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UK back in Horizon Europe – what does it mean in practice?

11th September 2023 at 9:52 am

The United Kingdom (UK) government and the European Commission (EC) just announced an agreement giving UK-based organisations full access to Horizon Europe and the Copernicus space programme.

After almost three years of access restrictions and seven years of uncertainty after the Brexit vote, we are glad that the wait is over and that UK-based organisations can fully benefit from Horizon Europe, like their peers from EU Member States and other fully Associated Countries.

Implications and timings of the UK association

UK organisations will be eligible to receive EU funding, including in prestigious individual funding schemes such as the European Research Council (ERC) grants, the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) Postdoctoral Fellowships (PF) and the European Innovation Council (EIC) Accelerator. They will also regain the possibility to coordinate collaborative projects.

This association agreement will enter into force on the 1st of January 2024. UK organisations will be able to fully participate in Horizon Europe from the 2024 Work Programmes and onwards. These conditions will also apply to 2024 calls that are already opened or will open this year.

For 2023 calls, where successful proposals are or will soon enter into the Grant Agreement preparation phase, UK-based entities will still have to participate as “Associated Partners”. Their participation will continue to be funded by the UK Horizon Europe guarantee scheme.

Project typeUp to 2023 calls2024 calls onwards
ERCEligible for application, but not for EU funding. If successful, they were funded by UKRI.UK universities can host ERC applicants and receive EU funding.
MSCA PFEligible for application, but not for EU funding. If successful, they were funded by UKRI.UK universities can host MSCA PF applicants and receive EU funding.
Collaborative projectsUK entities cannot coordinate projects. Participants funded by UKRI.UK entities can coordinate projects.
Participants funded by the EC.
EIC AcceleratorCould only apply for grant-, but not equity-financing.
If successful, they were funded by UKRI.
UK SMEs and start-ups can apply and receive funding for the grant-only option, but not for the blended finance.
Overview of changes for UK participation from 2023 to 2024 calls

… and Switzerland?

To this day, Switzerland is still considered a third country with no access to individual ERC and EIC funding schemes, no eligibility for Horizon Europe funding and no possibility to lead collaborative Horizon projects. As temporary alternatives to the individual EU grant schemes Switzerland lost access to, the Swiss government established the following transitional measures:

To enable the participation of Swiss-based organisations in Horizon collaborative projects, the Swiss State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) provides the necessary funding. Swiss-based organisations can thus participate in most collaborative projects as Associated Partners and be assured that their related costs will be covered by the Swiss government.

Further details on how to include Swiss partners in Horizon proposals can be found in a previous blog post.

Associated or not, we will continue supporting our UK and Swiss partners in our ongoing and future EU-funded projects. If you are planning to apply for funding from Horizon Europe or other European programmes and you have questions related to the participation of UK- and Swiss-based entities, please get in touch with our expert, Marco Cavallaro.

Marco Cavallaro

Marco Cavallaro
Research & Innovation Project Manager