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Q&A for researchers: Access to research funding

Will the Royal Society continue to support EU and international scientists/researchers from around the world?

Yes, the Royal Society remains committed to providing funding opportunities for outstanding UK, EU and international scientists working both in the UK and abroad as part of our strategic priorities to promote excellence in science and to support international scientific collaboration.

The opportunities for researchers from around the world that are working in the UK or intending on working in the UK, that we offer include: 

Early career researchers:

  • University Research Fellowship     
    This Fellowship provides the opportunity to build an independent research career. Those appointed are expected to be strong candidates for permanent posts in universities at the end of their fellowships

  • Dorothy Hodgkin Fellowship  
    This scheme offers a recognised first step into an independent research career for outstanding scientists at an early stage of their research career who require a flexible working pattern due to personal circumstances, such as parenting or caring responsibilities or health-related reasons

  • Sir Henry Dale Fellowship  
    This scheme is for outstanding post-doctoral scientists wishing to build their own UK-based, independent research career addressing an important biomedical question

Senior career researchers:

  • Research Professorship  
    These are the Society’s premier research awards and the aim of this scheme is to release the best leading researchers from teaching and administration allowing them to focus on research
  • Royal Society Wolfson Fellowship 
    The scheme provides universities and research institutions with long-term support to make strategic research appointments. This funding can be used flexibly by the award-holder and can include salary enhancement, research expenses and support for their team 

Researchers with an interest in industry, innovation and increasing research capacity and infrastructure:

  • Industry Fellowship  
    This scheme is for academic scientists who want to work on a collaborative project with industry and for scientists in industry who want to work on a collaborative project with an academic organisation
  • APEX Award  
    This scheme runs in partnership with the British Academy and Royal Academy of Engineering, with support from the Leverhulme Trust, to offer established independent researchers an exciting opportunity to pursue genuine interdisciplinary and curiosity-driven research to benefit wider society
  • Research Grants  
    This scheme provides ‘seed corn’ funding for scientists in the UK who are at an early stage in their career and want to purchase specialised equipment and consumables
  • Wolfson Laboratory Refurbishment Grant  
    This scheme aims to improve the existing physical infrastructure in UK universities to promote high quality scientific research. The proposed refurbishment can either be for a UK laboratory or an overseas laboratory wholly or majority owned and operated by a UK based research organisation or university

Researchers with an interest in international research or wishing to be a coapplicant on an international project:

  • International Exchanges Scheme
  • For scientists in the UK who want to stimulate new collaborations with leading scientists overseas in any country through either a one-off visit or bilateral travel
  • JSPS Postdoctoral Fellowship  
    This scheme provides the opportunity for highly qualified young researchers from the UK to conduct cooperative research with leading research groups in universities and other Japanese institutions
  • International Collaboration Award  
    This award as part of the Global Challenges Research Fund offers an exciting opportunity to foster international collaboration between outstanding research groups in the UK and overseas, with a view to generating new approaches to global challenges and problems facing developing countries
  • Challenge-led Grants  
    This new award as part of the Global Challenges Research Fund with the UK National Academies provides support to interdisciplinary Research Consortia focusing on addressing global challenges. These consortia will consist of one UK-based laboratory and up to three research groups from developing countries
  • Newton Advanced Fellowship  
    This scheme provides mid-career international researchers who have already established (or are in the process of establishing) a research group with an opportunity to develop the research strengths and capabilities of their research group through training, collaboration and reciprocal visits with a partner in the UK
  • Newton International Fellowship  
    This scheme is for non-UK scientists who are at an early stage of their research career and wish to conduct postdoctoral research in the UK
  • Newton Mobility Grants  
    This scheme provides mobility grants to provide international researchers with funding towards travel, subsistence and research expenses for either a one-off short visit to explore opportunities for building lasting networks or for bilateral visits to strengthen emerging collaborations

Will UK scientists be able to take part in Horizon 2020 once the UK leaves the EU?

The agreement reached between the UK and EU in December 2017 means that the UK will continue to pay net contributions until the end of the current EU budget plan in 2020 and therefore will continue to participate in Horizon 2020 to its end. This is an agreement in principle at this point, which the UK and EU have both committed to translating into a legally-binding Withdrawal Agreement as soon as possible.

If this Withdrawal Agreement is not agreed, and the UK leaves the EU with no deal, the UK government has committed to ensuring that all successful UK proposals submitted before EU exit on 29 March 2019 are funded to ensure that UK-based researchers can continue to participate fully in Horizon 2020 to this point. On 24 July, the Treasury announced a further extension to this underwrite which will cover successful bids to programmes open to Third Country participation that are submitted between exit day and the end of 2020. Third countries are able to participate in some Horizon 2020 funded projects, but this would not be akin to full participation.

The UK government has published a Q&A, which clarifies the UK’s eligibility to participate in Horizon 2020

Will UK scientists be able to take part in the next Framework Programme, Horizon Europe?

The next European research funding framework, Framework Programme 9 which is now known as Horizon Europe, is currently in development and will run from 2021 to 2027. 

There are many different ways that non-EU countries participate in European research funding programmes – you can read more about these in our explainer: Which countries can access European research funding?

The terms by which non-EU countries can participate are outlined in the Regulation that establishes the programme. This is developed by the EU Commission and scrutinised by the EU Parliament and Council of the EU. Once the programme is agreed, the exact details of association would need to be negotiated with the EU. Read more about the draft Regulation.

The Society is calling for the UK to:

  • seek an association agreement that enables access to all aspects of the EU’s research and innovation programme, Horizon Europe, with full engagement and influence. This will include the ability to influence and, through the offer of the UK’s considerable expertise and leadership in science, to help shape the content and direction of the programme and its successors, consistent with the progressive and international vision articulated in the LAB-FAB-APP report. This would also include active support in the evaluation and peer review of the programmes. 
  • seek to establish an early agreement on this role in shaping the EU’s research and innovation programme, committing funding on the basis of playing a key role in its development. That funding commitment should meet the UK’s obligations to all aspects of the programme, and reflect the full value and benefit of awards made to UK applicants. This funding should be additional to existing research and innovation spending commitments.

Read our factsheet (PDF) for more information about why this is important for scientific research and innovation.

Both the UK government and European counterparts have outlined their aspiration for future engagement between the UK and the EU on research and innovation. 

  • The UK government has stated its ambition to: “agree a far-reaching science and innovation agreement with the EU that establishes a framework for future collaboration” and in a speech in May 2018, the Prime Minister clarified that this agreement includes an ambition to associate to the European Framework Programmes going forward “The United Kingdom would like the option to fully associate ourselves with the excellence-based European science and innovation programmes – including the successor to Horizon 2020 and Euratom R&T.” Further detail on the UK’s offer to the EU on science and innovation is outlined in this slide pack
  • In 2017, a report by an independent High Level Group focused on maximising the impact of EU research & innovation programme chaired by Pascal Lamy - LAB-FAB-APP - highlighted that “full and continued engagement with the UK within the post-2020 EU R&I programme remains an obvious win-win for the UK and the EU”. 
  • In 2018, the UK government published their position on how FP9 can provide the greatest social and economic benefits for European citizens. The UK government has also published a slide pack outlining their vision for the future UK-EU partnership for science, research and innovation.
  • On 12 July 2018, the UK government published a White Paper on the future relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union which sets out an ambition to reach a science and innovation accord.
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