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Horizon 2020: three years in, UK tops league of participants
UK universities, SMEs and other organisations participated in more EU funded research and innovation projects – over 7500 - than their counterparts from any other country over the first three years (2014-16) of the EU's flagship Horizon 2020 programme.
The figures come from Horizon 2020 in full swing, detailed data published by the European Commission.
UK researchers and innovators directly received 15.2% of the overall funding available, as well as benefitting indirectly from funding allocated to their project partners from elsewhere. This was broadly consistent with previous performance and was second only to Germany whose researchers received 16.7% of the overall funding.
In 2014, there were 2,712 UK participants in signed EU grant agreements. Their number decreased to 2, 330 in 2015 and then slightly increased in 2016 to 2, 490. The absolute funding for the UK decreased from around €1.3bn in both 2014 and 2015 to €1.16bn in 2016.
Almost half the proposals submitted for Horizon 2020 funding were evaluated by independent experts as high-quality. But funds were sufficient to support only one such applicant in four.. To be able to fund all high-quality applications Horizon 2020 – whose current budget is €77bn – would have needed €66bn more.
In other data, more than half (54.4%) of the participants in Horizon 2020 are newcomers who have not participated in the previous EU research funding programmes. Of these, about half (48.9%) are SMEs. Alongside Spain, the UK has both the highest number of SMEs who apply for funding and a high number of companies who succeed in their applications.
The Horizon 2020 budget was increased by nearly 40% for the 2014-2020 period, compared to the previous 2007-13 long-term EU budget framework. It was the only major area of the EU budget to see a substantial increase of this sort This increase was strongly backed by the UK.
All EU member states participate fully in the programme and share in its design, both at strategic political level and on scientific committees.
The programme is also open to non-members. Other then certain developing countries, they are required to contribute to its funding, under various negotiated arrangements.