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Conclusion of the Horizon Europe association negotioations


Korea becomes the first Asian country
to conclude the negotiations for its association to
the world’s largest multilateral
research and innovation funding program

MSIT announces successful conclusion of association negotiations for Horizon Europe, the EU’s R&I program

Efforts underway to enable Korean researchers to participate in Horizon Europe calls with an Associated Country status starting in 2025

Korea seeks to diversify its network of partners and ways of cooperation

The Ministry of Science and ICT (Minister Lee Jong-Ho, MSIT) announced that it has concluded the negotiations for association of Korea to the Horizon Europe*, the EU’s largest multilateral research and innovation funding program, on March 25.
* The EU has been implementing European Framework Programs for Research and Innovation (FPs) implemented since 1984. The FPs serve as the EU’s main funding instrument for R&I, integrating the functions such as R&D project selection and evaluation, call management, and supplying of research funding into a single structure to avoid investment overlaps among member states and foster innovation within the European R&D landscape. Horizon Europe is the EU’s 9th multiannual framework program for research and innovation which runs from 2021 to 2027.

Minister Lee Jong-Ho of Science and ICT met with Iliana Ivanova, EU Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth of Directorate General for Research and Innovation of the European Commission on March 25. They announced the conclusion of the negotiations for Korea’s association to Horizon Europe and agreed to proceed with relevant domestic procedures on both sides for the signing of the association agreement.

Horizon Europe is the EU’s and the world’s largest multilateral research and innovation funding program for 2021-2027 with a budget of €95.5 billion. Whereas the EU’s previous framework programs only allowed EU Member States and overseas countries and territories (OCTs) linked to Member States to participate, with Horizon Europe, the EU proposed joining the program as an Associated Country to six non-EU third countries* that fulfilled their criteria, such as a good capacity in science, technology, and innovation, commitment to a rules-based open market economy, including fair and equitable dealing with intellectual property rights. Given that necessary procedures proceed smoothly without delay, Korea will become an Associated Country to the Horizon Europe program starting in 2025, making Korea the first Asian country and the third of six countries to join Horizon Europe, following New Zealand (2023) and Canada (2024).
* Korea, New Zealand, Canada, Australia, Japan, Singapore, and New Zealand

Korea will participate as Associated Country in only Pillar II of Horizon Europe, which conducts joint research to tackle global challenges and strengthen industrial competitiveness. Korea’s financial contributions as an Associated Country will be used to directly fund Korean researchers through Horizon Europe.

There are four key benefits that Korea can anticipate upon becoming an Associated Country of Horizon Europe.

First, Korea's multilateral science and technology research cooperation network will be significantly expanded. As the world's largest multilateral program dedicated to research and innovation, Horizon Europe offers Korea an opportunity to engage in a multilateral research and innovation program encompassing all fields of science and technology for the first time.

Second, research cooperation with EU countries and researchers in EU will be further strengthened. Under Korea’s current status as a non-associated third country, Korean researchers cannot directly participate in Horizon Europe calls, instead only participate as “Partners” of researchers from other member states or associated countries, and must bring their own funding for their research as Horizon Europe budget is not allocated to them. When Korea associates to Horizon Europe, Korean researchers will be able to apply for funding to carry out a Horizon Europe project as a “Coordinator” or “Participant,” on equal terms with researchers of EU countries, and it will become possible to receive research funding directly from the Horizon Europe budget without having to go through a separate domestic evaluation process. This will lay a robust foundation for joint research with EU researchers that possess excellent scientific and technological capabilities through Horizon Europe research calls.

Third, the association will enable Korea to gain insight into the EU's advanced R&D planning, selection, and evaluation system. The EU has maintained an integrated research and innovation program since 1984, aimed at mitigating duplicate investments among member states and achieving innovation in the European R&D landscape. By joining Horizon Europe, it is expected that Korea can learn valuable know-how accumulated over the years in operating such a system.

Fourth, it offers an opportunity to expand the openness of Korea's national innovation system. While Korea boasts exemplary science and technology innovation capabilities*, international cooperation remains a comparatively weak aspect. Given the imperative to transition from a domestically reliant innovation system to an open one that proactively leverages technological resources worldwide, becoming an Associated Country of Horizon Europe is expected to serve as a pivotal catalyst to facilitate this transformation.
* Composite Science and Technology Innovation Index (COSTII): 7th in 2018 to 5th in 2022; International Cooperation Index: 26th in 2018 to 34th in 2022 (Source: National Science and Technology Innovation Capability Assessment 2022 by Korea Institute of Science & Technology Evaluation and Planning (KISTEP))

Following the country’s association to Horizon Europe, the Korean government will strive to facilitate the participation of Korean researchers in Horizon Europe. This includes including expanding support for collaborative research planning with EU researchers prior to project calls.

The Minister of Science and ICT Lee Jong-Ho said, “Participating as an associated country in Horizon Europe, the world’s largest multilateral research and innovation program, will open up greater opportunities for both Korea and the EU to enhance research competitiveness through joint research.” He added, “We are committed to complete the process leading up to the signing of the association agreement by the end of this year, so that Korean researchers can start participating in Horizon Europe with an associated country status starting from 2025.”

For further information, please contact the Public Relations Division (Phone: +82-44-202-4034, E-mail: of the Ministry of Science and ICT.

Please refer to the attached PDF. 

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