Brexit is moving ever nearer – and despite Government’s stated desire to continue to associate to the European funding streams in which the UK has enjoyed much success, much is still to be resolved.

With the UK competing for and winning about £1.5bn of research funding from the EU against £900m contribution to the pot, higher education and industry aren’t the only players wanting to know what arrangements can be found with the EU to keep us in this game – or if an accommodation cannot be arrived at, they urgently want to know what alternative measures Government could supply to make up any shortfall.

In this context, at the end of March, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy announced the launch of a review by Sir Adrian Smith into the future of European and international collaboration. Sir Adrian has been tasked with reflecting on a future fund or mix of funds which could serve to replace Horizon Europe – supported by NCUB’s strategic advisor, Professor Graeme Reid. But replacement instruments are only part of the story. And even if the UK does associate to European framework programmes, there are opportunities to work creatively with domestic funding streams to catalyse new, impactful activity which complements the big agendas such as the 2.4% R&D target.

After Brexit, UK universities and businesses need to be supported to build and sustain new international partnerships, both with EU partners and beyond. Funding is part of this mix – but how it is deployed, and what architecture is built around it, is critical. The review’s open consultation closed on 24th May, and NCUB submitted a written response reproduced in full below with input from members.

Our key recommendations were that instruments and actions emerging from the review should:

  • Ensure continuity from present use of EU funds
  • Be a driver for greater European and global collaboration
  • Be an enabler to attract further R&D investment
  • Attract global talent
  • Maximise impact and encourage synergies between instruments

We will continue to offer insights to the review team. If you want to share views on opportunities the review could explore, please get in touch.