Canada Set to Join Horizon Europe Research Program in New Collaboration with EU
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After negotiations concluded at the EU-Canada summit held in St. John’s, Newfoundland on November 24th, an agreement was reached allowing Canadian researchers to participate in the Horizon Europe research program starting next year. This deal, part of an expanded trade cooperation package encompassing various sectors such as research, energy, digital technology, aerospace, among others, paves the way for increased transatlantic collaboration.

The agreement signals Canada's official entry into Horizon Europe, a move hailed by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as a significant opportunity for engagement with "the greatest research and innovation mechanism in the world." Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, echoed this sentiment, envisioning joint projects yielding innovative breakthroughs and transformative discoveries as a result of closer collaboration between researchers from both sides of the Atlantic.

While details of the agreement were not extensively disclosed due to pending administrative resolutions, von der Leyen mentioned an expected signing before mid-next year. However, EU officials indicated a possible interim arrangement enabling Canadian grant applications to commence in 2024, although disbursement would await formal signing.

Once the agreement is finalized, Canadian researchers, academic institutions, and corporate R&D labs will gain access to Horizon Europe's Pillar II. This segment of the €95.5 billion research and innovation program focuses on funding large collaborative projects addressing global challenges in climate, energy, digital economy, and health, with a substantial budget of €53.5 billion. Initially, Canada's involvement in this program is projected to be relatively modest, with early estimates suggesting a funding allocation of around C$50 million (€33.6 million) in the initial years.

Canada's previous engagement with EU programs underlines its limited participation due to its status as a "third country." Over the Horizon 2020 and Horizon Europe programs, Canadian researchers were involved in various capacities but received relatively modest funding compared to their participation levels. However, with the impending change in status as an "associated" member, Canadian researchers will have broader opportunities to engage and receive funding for their work within Horizon Europe's collaborative projects.

In addition to research, the agreement also opens avenues for collaboration in other domains such as digital technology, climate policy, environmental sustainability, and clean aviation. The EU-Canada digital partnership will facilitate cooperation in areas like artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, quantum technologies, and combating online misinformation.

Overall, this association with Horizon Europe marks a significant milestone in Canada-EU scientific collaboration, emphasizing the mutual commitment to advancing research and innovation on both sides of the Atlantic. The deal also aligns with the EU's broader efforts to strengthen international research partnerships, fostering shared progress in scientific advancements and technological innovations.