Policy: UK Government Unveils £14.6 Billion Horizon Europe Alternative ‘Pioneer’ Prospective Programme

While association to Horizon Europe remains the priority, the new Pioneer prospectus sets out how the Government would protect and support UK science, research, technology and innovation sectors should association fail to materialise.

The UK Government has published its long-anticipated ‘Pioneer’ prospective programme, setting out how the Government would protect and support UK science, research, technology and innovation (SRTI) if the UK and EU fail to reach an agreement on the UK’s association to Horizon Europe.

Publishing the prospective programme, the Government reiterated its long-held position that association to Horizon Europe remains its preference, stating the following:

“The Government is discussing association to Horizon Europe with the EU and hopes these negotiations will be successful. That is our preference. But association would need to be on the basis of a good deal for the UK’s researchers, businesses and taxpayers. If we are not able to secure association on fair and appropriate terms, we will implement Pioneer – our bold, ambitious alternative.”

The initial details of Pioneer are being published at this stage in order to give researchers and businesses the opportunity to provide their input and to increase certainty for the sectors if talks fail.

A total of £14.6 billion would be allocated to the Pioneer programme, representing the same amount of funding the UK would have paid to associate to Horizon Europe had the UK associated from 2021 to 2027. The programme itself would consist of the following four interconnected ‘offers’ that have been designed in partnership with the UK SRTI sectors.

  • Pioneer Talent which would enhance the UK’s investment in discovery research as well as talent investment.
  • Pioneer Global which would complement and enhance partners’ existing international partnerships.
  • Pioneer Innovation which would increase UK support to business-led innovation across sectors, technologies and UK regions.
  • Pioneer Infrastructure which would provide additional funding into UK SRTI infrastructure, building on successful programmes such as World Class labs.

An overview of future considerations of UK alternatives for the Copernicus and Euratom R&T programmes is also included in the prospectus.

The long-term programme would be established as quickly as possible if needed, and the Government would undertake intensive engagement with researchers and businesses to determine priorities for the programme.

The Government will continue to engage intensively with representatives across the business, research and innovation sectors on aspects of the Talent, Global, Innovation, and Infrastructure programmes, with the aim of ensuring that the proposals meet the needs of the whole SRTI community. As part of this process, all interested stakeholders within the extensive SRTI communities are invited to provide feedback via the dedicated email address.

The Pioneer prospectus can be accessed in full at the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT) website.

(This report was the subject of a ResearchConnect Newsflash.)