ARIA: A problem on the Horizon?

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Expert Opinion
March 22, 2023

Ambiguity around the UK’s access to the Horizon Programme has also been identified as an area that needs addressing. Since the Brexit referendum in 2016, the dialogue surrounding Britain’s ongoing involvement in the EU’s flagship research programme, Horizon Europe, has been fraught – and the subject of numerous U-turns.

Ayming’s inaugural UK Innovation Barometer examines the current state of the UK’s innovation landscape, as well as considering the various reforms that have the potential to influence businesses operating across the technology, manufacturing, food & beverage, construction, financial services, and pharmaceutical industries.

In November 2022, Ayming conducted a survey of 200 senior innovation, finance, tax, and CEOs/MDs in the UK. Survey respondents are all at CXO, director or head of department level, and evenly split across SMEs (companies with 250 employees or fewer) and larger companies.

Having negotiated the UK’s access to Horizon funding in the Brexit deal, the decision was taken in July to block UK research programmes from applying. The result has been widespread confusion and panic for scientists based in the UK that rely on funding allocated from Horizon.

It is, therefore, unsurprising that 75 per cent of respondents agreed that establishing backup funding to Horizon was at least very important, with over one-in-five citing it as absolutely critical.

UK stands to lose an estimated £14 billion in funding

Njy Rios, Director R&D Incentives at Ayming UK, comments, “In being left out of Horizon, the UK stands to lose an estimated £14 billion in funding. And it’s clear that businesses need reassurance that the funding gap will be filled. Ambiguity during times of acute economic challenge will result in an unwanted drop in activity”.

Interestingly, the same proportion of respondents agree that facilitating collaborations with Horizon is, at minimum, very important, with more – as many as one-in-four – stating that this is absolutely critical.

Rios continues, “The problem with Horizon goes deeper than the funding. It’s also about participating in cutting-edge R&D and collaborating with multi-national partners and experts to solve the biggest challenges facing the world as a whole. For UK innovation to be part of the solution, cross-border collaboration with other countries is a must”.

Unsurprisingly, the manufacturing sector, which – as identified in our first chapter – relies heavily on collaboration across its entire supply chain, is particularly driving this push for collaboration with Horizon, with 88 per cent citing the facilitation of this as at least very important.

Mark Smith, Partner of R&D Incentives and Grants at Ayming UK remarks, “If the UK is to succeed in its attempt to establish itself as a science superpower, collaborations with regional research programmes like Horizon will be a valuable booster and certainly raise its international reputation.”

To discover the insights in full, click the button to download Ayming’s UK Innovation Barometer.


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