What will happen with Brexit?  No-one yet knows for certain but as October 31st approaches we felt it was prudent to remind people of the official UK advice on EU research and innovation funding.

The Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) confirmed on the 9th October that the UK should be able to participate in H2020 (with a few exceptions e.g. mono beneficiary European Research Council grants such as ERC Starting Grants and Consolidator Grants) as a non-EU country if we leave without a deal.  This announcement provides some clarity on future potential engagements.

What else do we know?

Deal Scenario

Under a Deal scenario the situation for research and Innovation funding is reasonably clear.

The Government has guaranteed funding of all contracted projects receiving Horizon2020 and FP7 (7th Framework Programme) that have been registered on its national portal.  It also commits to funding any successful projects that are submitted before the end of 2020 for the lifetime of the project.  The Central Finance team has registered all relevant projects.

It has also guaranteed all ERDF and Interreg funding in receipt of a funding award letter for the lifetime of the projects.

No Deal Scenario

Under a no-deal scenario the situation is less clear, particularly regarding those projects which are funded through the European Territorial Cooperation funding (ETC).  For the University of Portsmouth this relates to ERDF and Interreg (Two Seas and Channel Programmes)

Although the Government guarantee for the funding of ERDF projects remains in force, regardless of the nature of any exit, the Ministry for Housing and Local Government (MHCLG) that manages this funding within the UK has put a caveat on this for a ‘no deal’ scenario.  MHCLG anticipates that they will continue to assess projects with a view to issuing contracts. However, these funds are intrinsically linked to EU agreements that may themselves not be enforceable or desirable in a no-deal scenario.  Therefore, MHCLG have indicated that there may be a delay whilst necessary bureaucratic and legal processes are resolved.

Similarly, with Interreg, the funding for contracted projects is secure.  However, as Interreg projects necessarily includes European partnerships, they are concerned about partners’ ability to continue to deliver their agreed programmes given the uncertainty of any underpinning legal agreements.  The Government is working on the new frameworks that would be required.

Remaining Uncertainties

The Government has so far concentrated on the financial and legal aspects of the implications of Deal/No-Deal scenario Brexit for R&I funding in the UK.

Although this is undeniably good news, it looks like the funding itself is going to remain available (both within Europe and the UK’s own funds)  it does not address the experience of many who have not been invited to participate in future projects by concerned collaborators.   Third Country membership will not give the same access to H2020 and there is as yet no mention of UK’s ability to access FP9.  More work is also required in order to enable the UK to continue to participate in Interreg projects post-Brexit.

So, we should continue with the projects that we have, and should not be put off actively pursuing these funding streams whilst the guarantees are in force.  The main winners though for the next few months will undoubtedly be the lawyers.

More information is likely to start flowing soon from central Government as the Brexit negotiations continue over the next weeks.  Research and Innovation Services will be updating their research community as new information is confirmed, please refer to our blogs and newsletters for updates.