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expert reaction to new science funding announcement

The Prime Minister set out his plan for innovation in the UK in his speech to the CBI, meanwhile the Science Minister, George Freeman, announced a raft of funding measures aimed at the UK’s R&D sector in a Written Ministerial Statement.


Dr Mark Downs CBiol CSci FRSB, Chief Executive of The Royal Society of Biology, said:

“Following the Prime Minister’s speech at the CBI today, we welcome the announcement of funds that support the scientific community during the negotiations on the UK’s association with European research programmes. The statement from Science Minister, George Freeman, outlined the £484m funds for R&D, to help mitigate the uncertainty created by the impasse of current discussions on the post-Brexit partnership between the EU and UK. We look forward to seeing Government focusing on innovation and the R&D sector to champion the growth of this country, which the Prime Minister spoke about during his speech this morning. The Royal Society of Biology urges that this must also involve finalising the association deal with EU, as international collaboration is critical for the future of innovation.”


Martin Smith, Head of Policy Lab at Wellcome, said:

“The Prime Minister is right to put investment in science and research at the heart of his innovation agenda. 

“Today’s targeted investment package is a fitting response to the ongoing uncertainty over whether the UK will join the Horizon Europe programme. It’s particularly good to see the uplift to the Quality-Related (QR) funding stream – this is an effective way of making sure that decisions on how best to manage the uncertainty caused by the delay are made by the institutions themselves.

“Joining Horizon Europe must remain the government’s priority – this is the best way to reach the UK’s science superpower goal. We continue to encourage government to explore every avenue possible to achieve this.”


Stephanie Smith, Head of Policy (Research and International) at the Russell Group, said:

“The additional funding will provide some welcome support to the research sector in the short-term while discussions regarding UK association to Horizon Europe continue.

“With over £500m already drawn down, the UK Government’s Horizon guarantee has been a success, reassuring researchers and innovators that they can continue to apply for grants and helping to keep the window for UK association open. It is important that the guarantee is extended beyond 2022 so that UK researchers can continue to participate in the 2023 ERC work programme.

“The research and science community on both sides of the channel continue to make clear that full UK participation in Horizon Europe remains the best outcome, and we hope to see a breakthrough soon that will unlock the enormous benefits it would bring to the UK and EU. In the meantime, this new investment in UK research excellence and infrastructure is a tangible realisation of the Government’s economic agenda, building on our people and ideas to deliver innovation-driven growth.”


Professor Linda Partridge, Vice President of the Royal Society, said

“Last week the Government committed to protecting the science budget. Today’s announcement shows the Government’s commitment to putting science at the heart of plans for increasing productivity and driving economic growth.

“The ongoing failure to associate to Horizon Europe remains damaging to UK science and the best solution remains securing rapid association. In the meantime, the funding announced today is a welcome intervention to help protect and stabilise the science sector.”


Prof John Womersley, College of Science & Engineering at the University of Edinburgh, and former Chief Executive of the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), said:

“Now that he is back in post as Science Minister, it looks as if George Freeman is moving quickly to mitigate some of the immediate impacts of the current impasse over UK association to Horizon Europe by releasing almost half a billion pounds of the funds that were set aside for that purpose, funds which were protected in last week’s autumn statement. This is a good thing.  I’m sure the science community is keen to learn more details of how this infusion of funding will be applied.”


Professor Sarah Main, CaSE Executive Director, said:

“The Government has moved to bolster its stance on research and innovation today with a speech by the Prime Minister on innovation and an announcement1 from the Science Minister of £484m for R&D. These funds are intended to mitigate the effect of the ongoing impasse in negotiations on association to European research programmes, and it appears likely the Government have redeployed some of the funds set aside for association for this purpose. We welcome measures to counteract uncertainty, including those aimed at retaining talent in the UK. However, the best outcome would be finalising an association deal.

“The Prime Minister spoke about the importance of innovation for growth and public services in his speech to the CBI this morning. International collaboration, especially with our nearest neighbours, is a foundation stone of research and innovation. The Prime Minister now has an opportunity to deliver on his innovation ambitions by building on his reset of relations with European leaders to cement this vital partnership on research and innovation between the EU and UK.”



Written Ministerial Statement by Science Minister George Freeman –



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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