February 26, 2021  /  blog

A little over two years ago, we published An adiEU to R&D grants? At the time, there was little visibility on the continued access to EU grants for UK companies. This is now clearer, and the good news is that the UK has decided to keep taking part in most EU funding programmes. This article will present the situation for the funding streams that directly concern high-technology start-ups and scale-ups.

European Structural and Investment funds

The ESI funds combines the European Social Fund, the Cohesion Fund, the  European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development, the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund, the Youth Employment Initiative and, of vital importance for a country which encounters such screaming regional income discrepancies, the European Regional Development Fund, which funds the Local Enterprise Partnerships. The UK received €16.42 billion (a little over £14 billion) from ESI Funds between 2014 and 2020. 

Given that the budget for these programs were voted before the UK left the EU – and that the UK keeps on participating in their budget, as per the Withdrawal Agreement – UK companies are still entitled to apply for ESI funds.

For start-ups and scale-ups, that means continued access to ERDF-funded instruments such as the Ad:Venture program or the PAPI grants in the Leeds City Region.

Horizon Europe

The successor to Horizon 2020, with a   budget of €100 billion over 6 years (about £87 billion), aims “to strengthen the EU’s scientific and technological bases and the European Research Area (ERA), to boost Europe’s innovation capacity, competitiveness and jobs (and) to deliver on citizens’ priorities and sustain our socioeconomic model and values” – Horizon Europe The Next Eu Research & Innovation Investment Programme (2021 – 2027). Resting on three pillars (i.e. Excellent Science, Global Challenges and European Industrial Competitiveness, Innovative Europe) the Program will particularly focus on the following Mission areas:

The Government has announced its intention to participate in the programme; this is good news, as UK companies tend to do well in Horizon programmes (the UK success rate to Horizon 2020 was over 15%). This means continued access to the very competitive EIC Accelerator (formerly SME Instrument phase 2).


Eureka is a collaboration between the European Commission on the one hand and the independent funding bodies of the member states (including Innovate UK) on the other. The British access to these funds was never jeopardized. 

With two calls a year (typically in February and September), Eureka-Eurostars is the largest cross-border funding programme for SMEs wishing to collaborate internationally on R&D projects. It requires the collaboration between  at least one R&D-performing SME and one other body (SMEs, universities and research centres; but only SMEs access funding) from any of the programme’s 36 participating countries. This grant has the highest success rate on the market, sitting at 20%. 

To conclude, if Brexit has ended the access of UK companies to some EU funding opportunities (COSME, ESI after 2025), they still retain access to major ones.  

If you are interested in applying for one of these opportunities, please contact us for more details.