2019 and the Grant Funding Landscape

The major source of R&D grants for technology companies are Innovate UK and European Commission’s Horizon 2020 programme So, what happens to these funding opportunities in 2019?

The first key point is that budgets have already been allocated in both cases; the programmes will continue.

As a national programme, Innovate will continue; although future years may be affected by the decisions around Brexit.  If the economy booms after leaving the European Union, the programme might well expand, while a reduction in economic activity might cause Government to restrict R&D funding from the public purse.  There are 14 current Innovate UK calls open covering aspects of Biomedicine, Aerospace, Automotive, Plastic waste and Data management, with a combined budget of approximately £45 million.

Horizon 2020 grants remain open to British companies until March 29th and up to that date the UK has full rights as a member of the European Union.  Further, the Government has guaranteed to fund UK participants who submit bids pre-Brexit until the completion of their projects; which in some cases could be as late as 2023.

There are strong moves to insure that the UK remains involved in Horizon 2020 and its successor Horizon Europe, but these links are subject to the agreement of an acceptable withdrawal deal.  Currently, while “no deal” is a distinct risk, City analysts believe the more likely outcomes are, either a late stage deal or a postponement of the Brexit date.

In the postponement case the UK retains the rights and responsibilities of a full member of the EU and as such UK companies can participate fully in the Horizon 2020 programme, until a departure date is agreed.  With a “deal” the UK has indicated it would seek to remain involved in Horizon 2020, possibly in a similar way to Norway or Switzerland which are “associate states”, with full access to the programme.

Horizon 2020 has calls open or opening in 2019 covering Biomedical, Food, Energy, Agriculture, Health, Information & Communications Technology, Material, Space and Transport research and development.  On a rough calculation Green technology & Transport have a 2019 budget of 600 million euro, Environment 390 million euro and Space 210 million euro.  Further the Future & Emerging technology (FET) budget is around 500 million euro, while the SME mechanism is supported with approximately 800 million euro.

The UK has a track record of exceptional success in European R&D programmes. In the period 2007 and 2013, the UK contributed €5.4 billion to EU R&D funding, but was a net beneficiary receiving €8.8 billion in grants. The UK has strong reasons to remain part of the Horizon programme now and in the future.

The funding landscape continues to look attractive for companies involved in R&D.  Navigation may prove more difficult this year, but with appropriate support and advice, the goal is eminently achievable.