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At least 115 UK researchers to lose their ERC grants


Nineteen researchers are leaving UK to keep their European Research Council funding

At least 115 UK-based researchers are losing or giving up their prestigious grants from the European Research Council, now that the deadline has passed for their decision to keep grants by leaving the UK.

“The preparation of 115 ERC grants offered to UK based researchers will be terminated now that the 29 June deadline has passed,” the ERC told Research Professional News.

The researchers won the grants over the past year or so, but could not sign the contracts because the EU has prevented the UK from formally associating to its Horizon Europe R&D programme, under which the ERC sits.

Their grants will now go to researchers on the ERC’s reserve list.

The ERC said that the grants of 19 UK-based researchers will be transferred to a host institution in the EU or Associated Countries after the researchers decided to move.

It said 12 cases out of nearly 150 UK-based winners are yet to be resolved.

The researchers who have now lost their ERC funding are in principle eligible for replacement UK funding guaranteed by the government.

But the agency in charge of administering this money, UK Research and Innovation, has said it is too early to provide data on the number of researchers it will support or the amount of money it will provide to them.

A UKRI spokesperson later added: “All those who apply for Horizon Europe guarantee funding and are eligible will receive the full value they are entitled to.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial strategy said: “The government has guaranteed funding for eligible, successful applicants to Horizon Europe who are expected to sign grant agreements by December 2022 and who have been unable to sign grant agreements with the EU.

“While the EU’s delays to formalising the UK’s association to Horizon have led to uncertainty for researchers, successful awardees do not need to leave the UK to receive this funding.

“The guarantee means that eligible, successful applicants will receive the full value of their funding at their UK host institution for the lifetime of their grant.”

UPDATE 01/07 – Added comments from UKRI and BEIS.