Brexit threatens £1 billion in research funding: study

18th May 2016, Comments 0 comments

A British vote to leave the European Union in next month's referendum would put almost £1 billion in EU research funds to Britain at risk, a new study warned Wednesday.

Competitive research funding from the EU and European Research Council to Britain amounted to £967 million (1.24 billion euros, $1.39 billion) in 2015, according to research company Digital Science.

Britain is the second largest recipient of EU research funds after Germany, receiving £8.04 billion in the past decade compared to £8.34 billion for Germany.

This represents 7.4 percent of Britain's net contribution to the EU budget over the same period.

The report authors said the extent of EU funds concealed the fact that, despite its world-class reputation, Britain does not invest as much in research as other competitors.

Germany spent 2.85 percent of GDP on research in 2013, according to the latest figures from the World Bank, while Britain spent just 1.63 percent.

"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," said Daniel Hook, managing director of Digital Science.

"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."

The study added that 41 percent of public funding over the past ten years for cancer research came from the EU, although this excludes contributions from major charitable sponsors the Wellcome Trust and Cancer Research UK.

Some 67 percent of funding for evolutionary biology over the past decade came from the EU, and 62 percent of nanotechnology funding.

British businesses have also benefited, including Rolls-Royce, which received £51 million from the EU between 2006 and 2015, or 12.9 percent of its total British and EU government funding.

Britons vote on June 23 on whether to stay in or leave the European Union. Opinion polls suggest the Remain camp, led by Prime Minister David Cameron, has a slight lead.

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© 2016 AFP

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