Brexit already damaging UK science, says Royal Society
17 Oct 2019
Figures released by the Royal Society indicate the damaging impact on UK science caused by the uncertainty surrounding Brexit.
The UK’s share of EU research funding has fallen by €0.5 billion since 2015, according to a report from The Royal Society, with 35% fewer scientists coming to the UK through key schemes.
Venki Ramakrishnan, President of the Royal Society, said: “We have seen a dramatic drop in the number of leading researchers who want to come to the UK. People do not want to gamble with their careers, when they have no sense of whether the UK will be willing and able to maintain its global scientific leadership.
“The potential paralysis of a no-deal Brexit and the current state of chaos are hurting UK science and that is hurting the national interest.”
Specifically, Brexit is impacting UK’s ability to attract funding through Horizon 2020, the world’s largest international R&D investment programme.
In 2015, UK secured 16% of the total 2020 grants, equating to €1.49 billion. This fell to 11%, or €1.06 billion, for last year. There has been a 39% drop in UK applications to Horizon 2020 – from 19,127 in 2015 to 11,746 in 2018.
There are also 35% fewer scientists coming to the UK through the EU’s Marie Sklodowska Curie Fellowships, which are designed specifically to increase the rate of international talent to relocate to an institution overseas.
In 2015, 515 people took up MSCA Individual Fellowships in UK institutions – a figure that fell to 336 in 2018.
The Royal Society said the UK has traditionally performed above all other EU nations in attracting individuals to the MSCA, but since the referendum in 2016 this has seen a “significant dent”.
Elsewhere in the report, the society highlights the need for a Brexit deal that keeps skilled scientists working in the UK; ensures international talent choose to come to the UK; keeps access to money and networks that help the UK to work with international scientists; and maintains regulatory alignment to allow access to new medicines and technologies.