What now for EU research in the UK? #Brexit #H2020

As a British man living in Brussels, I thought I wouldn’t be writing this post. I am definitely shocked that the UK would take this decision.

For me it seemed that both campaigns didn’t understand the value that being part of Europe brings to the UK. A big part of that value for me was the excellent research and innovation that has been funded with EU research money.

In framework programme 7 the UK was second only to Germany in winning proposals, but so far in Horizon 2020 the UK  was in the lead. I think that lead will now be lost and we might move further down the table, thats if we even remain involved in Horizon 2020.

So what happens now and in the future?

For now, nothing, the UK hasn’t yet started the negotiations through Article 50, so any projects  that are already funded or will be awarded funding will still get the money.

There is no doubt that the UK science and research community will still want to access the EU research programmes now and in the future. This means buying back into the programme much as countries like Israel currently does.

But we don’t yet know what the political make up of the UK government will be. Immigration was a big factor in the decision to leave, if the new government is forced to limit EU immigration then who knows what the impact on the research programme will be?

When Switzerland limited mass migration they were suspended from Horizon 2020, the Swiss government then had to implement a national programme to replace the access to the EU. It then went on to negotiate limited access to Horizon 2020, losing the ability to coordinate programmes and access to the SME instrument. On top of all this Switzerland has no say in the development of the research programme and has to accept all funding decisions made in Brussels.

Switzerland still has to make a contribution to Horizon 2020 based on the size of its economy. If the UK were to restrict free movement it would probably restrictions similar if not worse than imposed on Switzerland, and will have to pay handsomely for the privilege.

This also doesn’t take into account the impact of uncertainty that potential UK applicants will have. With the success rate already low, why would you risk an application knowing that funding may be taken away from you or not awarded?

For now, all we can say is this is a dark day for the UK’s science and research sector. Many people will be feeling unsure about their jobs and unsure about their future. The leave campaign didn’t have a plan for the economy after a Brexit, and they definitely don’t have a plan for research.

I’ll be interested to hear your comments and thoughts below?

What next for UK research?


6 thoughts on “What now for EU research in the UK? #Brexit #H2020

  1. Gary,
    The points you raised were raised many time by the scientists for Europe campaign, and by the universities themselves. I have been living outside the UK for 40 years now mainly in Belgium, working in Industry and in and with the Commission on programmes and projects. Visiting the UK on a regular basis, I have seen the slow but steady rise of anti-intellectualism, and told many of my associates last year when the referendum was announced that Brexit was highly likely.
    It will have an immediate effect I’m afraid on 2020, as although new proposals will continue to be evaluated impartially, the evaluators will have questions at the back of their minds. New project proposal teams will be concerned about including UK partners in case it jeopardises their bid.
    To be honest the damage was already started when the referendum was announced,
    I am sure the UK will continue to participate stay or go, but with less or much less success in the past, especially in the SME sector.

  2. International research existed far before the UE existed. I live in Switzerland and took part in an Horizon2020 project who’s aim was to analyse and suggest improvement for the next round of the AlpClusters programme. So this is not true we cannot ‘influence’ the way Europe is doing research. At the time of our vote about migration, it was more like a political retorsion, a need to ‘punish’ Switzerland for that vote rather than a true necessity. Like they did with Erasmus, a real shame because Erasmus existed long before UE. And furthermore, you tell that UK will no more have access to H2020.. but who is paying for that research if not the countries themselves? UK will still have the financial means to take part in these projects, as they do nowadays. The real good point of H2020 is that it makes interdisciplinary researchers from many countries work together. But it has never been proven that the quality of the outputs is higher than for ‘local’ or ‘national’ ‘classical’ research with international teams as well but working at the same location. And there is a big waste of resources spent for remote coordination and the fact that it’s more difficult to work efficiently for teams spread all around Europe. Not saying that these projects are mostly short-term and rarely sustainable – some have some follow-up projects – because of the energy and time the teams would need to continue to work together. ESA is a very good example of how to foster both research and industry in a proper and efficient way on european level. So don’t be afraid, international research won’t stop and the UK will still be part of it.

    1. You are wrong, the UK was putting in much less than what it was getting out, something like 5 to 8 ratio. Of course, EU has to punish leaving, otherwise is like belonging to a club where you get all the privileges but you don’t pay the membership fee and cherry pick whatever you like.

  3. PAY as you go for UK research, it will be harder for some, but H2020 work is for show. Funding is hit and miss, groups can’t build KTNs based on H2020 funding. UK health science needs to look to NIH in any case, Europe is not going lead on Epigenetics? What evidence do we have for that?

  4. For what its worth, I think the Exit campaign was a fraud, based on knowingly false information. It will not deliver the reduction in immigration people thought they were voting for. The campaign was solely to promote individual politicians and a particular right wing Trump-style philosophy. In the past such insurrection which damaged the Nation State so badly would have resulted in imprisonments and executions – a bit OTT – but no reason for politicians who didn’t agree with the campaign to feel obliged to implement its insane conclusion. However, no one is listening, all we have is power games in both parties…

    1. Elites have disconnected from the interest of the bulk of the population. If we look at the health data for ageing and healthy living this has been a very long term process. The OECD and World Bank have warned on the issue for years. With the exception of the populists who use the Parliament as a platform, the EU attracts a very systematic form of elite, and have very little to direct them to focus on the common good. I very clearly understand why some health experts in the Parliaments get so frustrated with both sides. my own story is called Life style 6.0: http://www.healthtechevent.com/health-tech-event/keith-baker-philips-presents-lifestyle-6-0/

      Personally I see the worse case in the refined food industries. where I have work with them on health issues, such as a EIT KIC, next to the KIC digital and health. This is a specific corporate elite that is actually poisoning the population, but the EU won’t work on any measures to reduce the problems of the poor, i.e. labeling, breast feeding, sugar reduction, better education on fats, suitable exercise etc. I find it hard to defend some part of the EU. However, I will continue to work with EC DG connect and EIP-AHA as I see digital media as a pivotal technology, and some specific aspects of epigenetics related to women health as critical to health innovation.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *