Treasury decision to guarantee research funds is to be welcomed

1 min read

The UK government’s decision to guarantee billions of pounds of government investment after Brexit for projects currently funded by the EU, including science grants, is to be welcomed.

Universities and researchers will now have funds guaranteed for research bids made directly to the European commission, even when projects continue post-Brexit and include bids to the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme which is worth €80bn for European science and innovation.

The news should be hugely reassuring to European partners in consortia bidding for European commission funding that have a UK partner - many UK scientists have revealed that they have been asked to leave existing collaborations, while others have been excluded from new bids.

This new pledge brings some urgently needed stability to business and universities during the transition period as the UK exits the EU and, hopefully, will encourage European researchers to continue their collaborations with UK colleagues.

Chancellor Philip Hammond’s funding commitment is designed to give the economy a boost in what is expected to be a challenging period for the UK economy, while at the same time recognising the need to reassure both industry and the science and research communities that funding will be maintained post-Brexit.

Reports suggest that Hammond hopes that this guarantee will help to raise levels of activity over the coming months, giving industry and science a 'shot in the arm'. British scientists currently receive around £1bn annually from the EU.

While this move is welcomed many businesses and universities have warned that EU programmes have benefits the go well beyond simply funding – including greater mobility for researchers and scientists as well as boosting international collaboration, so the government still has much to do in addressing the uncertainty faced by EU researchers currently working in the UK and by students considering applying to British universities - fees and financial support arrangements will need to be put in place.

Amid the uncertainty created by Brexit this is certainly good news, but what happens beyond 2020?

There’s only so much you can do with that weekly saving of £350million ‘claimed’ by the Brexiteers.