Businesses urged to register now or lose out on EU research grants in no-deal Brexit

Up to 3,000 organisations still haven’t signed up to guarantee Horizon 2020 funding continues undisrupted

Image of the EU and UK flags breaking apart

The government has urged organisations that benefit from European Union (EU) research funding to join a touted UK-led replacement scheme as soon as possible or risk significant delays to future grants.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has estimated that almost 3,000 organisations in receipt of funds from the EU's Horizon 2020 project are yet to sign up to a programme that guarantees continuity in a no-deal Brexit scenario.

Although 5,500 registrants have already submitted their details to an 'online portal', to receive future updates, approximately 2,700 public and private sector organisations are yet to do so.

This is despite the fact the UK is currently due to leave the EU without a deal in less than a hundred days.

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"We have guaranteed that UK organisations and businesses who receive EU science and research funding will continue to do so even if we leave the EU without a deal at the end of March," said science and innovation minister Chris Skidmore.

"I want to ensure researchers and innovators have the confidence to push on with their great work, which is why I urge businesses to register their details on this simple online portal for Horizon 2020 grants.

"It takes just ten minutes per grant for the data to be inputted and more than 5,500 registrations have already been received."

The government pledged in 2016 that it would underwrite all research grants from the Horizon 2020 programme and that organisations expected to lose out on in the event of a no-deal Brexit would still receive the money they applied for.

But thousands risk losing out if they don't sign up, according to BEIS, which is urging Horizon 2020 organisations to register their details. A spokesperson told IT Pro that while there was no fixed deadline, organisations are urged to do this as soon as possible or their funding might be delayed.

If an organisation leaves it till 5 March, for instance, ahead of a no-deal Brexit on 29 March 2019, they will risk delays to future Horizon 2020 funding.

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Approximately 4,500 of these organisations are classed as higher education institutions, such as colleges or universities, while around 1,000 of the registrants are from businesses, research organisations, public bodies and charities.

The online portal is managed by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), a non-departmental body that allocates research and innovation funding.

There are few details as to what will happen next, or how the research funding will subsequently be allocated, as the government itself has yet to determine the terms of its withdrawal with the EU in any meaningful way.

Should the UK depart without a deal, the organisations that have registered with the online portal will then receive updates on these next steps, according to the government.

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"I'd like to thank everyone who has already taken the time to register their information on UKRI's portal or submit multiple grants using our template," said UKRI's operations director Anne Dixon.

"We have had contact from most universities and in particular now, we look forward to hearing from more businesses and other organisations with UK Horizon 2020 grants.

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"We would welcome the research and innovation community's support in spreading the word to other partners to help us ensure we reach everyone who is in receipt of a grant."

As of October 2018, the UK had the second-highest number of participants in Horizon 2020 since its launch in 2014, more than 10,200, while securing approximately 5.1 billion during this period.

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