New Zealand joins Horizon Europe Research and Innovation Programme

New Zealand has joined the Horizon Europe Research and Innovation Programme, giving Kiwi researchers access to Europe's largest science collaboration platform.

Prime Minister Chris Hipkins and Minister of Research, Science and Innovation Ayesha Verrall announced the deal on Monday morning at the same time it was confirmed Aotearoa had also signed a ground-breaking free trade deal with the European Union after years of negotiations. 

The Prime Minister and EU President Ursula von der Leyen witnessed New Zealand and the European Union signing the Horizon Europe Association agreement in Brussels overnight.

The agreement gives access for New Zealand researchers to Europe's largest science collaboration platform and creates opportunities for New Zealand's interests and expertise to be demonstrated on the world stage, Hipkins said.

"New Zealand scientists contribute massively not only at home but internationally. This will widen the scope and allow them to work more closely with their European counterparts on some of our most pressing problems such as climate change and energy," Hipkins said. 

"Association is the closest form of cooperation with the Horizon Europe research programme available to non-EU countries. It gives our scientists the opportunity to lead major research programmes in areas of global significance."

New Zealand has associated to Pillar Two of Horizon Europe, which has funding of €53.5 billion (approximately NZ$90 billion) over the 2021 to 2027 period. Pillar Two focuses on global challenges like climate change, energy, health and the United Nation's Sustainable Development Goals, Hipkins said. 

"Our researchers already work with European counterparts regularly, but association to Horizon Europe allows them to join and lead projects on equal terms," Verrall said.

"Kiwi scientists have considerable research strengths in Horizon Europe priority areas. This will give them greater opportunity to build international networks and provide expertise on projects that will benefit both New Zealanders and the rest of the world."

The deal sees New Zealand become one of the first non-European countries to associate with Horizon Europe.

"We share many values and interests with the EU, so it makes sense that we are finding ways to work more closely together on research, science and innovation as well," Hipkins said.

President Ursula von der Leyen said she was glad the EU was allowing New Zealand to participate in Horizon Europe.

"This is the first association agreement with a country that is not geographically close to Europe, but very close in so many other ways, including the capacity and willingness to innovate," von der Leyen said. 

"We are looking forward to pooling our best minds and talents to work together on the next generation of clean tech, biotech and digital projects."