January 15, 2020, by Rob Ounsworth

Brexit: European research funding

Guest blog by Professor Dame Jessica Corner
Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Knowledge Exchange

The UK’s position in Europe – and implications for future access to European funding by research institutions such as the University of Nottingham – has been uncertain over many months.

Following the result of the General Election the picture has become clearer. The Withdrawal Agreement Bill is now passing through Parliament and expected to become law, meaning the UK will leave the European Union with a deal on 31 January.

As we approach this date, I would like to update you on opportunities for our University to secure European funding for research and innovation, and underscore our continued commitment to our partners, colleagues and research activity in Europe.

The University remains very much ‘open for business’
as a partner of fellow European research institutions

We will continue to forge exciting collaborations with new and existing partners across Europe. And we will continue to celebrate the essential contribution of our colleagues from every nation in the EU, attracting, supporting and retaining their world-class talent.

Underpinning these pledges is a key message to all our researchers that funding and partnership opportunities in Europe are open and it is vital that we remain alert and agile in responding to these opportunities, specifically:

  • the University and all UK participants retain full eligibility to apply to all Horizon 2020 calls until the end of the programme in December 2020
  • the Withdrawal Agreement maintains that all current projects will continue to be funded by the European Commission for their full duration
  • successful proposals submitted during the transition period, up to the end of 2020, will be funded by the Commission for the full duration of the project

It is also worth noting that, for the transition period, the European Commission’s formal guidance for evaluators states that “experts should not evaluate proposals with UK participants any differently than before.” There is therefore no concrete reason for UK partners to be excluded from European consortia.

Jessica Corner

I wholeheartedly encourage you
to maintain dialogues
with our European colleagues
and open up new conversations

There are many remaining calls across the various programmes of Horizon 2020, representing opportunities to obtain funding for excellent individual research projects via European Research Council (ERC) grants, host exceptional early career researchers from the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship and collaborate with high-quality European partners on the thematically driven programmes such as Societal Challenges and Industrial Leadership.

The programme to follow Horizon 2020 is Horizon Europe and will commence in 2021. It is still in development and the UK’s status with respect to Horizon Europe is as yet unconfirmed. While the UK Government has indicated that our association to Horizon Europe is very much on the table for negotiation, Nottingham, in conjunction with many other UK universities, will continue to lobby strongly for this outcome, as well as for an immigration system that supports universities’ ability to attract EU and global talent with minimal barriers.

I wholeheartedly encourage you to maintain dialogues with our European colleagues and open up new conversations. The funding successes we secure in the coming weeks and months will support projects delivering research in the years beyond the transition period ending in 2020, and confirm to our current and prospective partners our commitment to forging international networks.

Nottingham remains a global and European-facing university. Only by working with European and international partners can we best address complex global challenges, and I know our community remains committed to these ideals in such challenging times.

Best wishes

Jessica Corner's signature


For further information on Horizon 2020 and other European funding opportunities, please contact Matthew Rackley of Research and Innovation.


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