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Brexit 'could mean £1bn cut in annual funding for UK research'

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The UK risks losing EU research funding to the tune of £1 billion per year if the public votes to leave the European Union on 23rd June, according to new research released by Digital Science. 

Currently, around a quarter of all public funding for research in the UK comes from the European Union. In 2015, the amount of new grant funding awarded to the UK was £967 million. Digital Science calls upon those advocating Brexit to commit to making up the shortfall in order to protect the UK’s research base.

According to the research, the UK has been the second highest recipient of EU research funding over the last decade, with £8,044,801,711 from 2006 to 2015, just behind Germany with £8,335,695,125. However, the UK is significantly more dependent on EU funding than Germany and other research-intensive countries, as the UK as a whole contributes just 1.63 per cent of the nation’s GDP to research (compared to 2.85 per cent for Germany).

While the exact amount of EU funding that would be lost as a result of Brexit is still unclear, Digital Science’s data shows that just seven per cent of the EU’s research funding has been awarded to non-member states in the last decade.  The research indicates that, should funding be significantly decreased, the loss of funding would be felt across the majority of the UK’s universities and research institutions, as well as a number of major companies.

Daniel Hook, managing director at Digital Science said: 'The UK’s economy is increasingly a knowledge and information economy and the UK’s research base is, in many ways, one the UK’s greatest hopes for long-term prosperity. While the UK has remained highly internationally competitive and successful and has won a large portion of EU funding, the UK has not invested at a national level to ensure that we keep up with competitors in our own right without EU assistance.

See the full report here.

'We don’t want the UK to become the “poor cousin”, unable to host collaborators or unable to travel due to lack of funding. Rather than allowing the UK to gain an even better position on the global stage by having an excess of funds to deploy, EU funds have been used to prop up and cover systemic issues with how we chose to fund research in the UK both at a governmental and corporate level. 

'Brexit, and the loss of EU funding for the UK’s research base, represents a number of severe threats to leading British success stories in the research sector, unless the UK government makes up the shortfall.'