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At the time of writing (April 2022), the UK has not yet associated to Horizon Europe, however it remains the priority of UKRI, ERC, and Commission colleagues to conclude the association.

In the meantime, the UK government has announced a new scheme that guarantees funding for successful applicants to the first and second wave of Horizon Europe grant awards regardless of the outcome of the UK’s efforts to associate to Horizon Europe. The guidance for was updated on 14th March 2022 and includes a comprehensive list of the Horizon Europe programmes and calls that are eligible.

Here are some Question and Answers to help you.

 

 

Q. 1 - I am a Horizon Europe award holder (not-ERC or MSCA) and have received a letter from the EC, what should I do?

The letter from the European Commission (often via project coordinators) gives you two choices:

“Change of status of the participant from beneficiary to associated partner”

“Withdrawal of the legal entity from participation in the proposal”

Award holders have two months from the date of issue of the letters (8th April) to make a decision. In most cases, the Research Office would recommend changing to associated partner status. Please read the Q&A below.

Q. 2 - Should we continue to apply for Horizon Europe Funding?

Yes. UK institutions are still eligible. The current situation does not affect your ability to apply and has no bearing on the evaluation of applications. Please make sure that in the submission stage of your proposal you are included as partner/beneficiary to the project, not an Associated Partner. Conversion to Associated Partner status will be an option at the Grant Agreement preparation process once the application is successful.

 More details from the EC can be found here. UK Institutions can also still apply to lead EC consortia but, until the UK fully associates to the Horizon Europe Programme, it is imperative you consider potential alternatives to ensure the continued eligibility of the project should it be successful and the UK has not associated by the time the award is announced. Also, you should consider including this issue in your proposal’s risk management strategy.

If you would like more information on this, please contact the Research Development Team for your School.

Q. 3 - I am being told by the lead partner of the consortium that the UK Partners need to be removed from the project as a result of the UK’s lack of association. What can I do?

Please contact the EU and International Team and we will help you navigate this with your Consortium Leader. There are some options available but the most appropriate one is often that UK institutions are being moved to Associated Partner status on successful collaborative grants.

 

As long as the scheme you have been awarded under is listed as one of those covered under the underwrite, it will be possible to reassure the Lead that UKRI (UK Research and Innovation) will underwrite the UK partners’ funding that they would have received from the Commission. Once on UKRI funding, it is our understanding that UK partners will remain on that funding for the duration of the project, regardless of when UK association takes place.

 

Q. 4 - Why do I need to change to Associated Partner status?

As the UK has not yet accociated to Horizon Europe, entities based within the UK cannot be beneficiaries to EU grant funding. However, Horizon Europe funding allows entities to be based in third countries (which the UK is until it associates to Horizon Europe) to fully take part in Horizon projects – in most instances this is as an ‘Associated Partner’. Associated Partners in third countries must fund the entities within them – UKRI is doing that through its underwriting scheme.

 Please liaise with EU & International team before taking any action to switch your status into Associated Partner.

Q. 5 - Should I accept Associate Partner status as quickly as possible to guarantee my UKRI funding?

Not necessarily. While we do not advise delaying unreasonably the transition to associate partner status (and we are mindful that some coordinators are placing extreme pressure on some partners to change very early), once a UK partner is funded through the UKRI underwrite, it will remain on that funding for the entire duration of the project. This means that, should the UK associate to Horizon Europe after a UK entity has accepted associate partner status, but before the project has begun, it will still have to stay on that funding stream regardless of the UK’s new status. However, should there be any developments concerning joining back to the consortium in the event of association during the lifetime of the project, we will update you.  

Q. 6 - Are there any disadvantages of the UKRI underwrite?

The UKRI underwrite will fund the UK entities to enable them to play a full and active part in the project with an overall funding value the same as if they were a beneficiary. 

However, there are inevitable differences and some limitations e.g the inability for associate partners to lead consortia. If you have recently been awarded an EC grant that you are coordinating, you will be required to transfer the coordinating activities to a partner based within an EU member state.

Q. 7 - How do I access funds via the UKRI underwrite?

UKRI is accepting submissions from successful Horizon Europe Awardees via the JeS and the Innovate Funding System (IFS) for the different types of EC awards. This is done on a scheme-by-scheme basis.

Once the UKRI systems become available for your specific call, the Research Office will liaise with PIs and Departments to take you through the steps required to change the project from being an EC-funded project to a UKRI-funded project. This will involve  the PI / Project Team, the Departmental Administration Staff and the Research Office and requires preparation of a submission to UKRI (via JeS or IFS), an updated X5 (to take account of the UKRI-mandated exchange rate) and liaison with your EC Project Officers (depending on the scheme).

 

Q. 8 - Is there a chance I will not get approved for UKRI funding?

Provided you submit the required documents as outlined in UKRI’s scheme-specific guidance, you have a 100% chance of receiving the funds from UKRI if your grant is part of the first or second wave schemes in the UK guarantee. A list of the schemes covered by the guarantee so far is available on the UKRI website.

Q. 9 - How will the funding from UKRI work in practice?

We are awaiting the final Terms and Conditions from UKRI, but we know these will include the UKRI terms as well as special conditions to account for European requirements.

For ERC and MSCA projects

The project will be funded solely through UKRI and there is a requirement that the award holder recognise it formally as an UKRI award. This means that the awardees will need to relinquish the right to officially call it an ERC / MSCA project. There may also be implications for portability of the awards, with UKRI-ERC awards only portable between institutions within the UK.

 

For collaborative projects

There are a few different options, depending on the project, but generally the Grant Agreement will be signed between an eligible lead institution and the other eligible institutions will become signatories to the Grant Agreement as normal. The UK institutions will most likely be assigned Associated Partner status which means they do not become a signatory to the Grant Agreement with the EC, but do continue to be recognised as part of the EC-funded Consortium. Once the Grant Agreement with the EC and the consortium is signed, the UK Partners will then submit this to UKRI in order to access their portion of the funds from UKRI. It is worth noting that UK partners will still need to sign up to any consortium agreement between the project partners as before.

Q. 10 - Will the UKRI funding be more or less flexible that EC funding?

We are awaiting final Terms and Conditions for the different schemes covered by the underwrite, however, initial indications are that the terms will closely align with UKRI terms. Some additional conditions are likely to tbe included to try and mirror the EC conditions.

UKRI have indicated there is going to be some enhanced flexibility as a result of this hybridisation, compared to standard UKRI terms, but the extent/scope of this is still to be clarified.

Q. 11 - How fast will approval happen once my project is submitted on the UKRI portal?

Timelines are not yet defined in the UKRI policies but our experiences with the first cohort of projects covered by the underwrite had a very quick turnaround for approval (1-2 weeks).

The funds should reach the institution within 60-90 days from submission and payments will be more frequent. However, as with UKRI and EC grants, Cambridge will look to activate your project as soon as possible after the funding has been agreed – this will be done in collaboration with your Post-Award team here in ROO.

Q. 12 - Why can't I see the requirements for my grant preparation on the EU portal?

For specific queries about your grant preparation, please speak to the EU and International team who can support you through the process.

Q. 13 ERC - I have recently been awarded a European Research Council (ERC) grant and have received a letter from the EC that appears to suggest I need to reject my award, what should I do next?

The European Commission have begun circulating letters (8th April 2022) to ERC awardees in which they ask award holders to decide whether to:

relinquish the offer of funding from the ERC, upon which you could then receive UKRI funding

or 

transfer the grant to an eligible institution wthin an EU member state/Associated Country

As it is lookng increasingly unlikely that the UK will associate prior to 8th June 2022, PIs should consider the options as outlined in the EC letter.

If the award holder wishes to remain in the UK it is not necessary to “give up ” the ERC award at this stage. Award holders wishing to remain in the UK will be guided by the Research Office on how to switch the project to from being an ERC-funded project to being a UKRI-Frontier Research Guarantee funded project. The award will still be portable, but only within the UK and UKRI have provided reassurance that they will honour the original ERC project, as awarded, as closely as possible, within the scope allowed by the new T&Cs.

If the award holder wishes to transfer the project to an EU Member state (or associated country), please let the EU and International Team know and we can work with the project team and the ERC project officer to work through the necessary steps to initiate the transfer. We are prioritising re-submissions to UKRI in line with the deadline schedule. The UKRI guarantee funding portal is currently open for ERC Starting Grant applicants and it is expected that during May 2022 the portal will be available for all other 

Q. 14 ERC - Will my "UKRI" ERC award be recognised as an ERC award?

This is still being worked out. The UKRI terms governing ERC awards funded through UKRI clearly state that they will need to acknowledge UKRI as the source of funding. Obviously this will apply to all ERC grants funded this way, so the sector will explore how the prestige of an ERC award can be recognised for those grants that are funded through the UKRI-Frontier Research Guarantee.

Q. 15 ERC - My ERC project proposal included funds for students – are students still eligible to be included if I continue this project as a UKRI-Frontier grant?

Students on ERC projects are an eligible cost under the UKRI underwrite. UKRI have indicated they will match the amounts costed for the EC students but that UKRI recruitment policies will apply – we are awaiting clarification on any limits to the number of international students recruited (in line with UKRI standard Training Grant Terms).  More information will be circulated on this as it becomes available.

Q. 16 ERC - If I take up the offer of the UKRI Frontier Underwrite Guarantee and I need to move institutions, can I still take my ERC project with me?

If the project is being funded by UKRI then you can transfer your project only to another institution within the UK. The previous flexibility to move ERC grants to other institutions anywhere within the EU will no longer be available to the UKRI-funded projects.

Q. 17 ERC - I have recently been awarded an ERC PoC but I have not yet received a letter informing me of this two-month deadline.

We are working to clarify this, but we believe any delay may be caused by the added complexities relating to (Proof of Concept) PoCs being closely linked to on-going (or recently ended) ERC grants - which potentially could be H2020 grants - for which we are still able to receive funds directly from the EC. We will continue to work to clarify the positions for the PoCs.

By way of reassurance – the ERC PoC schemes are included in the UKRI underwrite.

Q. 18 MSCA - I have recently been awarded a Marie Skłodowska Curie Postdoctoral Fellowship, what should I do next?

Please liaise with the EU & International Team so we can work through your options.

The MSCA scheme is included in the UKRI underwrite but the guidance/timeframes for submitting the funding request to UKRI is not yet available – it is expected in May 2022. The EC has indicated a deadline of 14th June for signature of the Grant Agreements and so this is the timeframe we are working to with regards to transferring MSCA grants to UKRI-funding

Q. 19 MSCA - Can I move my Fellowship to another institution based in the EU during Grant Agreement Preparation?

We are actively seeking clarification on this matter.

Contact the Research Operations Office European Team:

Assistant Director, EU & International
Phil Cull


Head of EU & International  
Selda Ulutas Aydogan


For ERC

ercgrants@admin.cam.ac.uk


For Marie Skłodowska-Curie Matters 

mscagrants@admin.cam.ac.uk


For EU Financial Reporting matters:

ecgrantsfinance@admin.cam.ac.uk


For other EU matters:

horizongrants@admin.cam.ac.uk


 

The University's EC PIC code: 999977172