The end of the UK’s transition period to leave the EU is nearly upon us and there are still question marks over whether the country will leave with a deal! In anticipation, we look at how we expect the Grant Funding landscape will be affected by Brexit.

‘Deal’ or ‘No Deal’

The UK government is in negotiations with the EU to enable UK businesses to participate in the next generation of European research and innovation programmes starting in 2021 – Horizon Europe.

They secured the UK’s ability to continue to apply into Horizon 2020 until 31st December 2020; however past that date, we’re still unclear on what a ‘deal’ will look like, or to what extent UK organisations will be able to involved.

Luckily, there is some information available regarding the scenario of a ‘no deal’ Brexit.

EU Funding

The Government’s minimum aim for all scenarios post-Brexit is that UK organisations will still be able to participate in projects as a non-EU country, otherwise known as a ‘Third Country’.

As a Third Country, UK organisations can still bid to, participate in, and lead the majority of Horizon Europe projects, however there are likely to be some exclusions depending on competition eligibility criteria!

Prior to the UK leaving the EU in January 2020, the UK Government had planned a funding guarantee via UKRI, in the event of funding from the European Commission ceasing if the country left the transition period without a deal. Luckily, due to the Withdrawal Agreement, this guarantee does not seem to be needed as UKRI say:

“UK researchers and businesses can continue to apply for Horizon 2020 funding. This includes:

  • funding that will be awarded after 31 December 2020
  • projects that finish after 31 December 2020.”

And part of the gov.uk guidance states: “Previously the UK government guaranteed EU funding to provide stability for UK organisations. The guarantee will now no longer be required. In the very limited number of cases where continued participation by the UK is not possible for security related reasons, these projects will be eligible to enter a continuation process.”

The transition period will of course end in a couple of weeks and Horizon 2020 competitions will come to an end as they transition to Horizon Europe. We hope for a deal that will allow UK businesses access to Horizon Europe funding additional to the Third Country rules.

UK Funding

We think it is fair to say that the inability to apply for EU Funding competitions in the same way, will have a knock-on effect to the UK funding schemes available.

2020 has seen the number of Innovate UK applications spike to a new high as UK businesses try to find ways to fund innovation throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. The Smart Grants competition that closed in May 2020 received more than twice the number of applications compared to any previous round. We believe the increase in applications will continue into 2021 and beyond, making UK funding competitions more competitive than ever!

It is possible that UKRI, inclusive of Innovate UK, will provide more funding opportunities for UK businesses to fulfill the additional need for funding that will occur without the same access to EU funding. The popular EU grants that UK businesses were interested in applying for, tended to be for large multi-million-pound collaborative projects – so will the UK funding bodies provide an alternative to these?

Get in Touch

We will keep you updated as and when we find out more about the UK’s ability to access Horizon Europe funding competitions.

Should you have any questions in the meantime or would like to look at UK funding competitions as an alternative to EU funding, our team are available to help. Simply get in touch or book an appointment with one of our team.


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