The government has promised to underwrite any funding proposals made under the European Union Horizon 2020 framework to safeguard the UK’s cutting-edge science and technology research.
Chancellor Philip Hammond explained that the government will ensure that funding agreed by the EU will be continued when the nation eventually leaves the EU.
“Structural and investment funds projects signed before the Autumn Statement, and Horizon research funding granted before we leave the EU, will be guaranteed by the Treasury after we leave,” he said.
The government added that facilities such as Manchester’s Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre, the Carluddon Technology Park in Cornwall and the Thames Valley Science Park will be among those to benefit from the promise.
Business and energy secretary Greg Clark claimed that the funding ensures that the government’s “commitment to our world-leading science and research base remains steadfast”.
“By underwriting the significant Horizon 2020 grants we are showing the extent of our commitment, standing squarely behind our researchers and scientists as they continue working with their European partners to develop new technologies," he said.
The move was welcomed by those in the industry. Charlotte Holloway, policy director at techUK, explained that it brings some welcome assurance to those working in cutting-edge research that their investment will be maintained.
“While the tech industry will be looking for more detail, including on what will happen over the longer term, this is a step in the right direction,” she said.
“The UK’s leadership in tech is tied to the success of our world-leading universities and researchers. Horizon 2020 funding for university collaborations has been hugely significant in the UK’s tech ecosystem.”
The commitment could also reassure the nation's tech firms after a survey last week found that confidence in future growth in the UK's tech sector has waned since the vote to leave the EU.
The survey of 237 techUK members found that 93 per cent were confident of growth between 2016 and 2018 before the vote, but that the figure has since fallen to 70 per cent.
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