Why Horizon Europe announcement is hugely welcome news for Yorkshire: Beckie Hart

The recent announcement that the UK will participate in Horizon Europe – the world’s biggest research funding project – provided hugely welcome news for businesses across the UK, including here in Yorkshire and the Humber.

It also represents a significant victory for all of those stakeholders that recognised the immense benefits of participation and campaigned positively to achieve that outcome.

Our region’s universities led this charge and I’m proud that the CBI was able to provide so much supporting evidence from businesses to help them.

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With a budget of €95.5 billion over seven years, the EU’s primary funding programme for research and development presents tremendous opportunities for UK businesses. Crucially, it also moves us a step closer to becoming the science and innovation superpower we aspire to be.

The CBI says Yorkshire can benefit from the UK's involvement with Horizon EuropeThe CBI says Yorkshire can benefit from the UK's involvement with Horizon Europe
The CBI says Yorkshire can benefit from the UK's involvement with Horizon Europe

If we’re serious about boosting the UK’s competitiveness, and tackling shared challenges like climate change, collaboration with EU partners on R&D is absolutely essential.

We’ve seen the tangible benefits of this kind of cooperation in the past.

Through the predecessor programme to Horizon Europe, over 2,000 UK businesses received a total of €1.4bn in funding, with more than €840m going to SMEs.

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With access to Horizon, businesses in our region can directly benefit from innovation grant funding. A wide variety of firms qualify for Horizon programmes – spanning from smaller startups to big multi-nationals. It’s a real opportunity for businesses looking to accelerate their R&D initiatives and help bolster UK growth.

Beckie Hart has her say.Beckie Hart has her say.
Beckie Hart has her say.

One great example is “Innovation Europe” funding. It covers early proof-of-concept work – supporting SMEs to carry technology through from pre-commercial to market and scale-up stages.

But there are plenty of other benefits beyond financial contribution for example firms will be able to build collaborative networks across the EU and beyond – with non-EU participants including New Zealand and Norway, amongst others.

Some Horizon Europe projects involve hundreds of business innovators and academics working across dozens of countries.

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This provides the perfect opportunity to build lasting partnerships and forge the technologies of the future together.

It also puts UK firms in top spot to lead consortia and take on a greater role in steering research and innovation collaborations.

The success of previous European Horizon programmes is undeniable.

We’ve already seen a UK-based pharmaceutical company, that helped develop more effective asthma treatments, being supported through past Horizon programmes.

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Similarly, an additive manufacturing firm has absolutely transformed the way it develops new products and services as a result. The UK’s involvement in Horizon puts us in a prime position to lead the way on developing cutting-edge technologies.

Given the current challenges firms are facing, with a tough economic outlook affecting business confidence, policymakers and business leaders alike are laser focused on boosting the UK’s economic productivity. UK access to Horizon provides another important tool to achieve that goal, allowing us to go further and faster on innovation.

Here at the CBI, we look forward to working closely with the Government and with our Higher Education members, to make sure that firms in Yorkshire and the Humber can get the best value for money from Horizon.

Beckie Hart is CBI regional director for Yorkshire and Humber