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30 years of effective UK engagement in EU research

The UK Research Office (UKRO) will mark 30 years of effective UK engagement in EU research at a high-level reception event in Brussels today. UKRO is the European office of the UK Research Councils and during the last three decades UKRO has worked closely with them to support engagement in EU activities.

UKRO also supports the UK research community by offering advice and guidance to research managers, administrators and European Liaison Officers from over 130 subscribing institutions, principally UK universities and research institutes.

The reception will provide an opportunity to reflect on the huge impact of UK engagement in EU research and innovation and includes keynote speeches from: Shan Morgan, UK's Deputy Permanent Representative to the EU; Professor Sir John O’Reilly, Director General, Knowledge and Innovation, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills; Professor Anne Glover, Chief Scientific Advisor to the President of the European Commission; and Steve Visscher, Deputy Chief Executive, Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC).

Senior officials and policy-makers from across the European Institutions and major Brussels-based stakeholder organisations will attend the event to celebrate the impact of UK Research Council engagement in Europe over the past 30 years and the role that UKRO has played in facilitating this.

Participation in EU programmes and Research Council partnerships benefit the UK scientifically and also play an important part in realising the European Research Area.

A new publication, ‘Engaging in Europe’, showcasing the UK’s contribution to research within Europe through leadership and collaboration over the past 30 years will be distributed to at the event.

BBSRC acts as managing partner of UKRO and Steve Visscher, BBSRC Deputy Chief Executive, said: “Since the Research Councils established UKRO in 1984, it has become the UK’s leading information and advice service on European Union research funding. The EU produces around a third of the world’s research outputs and its research programmes provide important sources of funding for many UK institutions. It is vital that the UK fosters productive alliances for mutual achievement to ensure that we stay at the forefront of research efforts. Over 30 years, UKRO has played a vital role in maximising impact from exciting opportunities with Europe.”

UKRO is also holding a special edition of its Annual Conference to mark the anniversary on 26-27 June 2014 at the ‘At Bristol’ conference venue. The conference offers European liaison officers, research managers, Research Councils and policy makers a forum for networking with key speakers from the European Institutions on a range of EU research, innovation and higher education policies and funding opportunities. Registration for this two-day event is expected to open in March.

Christina Miller, UKRO Director, said: ““UKRO enjoys an excellent reputation in Brussels as a disseminator of advice and information and a leading facilitator of dialogue between the UK research community and the EU institutions. It’s highly rewarding and motivating for UKRO’s team members, both past and present, to have played a part in the UK’s successful engagement with EU research and innovation programmes. We look forward to continuing to work closely with all our stakeholders in the UK and Brussels to achieve even greater success in the years ahead.”

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Further information

Rob Dawson
Head of News, BBSRC
Tel: 01793 413 204 or email: Rob Dawson

Notes to editors

  1. UKRO’s mission is to promote effective UK engagement in EU research, innovation and higher education activities, by:

    • Enabling the UK research community to make informed decisions about participation in EU programmes and to maximise the opportunities available to them;
    • Supporting UK input into European research policy development and implementation through informing and interfacing with the appropriate bodies; and
    • Developing and maintaining a suite of quality services that meet the evolving needs of sponsors and subscribers.

    The Office operates on a membership basis, receiving subscriptions from universities and other research organisations principally in the UK.

    The UKRO Board, chaired by BBSRC, has representatives from all seven individual Research Councils, Research Councils UK (RCUK) and elected subscriber representatives.

    UKRO is contracted by BIS to deliver the National Contact Point (NCP) helpdesks for the European Research Council (ERC) since its establishment in 2007 and the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (formally FP Mobility Actions) since 2001. UKRO’s role in supporting ERC and Marie Curie is significant both through its subscriber services and NCP helpdesk In terms of research income, the ERC saw the highest level of UK success, with funding of around €1,425.4M allocated to UK participants through this programme alone, while the Marie Curie actions accounted for around €945M. This means that around 39% of the UK's FP7 (The Seventh Framework Programme of the European Union) income comes from these two programmes.

    UKRO also supports the work of the EURAXESS UK network and is funded by the British Council to publish European RTD Insight; a free monthly publication that provides an overview of the latest on EU research policy and programmes:

    UKRO was established by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) in 1984 at the beginning of the first EU research Framework Programme, to provide a direct point of liaison with the EU institutions and to provide insight, information and guidance on EU policies and programmes. Other Councils soon joined, creating a joint Research Councils’ European Office. This was the first such national research liaison office in Brussels. The Office then developed on a stakeholder basis, with Research Councils providing core sponsorship (all seven Councils now sponsor it) and receiving subscriptions from over 130 universities/research organisations: 

  2. Research Councils UK (RCUK) is the strategic partnership of the UK's seven Research Councils who annually invest around £3 billion in research. We support excellent research, as judged by peer review, that has an impact on the growth, prosperity and wellbeing of the UK. To maintain the UK’s global research position we offer a diverse range of funding opportunities, foster international collaborations and provide access to the best facilities and infrastructure around the world. We also support the training and career development of researchers and work with them to inspire young people and engage the wider public with research. To maximise the impact of research on economic growth and societal wellbeing we work in partnership with other research funders including the Technology Strategy Board, the UK Higher Education funding bodies, business, government, and charitable organisations.

    The seven UK Research Councils are:

    • Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC);
    • Biotechnology & Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC);
    • Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC);
    • Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC);
    • Medical Research Council (MRC);
    • Natural Environment Research Council (NERC);
    • Science & Technology Facilities Council (STFC).

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