New UK package offers lifeline to Ukrainian researchers and entrepreneurs

  • Quadrupling of funding for the ‘Researchers at Risk’ program will help Ukraine’s best and brightest scientists and other researchers continue their work in the UK

  • UK universities and institutions have turned out in droves to support their Ukrainian counterparts, backed by UK government initiatives and funding

  • The science and technology sector will be a crucial part of helping to sustain and rebuild Ukraine’s economy while increasing partnerships which also create jobs in the UK

The Prime Minister announced a series of measures to support Ukraine’s science and technology and research sectors, as part of wider UK efforts to strengthen Ukraine’s economy and security in the face of to the brutality of Russia.

Prior to Russia’s large-scale invasion, Ukraine was a regional science and technology powerhouse. The technology sector accounted for 4% of the country’s GDP, and Ukraine had around 5,000 IT companies and 285,000 IT specialists.

Science and technology have already played a role in bolstering Ukraine’s war effort like never before. International crypto donations to companies like Uber and AirBnB using their platforms to help those forced to flee violence.

The sector will also be vital to Ukraine’s resilience and long-term recovery. It will be a platform on which Ukraine will bounce back – creating jobs, attracting investment and developing next-generation technologies. As a scientific superpower, the UK is home to some of the most important tech companies in the world. There is enormous potential for world-leading British companies to partner with Ukrainian companies, creating and maintaining jobs and investment in our two countries for generations to come.

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

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:

The Ukrainian people had to sacrifice so much at the hands of Putin’s barbarity. But I remain fully committed to securing a future in which, together, Ukraine and the UK prosper.

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

Science and technology will be decisive in ensuring Putin’s failure in Ukraine, and they will be crucial in rebuilding the Ukrainian economy. The UK will be with our Ukrainian friends every step of the way.

And to Russian scientists and researchers who view Putin’s violence with dismay and who no longer feel safe in Russia: please apply to come to the UK and work in a country that values ​​openness, freedom and the pursuit of knowledge.

More than 130 Ukrainian scholars will be brought and supported in the UK under the Researchers at Risk program launched in March. £3m was initially allocated to the program and a further £9.8m announced today will allow it to expand significantly to meet demand.

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

Serhii Shkarlet, Ukrainian Minister of Science and Education, said:

We greatly appreciate the UK Government’s decision to extend the At-Risk Researcher Bursary Scheme, which has already received £3 million in support.

Thanks to UK support, Ukrainian scientists 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 greatly enhance 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 Cormack Consultancy Group twinning program 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 joined the scheme, including the University of Edinburgh which has partnered with Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv and Wrexham Glyndwr University which has twinned with the National Polytechnic University of Kyiv. Chernihiv – extending the existing relationship between the two cities.

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

Another 61 Ukrainian universities are seeking to partner with UK institutions and the program is attracting international interest in Ireland, the US, Canada and across Europe.

Vivienne Stern MBE, Director of Universities UK International said:

We are delighted that the Government is throwing its weight behind this extraordinary scheme, through which 79 UK universities have partnered with Ukrainian universities to help them continue to operate, helping them to teach remotely, housing their staff and students on campuses British, providing library access and equipment, and supporting continued Ukrainian research activity.

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

Finally, to help Ukrainian science and technology entrepreneurs who have been temporarily forced to relocate their operations by the Russian invasion, the Department of International Trade will redouble its efforts in Ukraine under its Global Program for Entrepreneurs (GEP). The scheme aims to provide temporary relocation, mentorship and links to UK industry to entrepreneurs relocating to the UK. 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 scholarship scheme, which was expanded today, UK Research and Innovation is prioritizing applications for Global Talent visa approval 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 recover from Putin’s war. This includes supporting the proposal to organize a “Re.Build” conference. The conference, organized by the Founders Forum, will help ensure that the most innovative tech companies from the UK and around the world contribute to Ukraine’s recovery effort in the most effective way.

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