The UK and Switzerland are striking a deal on science collaboration as both countries continue to be blocked from a major EU scheme.

Political tensions mean the two nations have been shut out from the EU's multi-billion pound Horizon programme. There are no fresh funds as part of the UK-Swiss deal.

But Swiss ambassador to the UK Markus Leitner described it as a "political signal" to researchers to deepen existing ties and find new projects.

UK Science Minister George Freeman said: "Being a Science superpower means deepening our international relationships with leading research and development economies like Switzerland."

The agreement will focus on areas including artificial intelligence and turning academic discoveries into start-up businesses.

The UK and Switzerland have been trying to join the EU's key funding scheme for research and innovation, Horizon Europe, which has a budget of €95.5bn (£81.2bn) over the six years to 2027.

But the UK left the EU in January 2020 and membership of Horizon has been held up in a dispute about post-Brexit trading arrangements for Northern Ireland, with London accused of treaty breaches.

Switzerland has never been a member of the European Union, but has dozens of bilateral deals with Brussels instead.

Full Swiss participation of Horizon has been blocked after Switzerland rejected plans for an overarching treaty with the EU.

The EU programme brings together leading academic and industrial researchers from across member nations.