Return to Horizon: Spotlighting the importance of collaboration and innovation for the UK

Earlier this month, the government announced that the UK is set to re-join the EU’s Horizon research programme – news that was met with enthusiastic support, and an element of relief, from academic institutions and science groups across the UK

Return to Horizon

The €95 billion research funding programme is the world’s largest innovation and research scheme. The decision to re-join will not only give UK scientists access to a major source of funding, but will also crucially re-open opportunities for international collaboration and ensure that the UK remains at the forefront of cutting-edge research.  

Since our departure from the scheme in 2020, the UK has lost a significant amount of its appeal as a destination for scientific research, with UK scientists being prohibited from leading on flagship Horizon projects. The move to re-join the scheme signals a renewed commitment to scientific excellence and leadership – and is no doubt a pivotal moment for the UK and our position on the global stage at large.

At the IASP World Conference in Luxembourg last month, I was reminded of the power and importance of global connectivity. The convening event – which saw science, technology and innovation parks from around the world gather to discuss strategies to address global megatrends – reinforced how highly anticipated and vital our reengagement with the Horizon scheme is if we are to tackle the complex global challenges confronting us. 

At the conference, experts and practitioners came together to impart ideas on various issues and opportunities, presenting their learnings for others to draw from. It was inspiring to see this focus on shared success, and underscored to all of us the vital role that strong international partnerships will play in the path ahead.

We have already seen the value of convening global voices this year, as leaders have assembled to consider AI regulation and the blueprint for success. It has quickly become clear that global collaboration is crucial if we are to harness the positive potential of innovation, not only ensuring the responsible and prudent use of new technologies, but moreover safeguarding the UK’s position and inclusion on the global stage.

For UK academic and research institutions, being part of the  Horizon scheme is a particularly exciting and fruitful venture. The funding provided by the scheme will serve as a catalyst for innovation, enabling companies to develop trailblazing technologies, create high-value jobs, and in turn future-proof the UK economy. Significantly, the programme also encourages and paves the way for interdisciplinary and transnational research – a central factor in solving global issues such as climate change, healthcare, and technological uncertainty. In the science and innovation sectors, the cross-fertilisation of ideas is therefore paramount in accelerating progress and enabling success on an international scale.

At Here East, our innovation and technology campus in East London, we have witnessed first-hand the benefits and transformative power of a collaborative environment. With a vibrant community of over 6,000 people onsite – working across technology, academic, and creative sectors – we have created an ecosystem for innovation on a micro level with reach further afield at the macro level, and consequently have been able to put the power of cross-sector collaboration  and connectivity to the test. 

Indeed,  a survey conducted by Oxford Economics confirmed that at least half of the tenants at Here East enjoyed increased employment as a result of working with others on campus, while every business surveyed cited outcomes of knowledge sharing and upskilling. By bringing together diverse talents and resources, businesses have grown their employee base, increased their revenues, and expanded their offerings.

As our hub in East London has  demonstrated on a smaller scale, collaboration plays a pivotal role in breeding innovation and collective success; it drives job creation and economic growth, facilitates pioneering progress, and encourages the cultivation of a thriving and interconnected community. It is brilliant to see the UK recognising at a national and international level, and I am certain that our return to Horizon Europe will reinstate the UK’s  standing as a global leader in science and innovation.

Gavin Poole
Gavin Poole

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