The government is announcing today a package of up to £484m funding to invest in the UK R&D sector and to secure the UK fusion sector’s commercial leadership and capabilities, while the EU continues to block our association.
The ongoing uncertainty over access to EU Programmes (Horizon, Copernicus, Euratom R&T and Fusion for Energy) is placing increasing pressure on UK universities and research organisations, as well as causing significant issues for the UK’s Fusion and Earth Observation sectors.
UK researchers should already be part of these programmes. However the EU have now delayed our association for nearly two years. The UK has done everything it can to secure association, including entering into formal consultations to encourage the EU to implement their obligations.
It remains the Government’s preference to associate to EU R&D programmes and the Government remains ready to discuss association with the EU, but we cannot wait forever. Our priority is to invest in the UK’s R&D sector, whether through association or, if delays continue, alternative measures.
The investments announced today include:
- £30m Talent and Research Stabilisation Fund.
- £100m Quality-Related (QR) funding for English universities with additional funding for the Devolved Administrations.
- £200m for UK Research Infrastructures.
- £42.1m for the Fusion Industry Programme.
- £84m for Joint European Torus (JET) Operations.
Over the last few months, officials and I have consulted widely with the research community - this package responds to what we have been hearing are their biggest challenges. These investments are UK wide and will provide targeted support during this time of uncertainty. They aim to support staff retention and local talent strategies at eligible universities and research organisations; ensure the UK’s labs remain world class and at the cutting edge of R&D; and offer universities and research organisations the discretion to apply the funding in ways that best suit their local needs. Furthermore they will stimulate and accelerate the growth of the UK’s fusion industry, delivering a thriving UK fusion ecosystem and strengthening the UK’s position as leaders in the future global fusion market.
Further to the investments announced today, the government will shortly be announcing new investment and projects to boost the Earth Observation community and mitigate the challenges caused by the delays to association to Copernicus.
It remains the government’s preference to associate to EU programmes as envisaged under the TCA, but we cannot wait forever to invest the funding set aside for association in our world-leading R&D sector. Earlier this year we set out details of alternatives proposals which we will implement in the event that association is no longer possible. Further details of these plans will be published shortly.
This statement has also been made in the House of Lords