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Digital Science Response to UK Referendum Result to Leave the European Union

24th June 2016
 | Katy Alexander

Consensus & Unity:

Almost every major university city voted to remain as part of the EU and understandably, there is major concern amongst its number today. The voting pattern showed a strong consensus from the national academic community  that membership of the European Union brings both collaborative and financial benefits to the UK research base.

Collaboration is King:

Our recent report showed that research carried out in collaboration with international partners has considerably more impact than that carried out by a single country and highlights the rapid growth of EU and global collaboration, from less than 10% to more than half of all academic research. Today, the majority of our international collaborative partners in research are in other EU member states and this is the fastest growing part of the research base. Collaborative research also has a far greater impact than other research activity. The EU, although not perfect has been a driver for collaboration.

Research Funding – What Next?

Funded projects will remain in place and many have a time-line beyond the two year Brexit schedule, once that is triggered. These are funded commitments that take us as much as five and ten years down a path while new arrangements are being agreed.

As our data has shown and has been widely publicised in recent weeks, the UK risks losing EU research funding to the tune of £1 billion per year.  Currently, a quarter of all public funding for research* in the UK comes from the European Union.  In 2015, the amount of new grant funding awarded to the UK was £967 million.

Dr Daniel Hook, Managing Director of Digital Science and author of, ‘Examining Implications of Brexit for the UK Research Base’

“Digital Science now calls upon the government to commit to maintaining the current funding level at the very least,  in order to protect the UK’s research base, so that we don’t become the poor cousin of Europe.  Further, we believe that the government should target resources specifically to safeguard the UK’s ability to collaborate internationally with funding structured and targeted towards support of the UK as a collaborative hub on a global stage.

To ensure that UK research does not falter and to prevent uncertainty as to whether the UK continues to be a good place to do research, we need as soon as possible a very firm commitment, from the Treasury and BIS, that funding for research, collaboration, training, and mobility will be sustained by a redirection into the science budget of the money previously flowing through Brussels.  That commitment should be bi-partisan and is needed now, not in two years’, because research is not a volatile market. It absolutely needs those planning horizons and we absolutely need to keep our regional and global links.”

Dr Jonathan Adams, Chief Scientist at Digital Science and author of ‘Benefits and Implications of EU and Global Collaboration by UK Universities’

“Knowledge is generated by international teams, and international collaboration is the only way to be part of this. We call on the government to augment the science budget with resources to sustain productive engagement with European programmes and partners with a package of clear well-defined funding to ensure our researchers can sustain links with our European colleagues, travel and work abroad to gain vital experience and continue to develop new partnerships.”

Join the conversation at #BrexitScience and #ScienceIsGlobal