UK business groups are urging Sunak to rejoin the Horizon research program

British business groups and executives have urged Rishi Sunak to rejoin the EU’s €95.5 billion research program Horizon Europe “as soon as possible” amid growing fears that the country’s scientists will be left out of key international projects.

In a letter provided to the Financial Times, BusinessLDN and the Northern Powerhouse Partnership called on the Prime Minister to secure access to Horizon “to ensure the UK remains at the forefront of research and development”.

Their letter marks the latest call from industry groups and leaders for ministers to speed up Britain’s re-entry into Horizon after the London-Brussels post-Brexit trade deal opened the door for Associate membership for Northern Ireland.

Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, said last month that she was “happy to start immediately. . . Working towards an Association Agreement’ as a result of the Windsor Framework.

But the process could take months, as people close to Sunak say he has concerns about the cost and need of re-entering Horizon, and is considering moving forward with plans to fund domestic science.

In their letter, BusinessLDN chief John Dickie and NPP chief Henri Murison Sunak called on Sunak “to rejoin as soon as possible,” saying the previous Horizon program had resulted in 31,000 global collaborations, of which nearly 2,000 were direct with companies nationwide benefited, including many smaller corporations and startups.

Noting that the universities of the Russell Group alone have received €1.8 billion in grants from the European Research Council for economic growth.”

Dickie and Murison – whose groups collectively have 200 members from different sectors across the British capital and the north of England – wrote that belonging to Horizon is “not just about individual projects” but “is about the benefits of the broader network” ” this world”. leading consortium of scientists, researchers and companies”.

The UK government has guaranteed eligible research projects unable to sign grant agreements with the EU by June 30, but the business groups described this as a “short-term band-aid”.

Other businessmen have also called on the UK to rejoin the Horizon research programme, echoing the demands of many of Britain’s top scientists.

Benjamin Reid, program director for innovation at the CBI, said that if Sunak is “really serious about his ambition to make the UK a science and innovation superpower, then he needs to prioritize the UK’s connection with Horizon Europe”.

Many smaller companies in the science and technology sector are also concerned about cuts in other investment incentives, such as B. the tax credit system for research and development.

“The non-association of Horizon Europe will only reduce the attractiveness of the UK for research and development and encourage companies to invest in research and development elsewhere,” said Reid.

Meanwhile, Stephen Phipson, head of Make UK, the manufacturers’ trade association, said in a speech last week that Horizon has “always been one of those areas of the EU budget where the UK gets out more than it takes in”.

“If the government is to achieve its stated goal of becoming a scientific superpower, then it is vital that the UK retains its place in the programme. This should be one of the main pillars around which a modern industrial strategy could be built,” he added.

The government said: “We will continue to discuss how we can work constructively with the EU on a number of areas, including future collaboration on research and innovation.” UK business groups are urging Sunak to rejoin the Horizon research program

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