Britain’s biggest experiment: the prospects for scientific collaboration post Brexit

July 27, 2016 8:30 - 9:45 am

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The economic and political implications of the UK’s EU referendum on 23 June are still emerging and will continue to do so for some time. But even if we narrow the focus to scientific collaboration, is the future any clearer?

During the pre-referendum campaign, much attention was paid to the UK’s financial contribution to the EU budget: overall it has been a net contributor but, in terms of EU funding for research, development and innovation activities, it has been a net beneficiary - to the tune of some €4.4 billion between 2007 and 2013. However, these activities have not been the isolated efforts of scientists or research groups in single member states; the funding has supported an enormously diverse and rich array of collaborative activities. The real value of this collaboration, to those involved and to the wider European economy and society, cannot be captured by such simplistic inputoutput metrics.

Although much scientific collaboration – even within Europe - takes place outside the EU framework, depending on political decisions taken over the coming months, UK researchers, particularly those in its universities, face uncertainty over their future access to an enormous source of research funding whilst their erstwhile European research colleagues face similar concerns over the future prospects for collaboration. This panel will consider the prospects of scientific collaboration in Europe, and the potential implications of ‘Brexit’ for university researchers, businesses and for European society more widely.

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