growth, and eventually greater prosperity.”


Nigel Hirst, IChemE President, said:

“World-leading research relies on the talent of specialist teams who often span borders. Expert researchers in the field of chemical engineering continue to produce results that improve the profession’s efficiency, effectiveness and safety in topics ranging from materials processing, pharmaceutical engineering and heat transfer. Research has already enabled our profession to help address the challenges facing society, and the UK’s renewed association with the Horizon Europe programme ensures that we can, once again, access funding and pool our resources to make even more progress moving forward.”


Prof Deborah Prentice, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge:

“We warmly welcome the announcement of an agreement for UK participation in Horizon Europe and Copernicus. For the UK’s exceptional research community this is very good news which demonstrates a real commitment to this country remaining a global superpower in research and its application.”


Prof Neil Hall, Director of the Earlham Institute, said:

“The Earlham Institute is today celebrating the news that the Prime Minister has authorised the UK’s full Horizon Europe association. For a long time, we have been calling for the UK to become a fully-fledged member of this world-leading science collaboration programme. The UK’s Horizon association will mean that we can now play a more equal role in ground-breaking, international science collaborations.

Before Brexit our scientists led many successful Horizon collaborations but recent restrictions have forced them to take a back seat. Despite the government providing repeated guarantees to honour Horizon grants for research projects, advances in our science have still suffered from the long-running uncertainty. The Earlham Institute looks forward to playing a leading role once again in one of Europe’s most important ventures.”


Prof Sarah Main, Executive Director, Campaign for Science and Engineering (CaSE), said:

“What wonderful news! This news will bring a burst of joy to UK science and will provide the foundation for long-lasting economic, health and technological value to the UK.

“The many organisations that lead with science and research in the UK, including big business, start-ups, universities and health charities, will be delighted with this news.

“With this renewed certainty, scientists and engineers across the UK and Europe can now accelerate their ideas and collaborations, which drive the economy and improves the lives and livelihoods of people everywhere.

“Congratulations to all who have worked so hard to secure this deal over the last few years.”


Prof Sir Jim McDonald FREng FRSE, President of the Royal Academy of Engineering, said:

“We are delighted with this excellent news. The strong preference of the Academy and the wider global research and innovation community has always been for the UK to associate with Horizon Europe and we congratulate all those whose careful negotiations have confirmed the agreement and whose commitment to investment in innovation makes it possible.

“The whole engineering community – including business, industry and academia – will celebrate the announcement of continued partnership between the UK and EU. Engineering plays a vital role in addressing our critical global challenges, and this welcome development will enable essential international collaboration for the common good.”


Michelle Mitchell OBE, Chief Executive of Cancer Research UK, said:

“Horizon Europe association is overwhelmingly in the best interests of cancer patients and scientists, and it is great news for cancer research that agreement has finally been reached between the UK and EU.

“There will be relief throughout the research community that the uncertainty of the last two and a half years has come to an end. Nearly three quarters of respondents to our survey of cancer researchers cited funding from the EU as important for their work, showing how crucial Horizon Europe association is for the future of cancer research. 

“We hope that this deal paves the way for the UK’s ongoing participation in future European research programmes. It is essential that the European Commission, the UK Government and UK research funders work with urgency to rebuild the strong position the UK occupied in the Horizon programme, and get funds and global collaboration flowing again into our research institutions.”


Prof Tara Spires-Jones, President of the British Neuroscience Association and Professor at the UK Dementia Research Institute at the University of Edinburgh, said:

“There is a huge amount of relief in the neuroscience community today at the news that the UK will join Horizon Europe as an associate member. The delays have undoubtedly had impacts on the UK’s ability to lead international collaborations in neuroscience, which we will have to work hard to repair.
An open and inclusive European Research Area is essential for neuroscience collaboration, and we look forward to UK neuroscientists seizing the opportunities ahead.”


Dr Sarion Bowers, Head of Policy at the Wellcome Sanger Institute, said:
“The UK re-joining Horizon Europe is excellent news for both UK and European science, which is strongest when done together. Our science is delivered through international collaboration. Participation in Horizon Europe will catalyse and fund the kinds of collaborations that deliver transformative genomics projects that benefit health.”


Mark Downs, Chief Executive, Royal Society of Biology, said:

“The RSB has been pressing the government to associate with Horizon Europe and is delighted with this outcome. This decision will benefit UK science, society and economic growth. Bioscience holds potential solutions for many critical challenges from biodiversity loss through climate change to disease control and food security. UK and EU biologists will once again have access to the enormous benefits of collaboration that the Horizon programme brings.”


Prof Gurdyal Besra, President of the Microbiology Society, said:

“Microbiologists are working on solutions to pressing global challenges – like antimicrobial resistance and climate change – and need access to ambitiously funded international collaboration programmes which will deliver important collaborations and connections with scientists in Europe. We have issued repeated calls for access to Horizon Europe and other international research programmes since Brexit, and our community is delighted association has finally been confirmed, allowing vital access to European research networks.”


 Prof Julia Black PBA, President of the British Academy, said:   

“This is fantastic news. We are delighted to see that association has now been finalised; it is the announcement the whole higher education and research community has been waiting for. 
“Associating to Horizon Europe provides both UK researchers and our international partners with the certainty and stability they have been seeking, enabling them to participate in the largest international collaborative research fund in the world. 

“All of us in the research and innovation community must now drive forward UK participation in Horizon Europe, particularly in the humanities and social sciences, working with counterparts elsewhere in Europe and globally to forge the exciting and fruitful collaborations and partnerships that Horizon Europe enables us to deliver over the long term.” 


Sir Adrian Smith, President of the Royal Society, said:

“Our association to Horizon Europe is fantastic news, not just for the UK but for scientists across the EU and for all the people of Europe.

“Science has so much to offer in terms of tackling global challenges and improving lives. Today the Government and the EU have given that a big boost.

“Science is all about international collaboration and association is a big win. It allows us to continue to build on decades of collaborative research with our European partners and step up our global collaborations too to keep us as a nation at the forefront of science and innovation.”


Sir Paul Nurse OM CH FMedSci FRS, Director of the Francis Crick Institute, said:

“I am thrilled to finally see that partnerships with EU scientists can continue. This is an essential step in re-building and strengthening our global scientific standing. Thank you to the huge number of researchers in the UK and across Europe who, over many years, didn’t give up on stressing the importance of international collaboration for science.”


Prof Dame Ottoline Leyser DBE FRS, Chief Executive of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and Regius Professor of Botany at the University of Cambridge, said:

“Today’s agreement on UK association to Horizon Europe is brilliant news. The UK has a long track record of mutually beneficial participation in previous EU schemes and this decision enables us to build on those highly successful collaborations to maximise the opportunities membership of Horizon Europe provides. UKRI is looking forward to working with our communities and partners to capture the many benefits of Horizon Europe for researchers and businesses.”


Prof Paul Stewart FMedSci, Academy of Medical Sciences Vice President, Clinical, said:

 “Today marks a pivotal moment for UK science. After a hiatus, the scientific community is celebrating the tremendous news that we are once more part of the EU’s flagship funding programme.

“By associating to Horizon Europe, we now have the commitment and momentum to drive forward the Government’s vision for an innovative, high growth future and are well placed to support the diverse and highly skilled research talent that underpins our life sciences sector.

“Health research is an international endeavour, it relies on supporting the best ideas, but also on creating cross-border networks which is good news for the UK, Europe and the rest of the world. Association sends a very strong message that the UK is open for business and remains a prime destination to work on health research and innovation to improve lives.”


Rt Hon Greg Clark MP, Chair of the Science, Innovation and Technology Committee, said:

“If the news of the UK returning to Horizon Europe is true, it will be a welcome boost for both UK and EU science. UK science always brings a lot to international collaborations. Everyone gains from excellent UK researchers working with others to advance knowledge.”


Nicola Perrin MBE, CEO of the Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC), said:

“Finally the news we’ve been wating for -the UK is rejoining Horizon Europe. Ongoing Government commitment to cross-border collaboration in research is crucial to deliver benefits to patients. This will help improve confidence and stability in UK research, in which charities play a vital role. The announcement will be a huge relief to charities, and the researchers they fund.”


Tom Grinyer, CEO of the Institute of Physics, said:

“News of an agreement to join Horizon is incredibly welcome and if confirmed ends a period of real and damaging uncertainty for the UK science community. As the Institute of Physics has long highlighted Horizon association brings unparalleled opportunities backed by funding for collaboration – it is best for science, best for business and innovation, and best for the UK. Now we need to see the details and get on with the hard work of making up for lost time in joint projects, collaboration and innovating with our European partners.”


Prof Irene Tracey, Vice Chancellor of the University of Oxford said:

 “It is terrific to see UK researchers back at the heart of the world’s largest collaborative research programme. Everyone stands to gain from the new Horizon deal, which will facilitate increased opportunities for international collaboration on setting the scientific agenda, powering fresh discoveries and breakthroughs on issues affecting us all, including disease, climate change and AI.

“I know that my colleagues across Oxford stand ready to build on existing partnerships with EU researchers and to forge new ones. We were Europe’s most successful University for winning funds under the previous Horizon programme, and I fully expect the same level of imaginative and life-transforming projects under the new association.”


Dr Beth Thompson, Chief Strategy Officer at Wellcome, said: 

Joining the world’s largest international research programme sets science in the UK and Europe up for success. Being able to easily collaborate across borders stacks the odds in favour of scientists looking for solutions to the world’s urgent health challenges.

“Reaching this point has required the EU and the UK government to recognise the global benefits that scientific collaboration brings. The leadership they have shown here will create a lasting legacy for health, the economy, and the UK and the EU’s place in the world.”


Prof Martin Rees, Emeritus Professor of Cosmology and Astrophysics at the University of Cambridge, said:

If it is confirmed, this news will be acclaimed  with a rare level of consensus across the scientific community here and on mainland Europe. All  have been frustrated by the unconscionable delay in reaching agreement. Hardline Brexiteers should be pleased too. Some have claimed that we should  focus on attracting mobile talent from North America and  Asia. Indeed we should – but the UK will actually be more  attractive to such people if it’s more smoothly  plugged in to European collaborations.”


Prof Sir John Hardy, Professor of Neuroscience and Group Leader at the UK Dementia Research Institute, University College London (UCL), said:

“It is unfortunate that government believes decisions are completely reversible. As they must realise from recent budget debacles, they are not. Going back in is good. But irreversible damage has been done.”


James Naismith, Director of the Rosalind Franklin Institute, said;

“The science community in the UK will be relieved and encouraged by this outcome. Coupled to the announcement of Diamond II, this is a good day. The Prime Minister is to be congratulated. Making the UK an attractive place for science is very important for our prosperity. I hope we will also see movement on other pressing issues such as the uncompetitive costs that researchers face in choosing the UK.”

Dame Kate Bingham, Managing Partner, SV Health Investors, said:

“I am delighted to hear the UK is rejoining Horizon. Collaboration with the top European researchers is critical if the UK is to become a real science superpower. The UK bats above its weight in science and being part of Horizon means we can use that influence to drive forward world class research to transform human progress.”



Declared interests

The nature of this story means everyone quoted above could be perceived to have a stake in it. As such, our policy is not to ask for interests to be declared – instead, they are implicit in each person’s affiliation.

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