Imaging research gets boost from U.K. rejoining Horizon Europe

By Philip Ward, staff writer

September 7, 2023 -- Medical imaging and AI research received a substantial boost on 7 September, when the European Commission (EC) and the U.K. reached an agreement on the U.K.'s participation in Horizon Europe, the European Union's (EU) research and innovation program. Senior radiologists have already welcomed the news.

This deal will benefit both parties, according to a press statement issued by the EC. "It will allow the EU and U.K. to deepen their relationship in research, innovation and space, bringing together research and space communities."

As of 1 January 2024, U.K. researchers will be able to participate in Horizon Europe on a par with their EU counterparts and will have access to the scheme's funding. The U.K. will contribute almost 2.6 billion euros per year on average for its participation in both Horizon Europe and the Copernicus component of the Space program, the EC stated.

Prof. Andrea Rockall
Prof. Andrea Rockall.

"It is fantastic news," Prof. Andrea Rockall, clinical chair of radiology at Imperial College London and first vice president of the European Society of Radiology, told "This will have a major impact for the future of U.K. and EU innovation and science. Collaboration with our European colleagues is crucial to the U.K.'s health sciences, including radiology."

Imperial has actively campaigned on this issue, she added. "The announcement today allows scientists to develop and continue collaborations with our European partners on the pressing issues of our day, including AI and our impact on the environment."

The deal will provide certainty with applications, the number of which have dropped in recent years, Rockall noted. "As co-applicant, I have recently been part of a successful consortium bid on digital twins, the ARTEMIS project, and we can now have confidence that our U.K. work package will go forward successfully. We can plan future work and build our teams once again."

Prof. Fiona Gilbert, head of radiology at Cambridge University and past president of the European Society of Breast Imaging, also reacted positively to the agreement.

Prof. Fiona Gilbert
Prof. Fiona Gilbert. Courtesy of European Society of Breast Imaging.

"This is tremendous news," she told "Our department has a number of EU-funded projects. Fortunately these have been protected by Innovate UK, the government funding scheme which has been fantastic in supporting us continuing to participate as a partner in EU-funded projects until negotiations were completed."

There is now clarity that the U.K. can continue to be a partner in the projects which are so important in science and healthcare, she said.

According to Prof. Vicky Goh, professor and chair of cancer imaging and head of the Cancer Imaging Department at King's College London,"It is excellent news that UK will rejoin the EU Horizon for the remainder of the programme. It would potentially allow U.K. imaging researchers to apply for funding in the next round of calls and be able to be part of collaborative applications related to new technology."

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