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UK research funding pre- and post-Brexit: first observations

February 03 2017

Seven months after the United Kingdom voters expressed their will to leave the European Single Market and almost one year after the referendum was announced, we have analysed the post-Brexit effects on UK participation to the European funding scheme Horizon 2020.

The uncertainty over the future access of UK to the EU funding scheme

In the wake of Britain’s decision to leave the EU, there has been uncertainty over the future access of UK to the EU funding scheme. This situation worries the researchers in UK, as the exclusion from  EU programmes will result not only in loss of funding, but also of international mobility and collaboration opportunities[1]. Although the European commission has declared that the eligibility of UK entities will not be affected until UK officially leaves the EU[2], the fear that reviewers may penalise UK involvement has already exerted the first effects.

In July 2016, the Guardian revealed that a number of British academics had been asked to leave existing collaborations or to step down from coordinating roles in EU proposals fearing that UK may represent a financial liability [3].

Percentage of proposals granted to the UK 

We have monitored the evaluation outcomes of all Horizon 2020 proposals since 2014 and have analysed the factual data[4]. We focused on the total number of proposal granted to UK partners and differentiated between proposal in which UK acted as coordinator or just as participant. The percentage of proposals granted to UK with respect to the total number of funded projects is presented in the chart below.

UK horizon 2020 grant proposals accepted before and after brexit

*data not yet available for the whole year 2016[4]

A shift in UK partner roles

This data highlights a shift from a large presence of UK partners as project coordinators towards merely participating roles. As a matter of fact, more than 20% of the total projects funded under H2020 in 2014 and 2015 were coordinated by a UK partner, whereas this percentage has now dropped below 15%. An opposite trend can be observed for projects in which UK partners are only participating entities.

Future impact of the Brexit

However, it is still early to provide a complete picture of Brexit impact on UK success rates in H2020 programme, as part of the evaluations for proposals submitted in 2016 are not available yet. At ttopstart we are closely monitoring these developments and we will regularly publish our analyses of short and long-term effect of Brexit on EU funding trends.

Contact us for more information

If you are a UK-based researcher or SME or if you are collaborating with UK-based partners and have any questions about funding opportunities, do not hesitate to contact us.


[1] Nature: UK scientists in limbo after Brexit shock

[2] EC: Informal meeting at 27 - Brussels, 29 June 2016 - Statement

[3] The Guardian: UK scientists dropped from EU projects because of post-Brexit funding fears


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