In response to the publication of 'Supporting UK R&D and collaborative research beyond European programmes', Professor Dame Anne Johnson PMedSci, President of the Academy of Medical Sciences, said:
“The Academy of Medical Sciences believes that association to Horizon Europe is the best outcome for UK and European science. The ongoing delays to finalising association have created an uncertainty that has left researchers in limbo, harming their ability to carry out work that will benefit the lives of patients.
“Considering this uncertainty, it is therefore the responsible thing to also develop a credible alternative plan. Today’s announcement [20 July 2022] goes some way to addressing the short-term gap in collaboration and funding opportunities that would be left if we fail to associate, but questions remain. We are pleased to see it includes some proposals that the sector have been calling for, including the guarantee for in-flight applications as well as a range of measures to support both talent and international collaboration.
“The government has committed to funding these alternative measures from some of the £6.9 billion that was set aside for association. In the longer-term, they must recommit to using the entirety of this promised money for research, to avoid undermining the UK’s science superpower ambitions.
“Today’s announcement is a first step, but we will need more information on how the overall package will fit together, the scale of investment across all elements of the package, and how these transitional measures will lead into any long-term Horizon Europe alternative.
“International collaborations are essential for research, and what is good for research is good for the health of people everywhere. It is positive to see a commitment to the UK participating in Horizon Europe as a Third Country. This provides a way of protecting the precious international networks that are vital for research, however the UK government must not add additional bureaucracy if we are to remain an attractive research partner.
“As an independent organisation, the Academy of Medical Sciences has considered it our responsibility to work alongside other UK National Academies and UK Research and Innovation to ensure these proposals support the health research sector to deliver good health for everyone. That is why, if these measures are required, we aim to increase the number of awards we are able to offer through our innovative grant schemes, including our Springboard awards, Professorship Awards, and Clinician Scientist Fellowships. We will also continue to work collaboratively to support the development of the long-term talent offer and flagship Fellowships.
“Until the door is well and truly closed, we will keep pushing for association to Horizon Europe. We urge the Government to continue to do all that it can to achieve association, whilst preparing to implement the measures outlined today and providing the detail that will be required to guarantee their success.”
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Professor Dame Anne Johnson PMedSci spoke on the Today Programme on Friday 22 July, at 1 hour 50 minutes.