Institute submits responses to Science and Technology Committee inquiries on Brexit
The Institute has added its voice to the UK’s scientific community by responding to the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee inquiry on ‘Leaving the EU: implications and opportunities for science and research’. By sharing our viewpoint we will contribute to clarifying the risks and opportunities of leaving the EU to the UK research community. This collective information will allow the Committee to develop a comprehensive awareness of the risks and opportunities that should feature in the Government’s work to set a new EU–UK strategy.
The Institute’s two submissions can be read here: (1) leaving the EU: effect on UK science and research, and (2) leaving the EU: risks and opportunities.
We believe that the following principles are paramount in order to protect the UK’s research capability and standing:
Safeguarding collaboration: Collaboration is vital to bring the best minds together to achieve the best research and, ultimately, greater societal impact. Innovation is one of the most important products of bringing people together to work in partnership. Failing to safeguard the mechanisms which support the exchange of expertise and skills will lead to a loss of research capability within the UK.
Ensuring free movement: Of a total of 537 Institute employees and visiting researchers, nearly a third of these are non-UK EU nationals. The Government should act immediately to define the status of non-UK EU nationals in order to prevent their loss which would be detrimental to the UK research sector. Reciprocal movement of researchers to Europe is also a common component of many researchers’ careers and restricting this would also prove detrimental to the skills set of the UK’s scientists.
Funding: A future agreement with the EU should maintain access to Horizon 2020 and future programmes. The Babraham Institute currently has 11 EU grants (FP7/H2020) worth ~£7.9m. £6.25m of this comes from ERC grants all awarded to non-UK nationals. In addition to the loss of a substantial funding to support life science research, loss of the ability to apply for EU-funds through Horizon 2020 will also result in a decrease in academic–industry collaborations and training opportunities. To keep the UK on a sound footing following our exit from the EU, the UK Government should look to increase science funding to reach the target of 3% GDP for investment into research and development.
Institute Director, Professor Michael Wakelam, said: “As an internationally-diverse research organisation, working with the best researchers from around the world and training the future generation who will carry that excellence forward is second nature to us. The UK must work to maintain access to the funding and administrative mechanisms underpinning our collaboration with European centres of excellence if the UK science base is not to suffer.”