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Supporting Scotland’s research base

Illustration of research equipment.

14 Dec 2022

The Scottish Funding Council (SFC) is delighted to announce the injection of an additional £24.6m of funding to Scotland’s universities to protect the nation’s research base and to provide stability ahead of a final decision on the UK’s association to Horizon Europe, the EU’s key funding programme for research and innovation. This announcement comes in the wake of a UK package of support announced by the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) last month.

Scotland has an outstanding reputation for world-leading research as confirmed by the recent UK-wide assessment of university research, with almost 90% of Scottish university research being judged to have outstanding or very considerable impact. This global reputation is enhanced by the collaborative nature of Scotland’s research base, with Scotland’s share of the total funding awarded to UK organisations from Horizon Europe’s predecessor programme, Horizon 2020, reaching 11.3%.

Given the ongoing delay to a decision on the UK’s association to Horizon Europe, this additional funding will enable universities to target priority issues including:

  • Developing, supporting and amplifying international collaborations and partnerships.
  • Recruiting and retaining talent, including internationally and at all career stages.
  • Promoting positive research cultures, research careers and the diversity of people involved in the research process.
  • Pursuing long-term research strategies, capacity building and strategic investment in research priorities.
  • Seeding or piloting cross-disciplinary activities within an institution and/or between institutions.
  • Supporting fundamental research and research into novel ideas that provides the foundation for later breakthroughs and impact.
  • Mitigating shortfalls in research income due to uncertainty over European Union (EU) research grants.
  • Providing overheads or additional investment that support funding from other sources.

Included within this additional funding is £5.2m to support capital investment in the physical infrastructure for research, enabling universities to invest in essential research equipment and sustain their excellent research base.

Commenting on this additional funding, Helen Cross, SFC Director of Research and Innovation, said:

“While association to Horizon Europe remains the sector’s ambition, we welcome this much-needed investment in Scotland’s research base which will help our universities sustain their outstanding reputation for world-leading research and their strong track record of working in collaboration with European partners.”

Minister for Higher Education, Further Education, Youth Employment and Training Jamie Hepburn said:

“This allocation reflects Scotland’s previous track record of success and influential position in the prestigious and highly competitive Horizon research programme.

“The package of support being provided is much needed but focus must not be lost on achieving a long-term solution. Maximising participation in Horizon Europe is the best outcome for Scotland. Full association with Horizon is the best option to achieve this.

“We continue to urge the UK Government to work together with the European Commission to limit the damage caused by Brexit. Finding a mutually beneficial solution for our research and innovation communities remains of pressing importance.”

Professor Dame Sally Mapstone, Principal of University of St Andrews and Convener of Universities Scotland:

“On behalf of universities in Scotland, I welcome this vital injection of additional funds to support research excellence across the nation. We are hopeful that agreement can be found to ensure our universities can continue to be a part of Horizon.”

The funding will be distributed through allocations calculated by formula.

See full details on allocation of the funds.