International collaboration is integral to achieving our mission to make the UK a science and technology superpower. In the government’s research and development people and culture strategy it cites the ability to attract, develop and retain talent researchers and innovators as vital to building on existing strengths and meeting future global challenges.
UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) enables a diverse range of international partnerships: from building collaborations on the ground and facilitating opportunities between individual researchers and businesses in different countries and regions, up to major global infrastructure programmes.
We want to build durable collaborations and partner responsibly to safeguard our researchers and innovators. We promote awareness of the principles of trusted research and innovation to achieve this and to protect UK and partner interests.
Our international strategic framework sets out how UKRI delivers international activity and our ambitions for delivering an outstanding research and innovation system that enriches lives at a local, national and global scale.
Researchers and businesses can access funding for global collaborations through UKRI and its partners worldwide. We also work with partner countries to support research and innovation collaborations around the world.
Deepening partnerships through UKRI offices
In Brussels, our UK Research Office (UKRO) provides subscribing UK research organisations with news, insight and advice to help them engage with EU-funded research.
Powering world-leading research infrastructures and facilities
We have renowned research facilities in the Gambia, Uganda, Antarctica and Svalbard in the Arctic Circle that attract collaborators worldwide. These are internationally competitive, high-quality and accessible infrastructures and facilities that attract collaborators worldwide and allow us to work together and tackle the world’s most complex challenges.
Working with global funders and networks
UKRI is an active member of several organisations that bring together the world’s major research funders.
Global Research Council
The Global Research Council (GRC) is a virtual organisation, comprised of the heads of funding agencies from around the world. It is dedicated to promote the sharing of data and best practices for high-quality collaboration among funding agencies worldwide. GRC provides a route for UKRI to influence the international science policy landscape, strengthen and build relationships and partnerships with our counterparts in other countries.
Science Europe is an association of European research funding organisations and research performing organisations based in Brussels. It promotes the collective interests of these organisations, and advocates and shapes science policy and funding. A major role of Science Europe is to respond and feed into EU policy developments.
OECD Global Science Forum
The overall objective of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Global Science Forum is to support countries to improve their science policies and share in the benefits of international collaboration. The OECD GSF covers policy issues related to basic and applied research in natural, social and human sciences and its interests range from research systems, infrastructures and funding to open science, research culture and science advice.
Science and Innovation Network
We also work closely with the UK’s Science and Innovation Network (SIN), which builds partnerships and collaborations in science and innovation through its 145 officers in 40 countries, and with:
- the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology
- the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office
- the Department for Business and Trade
- the British Council
SIN provides UKRI with valuable insights into the research and innovation landscape in these countries, and helps to promote UKRI’s collaborative opportunities overseas.
Supporting participation in Horizon Europe
UKRI supports researchers and innovators to participate in Horizon Europe, the EU research and innovation framework programme. We provide advice and guidance to help them meet partners, form consortia and navigate the application process.
The UK agreed a deal to associate to Horizon Europe on 7 September 2023. UK researchers can now apply for Horizon Europe funding, certain that all successful UK applicants will be covered through the UK’s association (or through the guarantee) for the remainder of the programme.
All calls in Work Programme 2024 will be covered by association, and the UK guarantee scheme will be extended to cover all calls under Work Programme 2023.
Contributing to international development
UKRI is a major and long-standing funder of research and innovation for development. We are committed to the principle that research and innovation conducted through equitable partnerships has an essential role in tackling global challenges and improving the lives of the poorest and most vulnerable.
Through the International Science Partnerships Fund, UKRI administers a portion of the UK’s official development assistance (ODA). This enables researchers and innovators to apply their work to some of the world’s most urgent development challenges.
We report ODA spending through the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) registry.
Removing barriers with collaborative agreements
UKRI makes it simpler for UK and international researchers and businesses to work together on research and innovation. We remove barriers, such as the risk that a joint project will be approved in one country but not another, by partnering with major research organisations and networks worldwide.
The agreements we have with research funders in countries such as the US, Luxembourg, Norway and Brazil make it possible for researchers to submit joint funding proposals.
Last updated: 18 September 2023