A total of 22 UK scientists have now decided to leave the UK rather than lose their EU research funding as uncertainty remains about the future of research and development (R&D) support post-Brexit.
Scientists and engineers have told Sky News that the UK’s position as the world’s research leader is at risk of a “massive brain drain” amid doubts over what will replace funding following talks with the UK government. European Union stagnant.
The UK is in talks to remain in the EU’s £84bn Horizon Europe funding scheme.
However, Brussels refuses to resume talks unless otherwise specified Brexit– Relevant disagreements such as Northern Ireland solved.
If unsuccessful, the government has pledged to match EU funding that has been awarded to any researcher who has been awarded funding.
But that commitment is not enough for some researchers, as many existing research programmes are EU-wide.
“No one told me I had to leave, but it was not a welcoming environment,” said Moritz Trick, who leads a team studying malaria at the Francis Crick Institute in London.
“I don’t want to take on this research funding or the unsafe conditions of staying in the UK and the impact on all the people I employ.”
Treeck, from Germany, said the opportunities offered by working in the UK scientific community were “huge”. But things look different now.
“Say you want to build an economy, you want to be an international superpower, and then look inward…I think that’s a step back, not a step forward,” he said.
Researchers with no intention of leaving the UK say the standoff over Horizon funding has also affected the UK’s long-term leadership role in international collaboration.
Professor Carsten Welsch is Head of the Department of Physics at the University of Liverpool, where he is responsible for developing new particle accelerators to replace projects such as the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Geneva.
He recently had to hand over part of his Horizon-funded project to collaborators in Italy because the UK institution could no longer take on a leadership role in the programme.
He fears it will undermine the UK’s standing in other larger collaborative projects – such as particle accelerators.
“If you’re not taking a leadership role in that multi-million pound or euro project, how likely are you to take the same leadership role in that much bigger international project?” he said.
Julia King, Baroness of Cambridge, chair of the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee, believes the longer the uncertainty persists, the greater the risk.
In a worst-case scenario, she said: “I think we’re going to see our brightest brain drain overseas. I think we’re going to see more of our best tech-based companies find it easier to get funding to scale overseas. Listed on the stock market in the US rather than the UK.
“It won’t have an immediate impact on the UK economy, but in the medium to long term it will have a significant impact,” she said.
In a statement, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said: “The UK government’s preferences remain relevant to EU planning, but we cannot wait any longer for the EU.
“Successful winners do not need to leave the UK – Horizon Europe guarantees means that eligible successful applicants will be fully funded at their UK host institution.”
under Boris Johnson The government has pledged to double UK research funding to 24% of GDP by 2025.
However, some experts fear the prime minister Liz Truss‘Spending plans could lead to funding cuts to cover shortfalls in the EU.
James Willsden, who studies policy research at the University of Sheffield, said: “If they look at spending cuts, the £6bn earmarked to replace Horizon Europe certainly looks fragile.”