by Thierry Salus, on the 31st August 2018
EU grants, today and tomorrow
In 2016/2017, the UK received over £5 billion overall from the EU. These funds were used to develop infrastructures, to support farming but also to fund R&D projects of private companies.
Indeed, the European Union has set up a number of funding instruments to support innovation. Among these are Horizon 2020 (see our post here about the latest call) and Eureka Eurostars (see here). It has also, through the European Structural and Investment Funds, supported a number of Local Enterprise Partnerships; Cumbria, the Leeds City region or Derby & Derbyshire have LEPs, for example.
Unfortunately, the UK will probably lose access to these funds when the country leaves the EU on March 29th 2019.
Funding secured until late 2020
The companies applying for European fundings today are not at risk. UK and EU negotiators agreed in December 2017 that UK companies will be able to apply for grants until the end of the programme in late 2020. Furthermore, payments of grants will go on until each project’s completion, even after the end of the said programme. This means that you can securely apply for Horizon 2020 grant in January 2019 for a project starting in April 2019 and finishing in March 2021.
The Joint Report actually states:
“Following withdrawal from the Union the UK will continue to participate in the Union programmes financed by the MFF 2014-2020 until their closure (excluding participation in financial operations which give rise to a contingent liability for which the UK is not liable as from the date of withdrawal). Entities located in the UK will be entitled to participate in such programmes. Participation in Union programmes will require the UK and UK beneficiaries to respect all relevant Union legal provisions including co-financing. Accordingly, the eligibility to apply to participate in Union programmes and Union funding for UK participants and projects will be unaffected by the UK’s withdrawal from the Union for the entire lifetime of such projects.”
Moreover, Exchequer has committed to stepping in. HMG will make for the loss of EU money for companies involved in programmes that extend from 29 March to the completion of the Horizon 2020 instrument.
But after that? Well, no one really knows.
One possibility is that UK companies could go on applying for EU grants: should the UK choose the Norway model, it would become a member of the European Free Trade Association, hence keeping access to all funding instruments.
In the event of a no-deal scenario, British companies could apply for some grants as a third country participant. Unfortunately, this does not cover the SME instrument which has so far brought €140m of investment to British companies.
Some UK alternatives to EU grants do exist:
- Innovate UK offers R&D grants under specific conditions. See here for our presentation of the second round of 2018;
- the British Business Bank can provide start-up loans and support to find private funding.
Yet one question remains: will these alternatives reinforced to make up for the loss of European funds?
One sure thing, though: now is the time!
It is indeed the right moment to apply for European funds before the opportunity passes. The United Kingdom is historically a leading competitor for Horizon 2020 funds (see below). UK companies historically have a high success rate, the fourth among EU nations for SME Instrument. However, since the referendum, less and less British companies apply for EU grants, even though their success rate is still very high!
Grant writing is one of DRIAD’s speciality.
Counting our CEO in the panel of EU reviewers gives us an unmatched knowledge of the EU’s expectations.
So why don’t you get in touch with us? We can help you get one of these grants.