InnoScot Health believes Scotland must take advantage of Horizon funding for innovation success


CONFIRMATION of renewed UK participation in the £80bn Horizon Europe research, development, and innovation programme is exciting news says InnoScot Health – but Scotland must be alive to its vast opportunities. 

UK participation in the flagship RDI funding programme 2024 – launched in 2021 – will formally commence from 1 January 2024 with some commentators already suggesting that it may discourage Scottish entrepreneurialism if the funding predominantly goes to large organisations south of the border. 

However, InnoScot Health Project Manager Paula Sweeten believes its benefits, officially sealed by the UK this week, can and will be equitably distributed if our country is ready and willing to take advantage. 

She said: “Scotland offers so much innovation expertise for the health benefits of both its own population and that of the wider world. 

“Yet, our country’s excellence and infrastructure can be enhanced further with the right support, and Horizon Europe is unparalleled in that regard. From its previous iteration, Horizon 2020, Scotland secured over €850 million for the nation’s innovation economy. That alone speaks volumes for what Horizon Europe can truly mean to us. 

“There is simply no other programme like it and there is so much to be gained from this exciting news – not just economically, but in tackling significant health, social, and environmental challenges. Among its stated aims are improving cancer care through prevention, cure, and seeking ways to improve quality, and span, of life, as well as supporting 100 climate-neutral and smart cities by 2030.  

“Horizon is set to leave a legacy of better healthcare outcomes led by innovation.” 

The UK will contribute around £2.2bn a year to both Horizon and the Copernicus space programmes in exchange for the opportunity to access grants and participate in international collaborations.  

It will not have to pay into the scheme for the two years it was frozen out and will be compensated if significantly less money is granted to the UK than what it puts into the programme. 

Any Scottish organisation can apply for Horizon Europe funding as long as it has the operational and financial capacity to carry out the tasks it proposes. 

Paula continued: “Horizon can also widen Scotland’s collaborative network which is exactly what we need at this time of recovery, renewal, and transformation for a more sustainable, resilient, innovation-driven healthcare future. 

“It is now up to Scotland’s forward-thinkers to ensure that it doesn’t just benefit a select group of individuals and institutions. This is not the time for complacency or missed opportunities – it is time for the opening up of fresh partnerships, for investment in the NHS, industry, and academia, and for extending Scotland’s international reach.” 

The scheme runs until 2027 and is open to all types of organisations across Europe and the world. Scottish Enterprise says it will be working with partners to facilitate Horizon Europe information events next year. 

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