UK risks dropping out of 'Champions League' of science after Brexit

PUBLISHED: 15:31 03 June 2019

The UK has received £1 billion in EU scientific research funding. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

The UK has received £1 billion in EU scientific research funding. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

AlexRaths

Scientists have warned that Brexit risks the UK dropping out of the running for a 100 billion euro fund that puts researchers into the 'Champions League' of science.

Researchers at the Francis Crick Institute, a biomedical research institute in London, have urged ministers to negotiate access to the next phase of the EU's massive Horizon funding programme.

The current phase, Horizon 2020, provides around £1 billion for UK research each year.

Sir Paul Nurse, director of the Francis Crick Institute, said that winning this funding "is like being in the Champions League, while a domestic alternative is more like the FA Cup or Community Shield".

He added: "For UK science to remain strong after Brexit, we need to continue working closely with our European partners.

"If we try to go it alone, we risk falling behind.

"European-wide programmes raise standards and are a significant mark of quality.

"Our scientists have sent a clear message that they want to keep competing in the big European leagues."

Sixteen non-member states previously negotiated full access to Horizon 2020 as "associated countries", but the next phase - Horizon Europe - is still being developed.

READ: Widdecombe slammed for suggesting science will 'produce an answer' to being gay

The call comes as the government considers establishing "credible and ambitious" alternative schemes to support international collaboration.

Dr Sharon Tooze, a Francis Crick Institute scientist, said: "European grants are unparalleled in their support of discovery science, taking a long-term view to help lay the foundations for the medicines of the future.

"Any one country would struggle to come up with something that's as coveted and well-respected by researchers worldwide. The fierce competition for ERC grants undoubtedly boosts research output across Europe."

The Brexit contingency planning for several NHS trusts, revealed via Freedom of Information requests, showed concerns for

Concerns for medical science research funding and collaboration with Europe were earlier revealed in the Brexit contingency planning of several NHS trusts, released via Freedom of Information requests.

READ: Revealed: the 'terrifying' NHS Brexit planning the government doesn't want you to see

As well as worries about being unable to get the generous research funding the UK previously accessed, NHS chiefs also pointed out that a no-deal Brexit would exclude the UK from 24 European Reference Networks, which share expertise, facilities and datasets on rare diseases.

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