UK to continue to participate in EU’s Horizon technology projects, thanks to Brexit deal


The new trade deal agreed on Christmas Eve 2020 means the UK will continue to be part of European Horizon projects even though it has now officially left the EU. News that has been welcomed by ITS (UK).

Transportation professionals and academics in the UK had been particularly concerned about the potential for the nation to be excluded from the EU’s Horizon scheme, which is key to research projects, following Brexit. But the new deal is keeping British expertise involved, making organisations fully eligible to participate in, and receive funding from the EU.

The head of the UK’s Intelligent Transport Society, Jennie Martin says she’s “thrilled” that the UK will continue to be part of Horizon.

Jennie Martin

“Our members have benefitted significantly by sharing research with counterparts across Europe,” says Martin. “There was significant concern among some of them that they would be locked out of future projects, so I am thrilled agreement has been reached, and appreciate the work done by UK and European negotiators to come to this pragmatic solution.”

In the previous Horizon 2020 scheme, UK experts worked with continental colleagues on a range of research activities including InterCor testing cross-border interoperability of Cooperative Intelligent Transport Services on the M2 and A2 and C-MobILE in a number of European cities including Newcastle, building C-ITS partnerships and carrying out cost-benefit analyses and developing business models to ensure C-ITS services do the right job for the end user.

Other projects include those in rail, energy, training and smart green mobility, where the eHUBS project researches solutions to speed up the adaption of shared and electric mobility services.

The agreement commits the UK contribute towards funding the Horizon Europe projects, meaning British-based researchers can bid for money alongside EU members. The UK has a team of National Contact Points whose role is to support all UK organisations seeking to participate in Horizon Europe. During Horizon 2020, the UK had a 15% success rate, compared with a Europe wide average of 12%. To date €7.1 billion has been awarded in Horizon 2020.

Phil Blythe

The Department for Transport’s chief scientific adviser Professor Phil Blythe adds, “I am delighted that the UK will associate with the EU’s Horizon Europe R&D programme. Research and innovation is an international endeavour and the Covid-19 pandemic has made this clear. The UK ITS community has a long history of collaboration with European partners and I am glad we can continue to build on this with this new agreement. Indeed, in making the case for participation in the EU programmes we provided some compelling examples of how some previous EU funded ITS-focused research and demonstration projects in the UK have

transformed transport provision and addressed local challenges, such as safety, congestion, air quality and decarbonisation, which led to a number of UK cities and their ITS partners being regarded as world leading exemplars in the field. I’d encourage ITS UK members who have not looked at the opportunities of EU R&D funding to consider these opportunities in the future.”

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International (TTi) magazine and its Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title, he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs at public agencies around the world as well as CEOs of leading multinationals and ground-breaking start-ups. Tom's earlier career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).