British researchers receive a large amount of money from the European Union

UK to lose billions in EU research funding after Brexit

Image credit: National Eye Institute

Over £2.2bn of EU funding will have to be replaced from the UK budget if the research sector is to be protected from the financial fallout of Brexit.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy revealed that £2.2bn is what the UK universities, research groups and businesses are receiving from EU’s Horizon 2020 programme in the next funding round, a sum that would be palpably missed by the institutions involved.

The UK government previously pledged to replace whatever research funding is needed to enable the UK research sector to maintain its edge.

Of the total £2.21bn in grants that the European Commission has so far announced, £1.4bn has been awarded to educational bodies such as universities, while £473m has gone to private companies.

Of the remaining money, £203m has been earmarked for research organisations, £74m for other public bodies and £34m for smaller groups.

Organisations based in London have been awarded the most money (£532m), followed by those in south-east England (£359m), eastern England (£265m) and Scotland (£248m).

Among the higher education organisations to have participated in the scheme, the University of Cambridge has been awarded the largest amount (£137m), followed by University College London (£122m) and the University of Oxford (£114m).

All the figures are correct as of September 30 2016, but as UK organisations can continue to bid for funding from the Horizon 2020 scheme, it is likely the total amount will rise further.

The Treasury has stated it intends to underwrite funding of all awards made under the scheme while the UK is still a member of the EU.

They have also said this will apply even when specific projects continue beyond the UK's departure from the EU.

Groups applying for Horizon 2020 funding must be part of a consortium that is typically made up of at least three organisations from different countries.

Grants are available for projects that cover a variety of areas, including new technologies, tackling the challenges of climate change or food security and space exploration.

The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee last month called for a clear statement from the Government exempting EU scientists already employed in the UK from wider immigration controls.

“Uncertainty over Brexit threatens to undermine some of the UK's ongoing international scientific collaborations,” said Committee chairman Stephen Metcalfe. “Telling EU scientists and researchers already working in the UK that they are allowed to stay is one way the Government could reduce that uncertainty right away.” 

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