From Horizon Europe to Plan B

Think tank: HEPI

Author(s): Marco Cavallaro

September 29, 2022

This report from UK think tank HEPI looks at Horizon Europe and Plan B research funding and turning adversity into opportunity.

The European Union’s Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, Horizon Europe, will soon start its third year but UK participation remains uncertain. This uncertainty, arising originally from the outcome of the Brexit referendum and now prolonged by the dispute over the Northern Ireland Protocol, has led to less participation in EU-funded projects in the UK. With hopes for a full association fading fast, the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has outlined details of transitional measures and a long-term alternative to Horizon Europe, so-called ‘Plan B’. Nearly £7 billion was set aside in 2021 for either association with Horizon Europe or Plan B, but there are fears that the longer the uncertainty continues, then some of this funding could be at risk. In Horizon Europe and Plan B research funding: Turning adversity into opportunity (HEPI Policy Note 38), Marco Cavallaro of the Università della Svizzera Italiana in Switzerland argues full association with Horizon Europe remains preferable but provides a checklist for making Plan B work, including: incentivising the participation of less well-resourced UK universities in European research and innovation, for example through staff exchange schemes; allowing greater freedom for individual researchers to devise their own research topics; co-funding schemes between the UK Government and the private sector for applied research projects; minimising bureaucracy with short and simple applications; and guaranteeing EU-based entities’ eligibility for UK funding, at least in specific areas, to help pave the way for regaining full association.