The United Kingdom’s science and technology sector is braced for change following the country’s recent vote in favour of Brexit. Just as for big business, it was an unwelcome outcome for the scientific community, since UK based researchers collaborate with their peers across the EU in large numbers, not only at a cognitive level, but also in having access to world-leading shared research facilities.
In addition, there is concern that a brain drain out of the UK will now hit science, with those remaining in the UK anxious that their ongoing involvement in international collaborations is now at risk. On the regulatory front, there is already talk of the European Medicines Agency (EMA), at present based in London, moving to mainland Europe.
The principal worry, unsurprisingly, relates to financial provision, with the EU currently responsible for a large slice of research funding through various grant programs and fellowships. To be precise, 18.3% of EU funds returning to this country go towards funding research and development, according to the Lords Science and Technology Committee, though it is also the case that universities, rather than businesses have principally benefitted from this arrangement. It is small wonder then, that UK universities are now lobbying hard to secure opportunities for students, staff and researchers to continue to be able to access pan-European programmes and utilise domestic facilities.