Brexit uncertainty is harming science as funding applications drop and talent shuns UK

PUBLISHED: 11:59 16 October 2019 | UPDATED: 12:01 16 October 2019

The Royal Society has warned that the UK's scientific research is being harmed by Brexit uncertainty. Picture: Brian Lawless/PA Archive/PA Images

The Royal Society has warned that the UK's scientific research is being harmed by Brexit uncertainty. Picture: Brian Lawless/PA Archive/PA Images

PA Archive/PA Images

The UK's scientific research is being hurt by Brexit uncertainty as our share of EU research funding drops by half a billion euros and one third fewer scientists choosing to come to the UK.

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A report from the Royal Society warns of the "clear impact" that Brexit uncertainty is having on the UK's scientific funding and ability to attract international talent.

Their figures show that the UK's annual share of EU research funding has fallen by half a billion euros since 2015, and there has been a nearly 40% drop in UK applications to the EU's 80 billion euro Horizon 2020 research scheme.

In addition, 35% fewer scientists are coming to the UK through key fellowship 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."

He added: "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."

Marie Sklodowska Curie (MSCA) Individual Fellowships are set up to increase international mobility in science, encouraging top international talent to relocate to an overseas institution.

The Royal Society said that the UK "has traditionally performed head and shoulders above all other EU nations" in attracting individuals via this programme.

However since the referendum, this has seen a 35% dent, says the Royal Society analysis.

In 2015, 515 individuals took up MSCA fellowships in UK institutions, but in 2018 this had fallen to 336.

The Royal Society noted that the UK's applications to the Horizon 2020 scheme - the world's largest - still have a high success rate, but the number of applications is falling.

In 2015 the UK secured 16% of the total Horizon 2020 grants, worth 1.49 billion euros, but by 2018, this figure had fallen to just over 11%, or 1.06 billion euros.

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