The Horizon Europe funding programme is a key source of funding for researchers at the University of Essex. Here, Deputy Dean of Partnerships (Europe) David Briggs offers reassurance to University staff and European partners about the current situation and the UK guarantee.

Essex researchers have had considerable success with the Horizon Europe scheme since its launch, and it is imperative that we continue to engage fully with consortia calls, partnering with European collaborators to produce world-leading, high impact research.

On 22 December 2021, the EC confirmed that UK organisations were eligible to apply for Horizon Europe calls. Because of delays to the UK’s full association to Horizon Europe, the UK government has introduced a UK guarantee. This guarantee ensures that successful UK applicants for Horizon Europe grant awards will be guaranteed funding from the UK government regardless of the outcome of the UK’s efforts to associate to Horizon Europe.

Comprehensive guarantee

This guarantee is comprehensive and enables UK organisations to engage in consortia calls and this should not place additional administrative burden on EU leads. The aim of the guarantee is to provide reassurance both to the UK research and innovation community and to European partners to enable collaborative research. The UK Horizon Europe Guarantee is valid for the entire duration of the awarded projects and is delivered through the government’s UK Research and Innovation.

The current guarantee covers all calls for which a grant agreement will be signed by the end of 2022. On 20 July 2022, the UK government announced how the UK will transition to a new R&D programme if unable to associate to Horizon Europe and this includes important guarantees for continued participation in Horizon Europe. The measures include: 

  • the Horizon Europe Guarantee – If we are unable to associate, we will fund applications that are submitted to a Horizon Europe funding call with an EU final call deadline date before the point of non-association, are successful in the EU evaluation and meet the eligibility criteria of the guarantee. This includes those where grant signature dates fall beyond the end of 2022. This would pick up where the current guarantee has left off, so there is no gap, and no eligible successful applications would go unfunded
  • funding for successful, in-flight applications - We will support UK entities with eligible in-flight applications to Horizon Europe (to calls that have closed or are open at the point of non-association, where such applications are not being evaluated by the EC), by assessing such applications domestically, to ensure the best get funded should the EC no longer carry out the evaluation
  • Third Country Participation - Around two thirds of Horizon Europe calls are open to UK researchers and companies as Third Country applicants, as part of consortia with at least three other applicants from EU member states or associated countries, provided they bring their own funding. As this is a priority for businesses and researchers, the government will fund all eligible UK entities participating in any such consortia signing grant agreements before 31 March 2025.The government will consider our approach to funding for Third Country Participation beyond this date and make an announcement by October 2024.

For full details are on - supporting UK R&D and collaborative research beyond European programmes

What does this guarantee mean in practice for UK participation in consortia calls?

At application stage, UK organisations should be treated in the same way as all other beneficiaries to the call. UK institutions can lead work-packages and take a leading role in the scientific management of projects funded through Horizon Europe, though they cannot, at the present time, act as the overall lead institution.

Once the grant is awarded, if the UK is not at the time fully Associated to Horizon Europe, the EC will ask UK organisation(s) to be treated as an Associated Partner (see article 9.1 of the EC Model Grant Agreement and the budget that was originally requested from the EC to cover UK organisations’ costs will be paid by the UK government. The UK organisations will not sign the Grant Agreement but will sign a consortium agreement, eg DESCA.

UK Horizon Europe guarantee, updated September 2022.

 Application issues

Should you experience any difficulties during or post application please initially raise these with your departmental Director of Research and/or Head of Department.

Where necessary these can then be escalated through the appropriate channels to colleagues in the REO, the Deputy Dean of Partnerships (Europe) David Briggs, the Dean of Partnerships (Research) Professor David O'Mahony and Pro-Vice-Chancellor Research Professor Chris Greer.