New UK package offers a lifeline to Ukrainian researchers and entrepreneurs

  • Quadrupling of funding to ‘Researchers at Risk’ scheme will help best and brightest Ukrainian scientists & other researchers to continue their work in the UK

  • UK universities and institutions have come forward in droves to support their Ukrainian counterparts, backed by UK Government initiatives and funding

  • Science & technology sector will be a crucial component of helping sustain and rebuild the Ukrainian economy while increasing partnerships which also create jobs in the UK

The Prime Minister has announced a series of measures to support Ukraine’s Science & Technology and research sectors, as part of the UK’s wider efforts to bolster Ukraine’s economy and security in the face of Russia’s brutality.

Before Russia’s full-scale invasion, Ukraine was a regional Science & Technology powerhouse. The technology sector accounted for 4% of the country’s GDP and Ukraine was home to around 5,000 IT companies and 285,000 IT specialists.

Science and Technology has already played a role in boosting Ukraine’s war effort unlike any ever seen before. From international crypto donations to companies like Uber and AirBnB using their platforms to help to those forced to flee violence.

The sector will also be vital to Ukraine’s long-term resilience and recovery. It will be a platform on which Ukraine rebounds – providing jobs, attracting investment and developing next-generation technology. As a science superpower, the UK hosts some of the world’s most important technology companies. There is huge scope for world-leading UK companies to partner with Ukrainian ones – creating and sustaining jobs and investment in both our countries for generations to come.

The package of measures announced by the Prime Minister today (Tuesday 28th June) will give Ukraine’s best scientists and tech entrepreneurs the help they need to rebuild their country. They will be enhanced and supported by the leadership and generosity of UK organisations, many of which have already offered extensive assistance to their Ukrainian counterparts.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:

The people of Ukraine have had to sacrifice so much at the hands of Putin’s barbarism. But I remain utterly dedicated to ensuring a future in which, together, the Ukraine and the UK thrive.

People across the UK have opened their hearts and their homes to support those fleeing violence in Ukraine, and our world-leading universities, research institutions and tech businesses are no different.

Science and technology will be decisive in ensuring Putin fails in Ukraine, and it will be crucial as we rebuild the Ukrainian economy. The UK will be with our Ukrainian friends every step of the way.

And to the Russian scientists and researchers who are looking upon Putin’s violence in dismay, and who no longer feel safe in Russia: you should feel free to apply to come to the UK and work in a country that values openness, freedom and the pursuit of knowledge.

More than 130 Ukrainian academics will be brought to, and supported in, the UK under the ‘Researchers at Risk’ programme which launched in March. £3 million was initially allocated to the programme and a further £9.8 million announced today will allow it to expand significantly to meet demand.

The Researchers at Risk scheme enables Ukrainian academics to continue their research at UK institutions, whether they are fleeing the conflict or already in the UK and unable to return home. The Fellowships provide a salary, research and living costs for up to two years for these researchers, helping Ukraine to preserve its research ecosystem. They can then return to Ukraine to help rebuild the country and ensure it prospers.

Serhii Shkarlet, Ukrainian Minister for Science and Education said:

We appreciate greatly the decision of the UK Government to expand the Researchers at Risk Fellowship Programme, which has already received a £3 million aid package.

Thanks to the support of the United Kingdom, Ukrainian scientists who were forced to flee abroad due to Russian aggression will be able to continue their research and share their experience with foreign colleagues. Equally important is the support of Ukrainian universities, which thanks to the new UK twinning programme will be able to cooperate with leading universities in the UK.

I believe that such collaboration will strengthen significantly the cooperation between our countries in the field of education and science.

The UK Government will also provide funding to support the Universities UK International and the Cormack Consultancy Group twinning programme between UK and Ukrainian academic institutions. The project aims to establish more than 100 long-term, sustainable partnerships to support Ukrainian institutions, students and researchers during the current conflict and beyond.

79 UK universities have already signed up to the scheme, including the University of Edinburgh which has linked up with Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv and Wrexham Glyndwr University which has twinned with Chernihiv Polytechnic National University – extending the existing relationship between the two towns.

The nature of the support universities will provide is tailored to the needs of Ukrainian institutions. The University of Liverpool, for example, is providing access to extensive online learning materials across a range of subjects, as well as electronic library access and free places on summer schools.

A further 61 Ukrainian universities are looking to partner with UK institutions and there is international interest in the scheme in Ireland, the USA, Canada and across Europe.

Vivienne Stern MBE, Director of Universities UK International said:

We are delighted that the government is putting its weight behind this extraordinary scheme, through which 79 UK universities have paired up with Ukrainian universities to help them to continue to operate, helping them teach remotely, hosting their staff and students on UK campuses, providing library access and equipment, and supporting the continuation of Ukrainian research activity.

These are significant and long-term commitments, and the solidarity shown between universities in the UK and Ukraine has been remarkable and inspiring to witness.

Finally, to help those Ukrainian Science & Tech business leaders who have been temporarily forced to move operations by the Russian invasion, the Department for International Trade will increase efforts in Ukraine under its Global Entrepreneur Programme (GEP). The programme aims to offer temporary relocation, mentorship and connections with UK industry to entrepreneurs who relocate to the UK. The GEP supports entrepreneurs in Ukraine from its hub in Poland.

Since Putin launched his full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the UK Government has announced a number of measures, alongside the S&T sector, to support Ukrainian researchers and entrepreneurs.

In addition to the Researchers at Risk Fellowship Programme, which has been expanded today, UK Research and Innovation is prioritising Global Talent visa endorsement applications from Ukrainian national researchers, technologists, and other specialists.

The UK Government is working closely with the UK tech industry to support efforts to help Ukraine rebuild and rebound from Putin’s war. This includes supporting the proposal to hold a ‘Re.Build’ conference. The conference, organised by the Founders Forum, will help ensure the most innovative technology companies in the UK and around the world contribute to the Ukrainian recovery effort in the most effective way.

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