The UK has signed an agreement to rejoin the European Union’s £80 billion Horizon research and development programme.

It has also agreed to rejoin Copernicus, the Earth observation component of the EU’s space programme.

The government says the deal is set to create and support thousands of new jobs as part of the next generation of research talent. Negotiated over the last six months, it has been heralded as a landmark moment for scientists, researchers and businesses.

The UK joins EU countries as well as Norway, Israel and others, with Canada set to join soon.

“Being part of Horizon and Copernicus is a colossal win for the UK’s science, research and business communities, as well as for economic growth and job creation – all part of the long-term decisions the UK government is taking to secure a brighter future,” said Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology Michelle Donelan.

“The UK led a quarter of the work we were involved in through Horizon’s predecessor, so we know from recent history the importance of the UK’s skills and expertise in making this programme work, and it is vital that we seize this moment.

“Now it is essential that we bring our science, research and business communities together with their EU and global partners to deliver the benefits from our bespoke Horizon and Copernicus deal, from our share of the 300,000 new jobs Horizon aims to create, to the untold advances it will unlock for our health, the environment and more.”

Could Iceland become sustainable digital backbone of Europe?

Iliana Ivanova, European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, said: “I am happy to welcome the UK back to the Horizon family. This is a real milestone, a clear win-win for both sides and for global scientific progress. 

“Together, we can push further and faster. I have made association of non-EU countries to Horizon Europe my personal priority, and we are delivering.”

Vivienne Stern MBE, chief executive of Universities UK, said: “This is a momentous day. I am beyond delighted that the UK and EU have finally signed the agreement confirming the UK’s association to Horizon. This is a win-win. 

“The UK scientific community has a huge contribution to make to the generation of new knowledge as an associated country, and also stands to benefit from the opportunity to work seamlessly with researchers all over the world, in the EU and beyond it.

“All of society benefits when researchers can work together to solve the big challenges we all face, whether that is rare disease, or climate change or a host of other important topics. I warmly congratulate the government and the Commission on reaching this agreement. Now we’re ready to shoot out of the gate and make the most of the opportunities participation in Horizon offers.”

Researchers, academics and businesses of all sizes can now bid for a share of the more than £80bn available through the two programmes, with calls for the 2024 Work Programme already open.

Danish takeover is Endless Gain for eCommerce consultancy