The Political Economy Review 2017

inevitable in the longer run as uncertainty evaporates, that Brexit will have a negative impact on FDI, as the UK no longer offers the structural advantages it once had being a member of the EU.



How will Brexit affect UK Research and Innovation funding, and should we care?

The average John Dulwich might be forgiven for thinking the Brexit negotiations currently underway are irrelevant, and frankly as interesting, as a trade union dispute in Papua New Guinea. However, they are anything but irrelevant, especially to those of us looking to forge a career in science. The vote to leave the EU in 2016 has thrown funding research into uncertainty and raises serious financial medium-term challenges for universities and researchers, with a direct impact on opportunities for jobs and collaboration. For those of us expecting to graduate in 2021, the landscape we find ourselves in four years from now could be very different from the one we were in prior to the Referendum. Campaigners at The Institute of Physics have highlighted four areas of concern to UK scientists: funding, people, collaborations, and regulation. So let’s put these into perspective. Research grants directly or indirectly generated as a result of our membership of the EU contributed over €7bn to UK research projects from 2007-2013. In 2014/15 £836m was paid to UK

universities alone from EU bodies, generating more than 16% of all research-grant income for UK physics departments 1 . Additionally, a further £1.024bn was generated through secondary industry, contributing £1bn to the UK GDP 2 . This investment has helped underpin our ranking of 3rd in the World Innovation Index, a renowned benchmark ranking of the world’s leading economies in innovation capabilities and results, ahead of the USA (4th), Germany (10th), Japan (16th) and China (25th) 3 . Make no bones about it: innovation is a key driver for economic growth and prosperity and the UK sorely needs both of these. But innovation requires continuous and committed investment. Since the financial crisis in 2008, funding from Research Councils UK, the umbrella body for the UK’s 7 main grant-funding agencies, has flat-lined. Access to the European Research Council has, therefore, become a vital source of funding for UK researchers, receiving over 1500 awards out of a total of nearly 7000 grants awarded by The European Research Council from 2007-2017. The ERC was established by the European Commission to support research and technological development across fields as diverse as bio-nanotechnology and clean energy. As a supra-national body it has proved itself to be a more stable collaboration than other legal and political associations, beyond national and party politics, and with funding awarded strictly on the quality of the work regardless of the winds blowing in the geo-political landscape. Although not directly linked to our

1 Paul Hardaker, Chief Executive, IOP, January 2017 2 Economic Impact of EU Research Funding to UK Universities, Viewforth Consulting, May 2016 3 WIPO Global Innovation Index 2016 PR/2016/793


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