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Korea joins Horizon as first associate in Asia

Korea has been confirmed as the first Asian country to associate to the European Union's flagship research and innovation program, Horizon Europe.
March 25 2024
3 Min Read

Korea has been confirmed as associated country to the European Union’s flagship research and innovation program, Horizon Europe.

The East Asian country is one of the first nation outside of Europe to gain associated status to the initiative. New Zealand joined last year, with Canada, Australia and Japan all looking to join the €95.5 billion program.

“I am happy to welcome Korea into the Horizon family,” said the EU’s commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, Iliana Ivanova.

“This is a milestone for our cooperation and great news for global science and innovation. Together, we will be able to tackle global challenges more effectively.”

Korean minister for Science and Information and Communication Technology Lee Jong Ho said association with 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”.

“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,” he added.

The signing of the association country agreement is expected in the second half of 2024, pending the completion of all necessary ratification procedures on both sides.

Under the agreement, Korean researchers will be able to apply for funding under Horizon Pillar II, which is the largest collaborative part of the program focusing on shared global challenges: climate, energy, digital economy, and health, with a budget of €53.5bn.

Traditionally, the EU offered this cooperation to countries in its geographic proximity but it has introduced opportunities for “like-minded countries” with strong science, innovation and technology profiles to join as associated members.

Within the Horizon Europe strategic plan 2025-27, released on March 20, the EU described 32 expected impacts and identified the New European Bauhaus Facility, nine new European research partnerships and the EU Missions.

The missions aim to support the implementation of policies and promote large-scale mobilisation, “leading to a quicker and wider deployment of new approaches and technologies”.

“This is a milestone for our cooperation and great news for global science and innovation”

The document also outlined Horizon Europe’s approach to international cooperation, “highlighting the importance of openness while ensuring research security”.

Association is the “strongest form of international cooperation”, the strategy said, adding that key global allies will “strengthen alliances in the face of the ever-harsher geopolitical situation”.

R&I cooperation beyond the EU will also help deliver the bloc’s external policy objectives.

Current actions include initiatives in Africa, across the Mediterranean, Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as activities to support the Ukrainian R&I ecosystem and joint research activities to support the implementation of the EU-India Trade and Technology Council.

“The pandemic and the global geopolitical situation have highlighted the interdependence between R&I ecosystems, countries, and regions in the areas of global health, critical materials and supply chains,” the report said.

“Moreover, addressing health, climate change, biodiversity loss, pollution and other environmental challenges, and protection of cultural heritage requires identifying and implementing solutions at global level, where international cooperation is essential.”

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